Sunday, April 07, 2013

NICU, PICU: F*ck You (Part 1)

While I can have quite salty language in real life, I tend not to use it as much in this blog.  And, indeed, I planned on titling this entry “Well, Crap” when we checked Bridget into the hospital on Friday.  However, we she ended up in PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care) after a few hours, this title phrase stuck in my mind.  It actually became so much of a chant in my head that for the 1 or 2 hours I actually slept Friday night, I dreamed that it was a common, humorous phrase among the intensive care staff and they were delighted that I had figured it out.

I’m pretty sure it is not a phrase among the staff in NICU or PICU. And I want to be clear that any negative sentiments I have about NICU or PICU are about being there and have nothing in this universe to do with the staff.  The strongest positive feelings I have about nurses come from the relationships we’ve developed in our times being there.  These are talented, kind, and often very funny people (they are treating children AND helping parents not freak the freak out, you know).

Finally, if you notice that your child over two years old is breathing more than 40 breaths per minute (Count ‘em!), you need to get your sorry ass to the hospital because your child is VERY, VERY SICK.  It doesn’t matter if her lips aren’t blue or she’s a happy child or she is even playing or you’ve got her fever under control.  Bridget is a very happy, funny, positive, upbeat charming girl with deep pink cheeks and lips and she can charm the socks of everyone—even when she is sick enough to be intensive care.  So this is one time you can count the breaths and ignore the child.

So, now we can start the story.

Thursday, I came home and noticed the big scratch across Bridget’s forehead.  We need to discuss that scratch, because Every. Single. Person we met on Friday asked about the scratch. We don’t know how she got the scratch.  I left for work on Thursday morning, came back Thursday night, and there was a prominent scratch on her noggin that someone who shall remain anonymous BUT IS MY HUSBAND has no idea what happened.  PICU doctor called it a tattoo from Daddy daycare.  Ahem. 

So after determining that the previously unnoticed PROMINENT scratch was of undetermined origins, I noticed Bridget was not doing well.  Her fever was up to 102, she was puny and she seemed to have shallow breathing.  I counted her breaths, and they were hovering a bit above 40.  That is the cut off.  We decided to eat a quick meal and then go to the hospital. She actually ate dinner and afterwards was literally running around the house and played 3 or 4 rounds of hullabalo with Christopher.  Huh, I thought, I must have over-reacted.  

We went to bed and she slept with us as is the norm when someone is sick. (And is usually the norm when they are not, but I won’t mention that)  I heard her shallow breathing and her cracking breaths and thought, should I go to ER right now??  No, she’s sleeping, ER sucks and she seems fine.  We’ll see our pediatrician first thing in the morning.  So I went back to sleep.

There is only one other time I feel more guilty about a decision I made as a mother and that was my miscarriage with Colleen. I do not feel guilty about 7 of my 8 miscarriages.  But the 8th one is when I went running when I was pregnant with Colleen and her heartbeat was too high and we (I) lost her.  So yeah, not going to the doctor on Thursday night is currently reigning as the second shittiest decision I’ve made as a mother thus far.

Skip to Friday at our pediatrician whom I love.  Bridget’s lungs were “wet and clamped down,” which is apparently very bad.  They gave her two nebulizer treatments at the office, but her oxygen went from 93 to 92 to 89.  Less than 90 is bad.  The doctor suggested a trip to ER for more nebulizers. She suggested that because Bridget looked so good, she probably wasn’t that sick and wouldn’t need to be hospitialized.  But I was concerned we’d end up in the hospital anyway so she checked us in.  (I DID SOMETHING RIGHT! WOOHOO!)

At this point, I still felt like I was over-reacting.  The nurse checked her in and began her intake.  Bridget was still being “Bridget”—lots of energy, laughing, smiling, talking to everyone one, and charming the socks off everyone.

Then the nurse listened to her lungs and said, “Wow. Her lungs are really wet and clamped down.”  Apparently, “wet and clamped down” is not some quirky phrase my pediatrician uses to explain to me what she hears.  It’s apparently a thing, and it is Not Good.  Then they hooked Bridget up to the oxygen saturation monitor, which read 85. 

“WOW,” the nurse said.  “She is a lot sicker than she looks.  Kids don’t look as good as she does as sick as she is.”

It was the first clue that I didn’t over-react by suggesting we skip the ER, and that things were actually pretty bad. 

Part 2 tomorrow.  Sorry to serialize the story , but I am processing a lot emotional poop right now. 


Carroll said...

So glad to already know that this one has a happy ending for you, Anita!

jburciaga said...

I'm sorry you had to deal with this. Definitely trust your gut, it's always better to overreact and be wrong.

Rebecca said...

Oh my goodness. That reminds me of when Joey was in the hospital and his heart rate kept jumping way high (don't remember the numbers 200+??) and his oxygen levels would plummet to something like 80.......and alarms were going crazy. And the only thing my brain would say to me at this time....2am after surgery the day before and no sleep the night before.........'gee I hope there isn't an earthquake right now. God please don't make an earthquake happen right now'.

James Hathaway said...

You are WAY too hard on yourself. Sick kids are a mystery, and sometimes when they actually seem pretty sick they are perfectly fine a few hours later -- or they get even sicker really quickly. I had a baby who had (what turned out to be) pneumonia and we couldn't even get the pediatrician to give us a same day appointment. "It's just a virus," they told us over the phone. Clearly your daughter did not feel sick, which is what all of us go by. Hope things are on the mend!