This past week was one of those whirlwind experiences. Totally unexpected, but very slow moving whirlwind. When I say slow moving, I’m talking 9 nights in the hospital slow. Yes, nine! Seven of those were in the PICU. I don’t know if you follow me on Facebook or not. If you don’t, you don’t know much of my story of this past week. If you do, you’ve probably heard bits and pieces.
Last Friday night, my husband and I came home from a quick evening shopping trip in a nearby town to find our 8 year old daughter, Savannah, in respiratory distress. Our teens were babysitting and have been trained what to do when she is having asthma issues. She was originally diagnosed with asthma almost 2 years ago, after a collapsed lung and a life flight and we have been using the inhaler or nebulizer as needed since that time. On this particular night, our teens had been keeping us abreast of the situation and we were told that she had needed a couple of breathing treatments while we were gone and had used her inhaler. Nobody realized she was still having trouble breathing as she was just laying on the recliner resting, looking tired and no longer complaining. When I got home (shortly after her treatment), I asked her to meet me in my bedroom so I could fully assess her without any noise. Just walking to my room had her so completely out of breath that I was worried. I called my husband into our room to help me evaluate her and we did a couple more breathing treatments to see if that would help. It didn’t help, so we decided we needed to head to the ER.
Her oxygen saturation levels were low, so they put her on oxygen and began more breathing treatments and steroids. Since she wasn’t improving fast enough, the doctors decided to admit her into the hospital. They had taken X-Rays and had seen a small spot of pneumonia on her lungs, too. After staying a night there, they decided to move her to a larger hospital that was better equipped to deal with children in respiratory distress. Specifically, they wanted her in a PICU unit. She had been working for too hard, for too long at breathing.
They transferred us by ambulance to a hospital about 2 hours away. We were met by a myriad of hospital staff getting her checked in and ready for the new treatment plan. My husband and I had felt apprehensive about going back to this hospital (the same place she had been life flighted to a couple years prior), but once we were there, we felt a sigh of relief, knowing that these people really knew what they were doing and would not take anything we said lightly. Just being in a place that specializes in children can make all the difference in the world!
The first part of the plan was to place her on albuterol breathing treatments continuously. This was equivalent to getting 20 breathing treatments an hour. Something that literally makes your hands tremble because you have so much in your system. Because her respirations were still so high, she was at risk of aspirating, so the first rules were to go in effect.
No Eating or Drinking
Now that sounds mean, doesn’t it? Apparently the need for food isn’t as great as the need for breathing. Go figure, right? :D If she were to aspirate any food, that could have made her recovery that much harder, if not impossible. It was already hard. We didn’t need it even harder! But, it was so hard to tell her, “I know you’re hungry honey, but you have to listen to the doctors”. All she could think of was food, food and more food! Her mouth was getting so dry, too!
We arrived at this hospital on Saturday evening, late. Her last meal had been at supper time. Apparently the other hospital didn’t have any trouble with her eating, as they fed her multiple times. It wasn’t until Tuesday when they decided to let her have clear liquids. None of her options tasted very good to her, so she held out as well as she could until the next day when they finally let her order yogurt. She gobbled up 2 containers of it, almost immediately.
As she progressed, they allowed to her to eat more and more.
She stayed on the continuous breathing treatment from Saturday night through Thursday afternoon. She then slowly moved from every 2 hours to every 4 hours and finally on Saturday (a week later), they moved us out of PICU to the regular Pediatric floor.
After a partial family sleepover (me and 4 of my girls) in our room that night, they sent us home on Sunday. We left with an upgraded asthma status (mild/persistent from intermittent/as needed). 9 days in the hospital was a long and boring way to spend that week of our life, but we’re so very thankful that modern medicine can help us so efficiently!
Savannah is now home and feeling pretty good. We are still giving her a breathing treatment every 4 hours and she is now on a maintenance steroid inhaler, until further notice. She had had a mild cold at the onset of this, and we believe that the cold, coupled with allergies and chlorine are what caused this to get bad so quickly. We are now taking beginning steps to make her bedroom as allergy free as possible. A total room clean out and vacuum session, mattress and pillow covers and even new paint on the walls. We will be doing everything in our power to keep this from happening again!
If you’d like to read more about how we entertained her during that time, please click here.