We were in our room for only about 4 hours when they started broaching the intensive care option. Bridget, at this point, was on 5 liters of oxygen and couldn’t keep her saturation above 92. As I learned, at that much oxygen she should have easily been at 100% saturation. They had also tried albuterol every 1 to 2 hours and nothing was working.
The mention of intensive care scared me. First, I was under the impression I couldn't spend the night with her, and that was terrifying (for me and Bridget). Second, intensive care is for sick kids. Was Bridget really that sick?
Fortunately, they told me NO ONE was in PICU and hadn't been all week so we could get the one private room in PICU. And second, they said Bridget would be fine, she just needed focused help to get over this hump. In fact, by being the only child in PICU, there would be two nurses and one doctor dedicated solely to her.
Like with the ER decision, I felt the PICU decision was more on the border than it was. Even as they processed her into her new “room”, they said as much: Maybe she needs to be here and maybe she doesn't, but let’s be safe. The PICU doc even refused to believe Bridget’s oxygen sats were what they said because Bridget looked so good—pink cheeks and red lips. She even replaced every piece of equipment they were using to monitor her until she believed Bridget’s lungs sucked in as little oxygen as they did.
This is where our story takes a negative turn. Until this point, Bridget’s version of a hospital visit was similar to Christopher’s: some medicine, some inconveniences and a lot of attention. PICU, on the other hand, was no fun at all.
She had to have continuous albuterol for 14 hours. This was delivered to her along with her oxygen via a face mask that had to stay on while she slept. We did not sleep. It fell off when she rolled over and when she dozed, she pulled it off. I tried, while I was awake, to put it back on. The overnight PICU nurse told me that at one point when I slept for 2 hours, he spent 10 minutes hovering over her putting it back on while she whacked at him and the mask in her sleep.
During this night, both Bridget and I also processed our negative emotions. This is fancy psychology speak for saying we broke down and cried. I cried quietly. She did not. In all honesty, it’s the most upset she’s ever been since she was an infant and was convinced that all adults were idiots. (That has not really changed) She was distraught and scared and angry and uncomfortable and very, very tired. She was nearly hysterical and it was an awful.
The morning was a bit better. They put her on nasal oxygen, which improved everyone’s mood. This is her when they put her back on nasal oxygen. She is a bit puny here. And one may notice a scratch. I did not get any pictures of her on her full time face mask, because that’s a memory I can let go (to haunt me in my vulnerable times).
They also started a chest therapy called The Vest which literally shakes the crap out of her. Fortunately, this video is only time she hasn’t screamed through it, so I’m glad it caught it.
Note: This is video of a very sick Bridget in PICU only a few hours after the first picture, yet she looks like a boatload of charm and fun. She is an amazing girl, isn’t she?
The good news is that she was able to graduate from 4 liters to 2 liters nasal oxygen over the course of Saturday and that scored her a room on the regular floor. WOO-YAY-HOO! Things haven't been all rosy since then (except, of course, her cheeks). She's still sleeping at 3 liters of oxygen. That is not "bad" in that it's dangerous. But it is not "good" in that they are not going to let her escape from here any time soon.