This seems like a good place to post a significant experience. I need to write about it, so here I go...
My son (almost 22 mos old) was sent home from school on Monday with a fever and runny nose. Other kids in his class had had a cold the week before. He was acting sick for a few days, but had moments of normal behavior too. My husband and I took turns taking care of him and we had some help from grandparents too. This was one of the first times since toddlerdom that I've felt like we were a strong parenting team. We did good! :)
Early Friday morning his cough sounded worse. Daddy noticed it and called the advice nurse. It didn't sound all that bad to me - so I'm very grateful for Daddy who had the sick kid radar this time around. The nurse told us to go to the ER, just in case. 2 hours later they decided to admit him to pediatrics - blood oxygen levels were too low (89-91). 8 hours after that they finally had a bed for him and we went upstairs. I had no idea (thankfully) how challenging it would be to take care of a toddler for 10+ hours in an ER, much less 2.5 days in the hospital. He was hooked up to a monitor, so he couldn't run around. He hated the breathing treatments (we had to swaddle him and then still hold him down) and any attempts to give him oxygen. He was bored and tired and at times hysterical. Have you ever tried to hold an almost 2 year old on your lap for ANY length of time? We just about exhausted our toddler distraction techniques in the first 12 hours. Thank god there were two of us and we were communicating well. Thank god for that paramedic who gave us "Doctor Bear" when we first came in. Thank god for funny and understanding health care professionals - all of them!
The next two days were rough. And full of love. And enlightening. And exhausting.
I haven't held my son for so many hours in a day, since he was 6 months old. Although there were certainly periods when he wanted to be held and NOT held at the same time. I really didn't know what to do then. He was crying, I was crying. And no one was there to help. Fortunately, this didn't last too long. Daddy took pretty short breaks and is an excellent distractor.
My body is sore. From sleeping in strange positions with 27 pounds of wriggling needy boy. From wrapping my entire body around his while they tried to clean his nose or adjust the wires/tubes/etc. or just changing his jammies. From holding my muscles tightly in anticipation of... something.
I am very grateful for the staff at Kaiser. With a few exceptions (charge nurse who told me I couldn't be in his crib; lack of attention those few times I was by myself with a screaming kid) they did an excellent job of taking care of us. Advice nurses, interns, construction workers, admitting staff, security guards, ER nurses, on call docs, cleaning staff, dietary staff, primary nurses, night nurses, nursing students, PICU staff, residents, attending docs, pharmacy staff, etc. - THANK YOU!
Did I mention I have a needle phobia? My husband and I both do. His is more advanced right now, so I get to be the on call parent for such procedures. Sometimes we rise to the occasion. The little guy had two IVs - the first one failed after 18 hours. Each one took 3 tries. Poor little guy. When they started the procedure(s), he sat in my lap and watched them look for veins. They were very nice about it - talking to him and trying to help him not be afraid. The crying didn't start until the pokes did. Then I held him tight and pulled out my mental song book. I would start singing something (The Ants go marching; ABCs; Wheels on the Bus; etc) and he would say "no" in a sad little voice until my playlist came to something he wanted. The second time it was A-Ram-Sam-Sam. Over and over and over again. Then The Wheels on the Bus came up again. I didn't think he was paying attention until I heard him squeak out "town" at the end of every verse. Then just before the seasoned PICU nurse (40 years on the job!) got the IV in, he fell asleep. They continued working and then wrapped him all up, splint and all, and he snored his way back to his room.
About 4 hours later, on Saturday night, things turned around. It was probably a culmination of antibiotics, rest, fluids, the body's natural ability to heal, oxygen, etc., but we are calling it The Mythical Properties of Mac 'n Cheese. Dinner time came around and so did the mac and cheese. We sat in his crib (him in my lap) with the choo-choo train video running and a nurses glove sitting just out of reach. We told him that he could have the desired blue glove, if he had 3 bites of dinner. It took awhile, but soon we got to three and then four and then 13! After that he was quickly on the mend. No more oxygen. He made it all night breathing on his own. His numbers kept getting better and they sent us home the next morning.
The next day (today) he's back at school. I'm back at work. So is Daddy. We saw his pediatrician this morning for a follow up. After examining him, the doc said, if he hadn't known had the notes in his chart, he wouldn't be able to tell he'd been sick. I am amazed at the body's ability to recover. But I also know that it needs a little help. Early bedtimes for all of us tonight.
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