asthma, part three

(For those of you just joining us, click here and here for the beginning of the story.)

Ok, so we got admitted to the medical wing for the night, and really, nothing super-dramatic happened after that. The nurses and everyone we dealt with was absolutely amazing. One of the nurse’s aides brought us several different cartoon videos for Cate to watch (the TV in our room had a DVD/VCR combo), they brought us snacks, and were just generally super-nice and fantastic. And Children’s Hospital even has free laundry facilities for families (with detergent!), so I didn’t have to bring our nasty, puke-soaked clothes home with us. I just washed them and we were good to go. If you have to be stuck in the hospital with a sick child, that’s the way to do it.

Also: while we were there, I discovered these in the cafeteria. Best. Cookies. Ever. I’m going to start ordering them for people as gifts, I kid you not. Y’all get ready to hate me.

As soon as we were in our own room, Cate was obviously starting to feel better. The second albuterol treatment and the steroid she got in the ER had finally kicked in, and she was breathing a lot easier. She even smiled at the nurses a little bit, and was starting to seem more like her normal self. She slept a lot, but still managed to put up quite a fight when it came time to give her a dose of albuterol with an inhaler. She isn’t old enough to use an inhaler on its own, so we have to use it with something called a “spacer,” which is basically a tube attached to a mask that covers her nose and mouth. And hoo boy, she did not like it. I had to pin her arms down while the nurse held her head still and gave her the medicine. It was probably a three-person job, but we managed with two people.

Incidentally, we’ve been using the spacer with the inhaler since we got home, and she’s totally fine with it now. Either she’s gotten used to it or else it’s less scary when it’s just me doing it. I turn on cartoons to get her all nice and distracted, then squirt away. She doesn’t even fuss about it anymore. It’s awesome.

By that evening, Cate was feeling much better, because we had to have the nurses unhook her from her monitors so she could cruise around the hospital room and play. She had a blast, even though the pants on her baby scrubs were too long and tripped up her feet a few times. Dave took off around 8:00, and I started trying to get Cate settled down to sleep.

The night was pretty rough, because Cate woke up every couple of hours, which meant that I did too. I’d have to buzz the nurse, ask him (our night nurse was a guy named Matt) to unhook her from all of her monitors so I could bring her over to the fold-out couch with me. Then we’d cuddle on the couch until I got her to fall asleep again, put her back in the crib, buzz Matt to ask him to re-hook her monitors, and lather-rinse-repeat all night long.

(For the record, as much as I wanted Dave around while all of this was going on, I am SO GLAD he went home for the night. That fold-out couch was teeny-tiny – only slightly bigger than a twin-size bed, and so short that my feet hung off the edge, and I’m only 5’5″ – and if both of us had tried to sleep on it, we would’ve bumped into each other all night and neither of us would’ve slept at all. It was much better to be somewhat comfortable for the couple of hours that I was able to sleep.)

The doctor came to see us in the morning, and after a few administrative details (we had to talk with a respiration therapist, watch a video on childhood asthma, etc.), we were discharged and allowed to go home. Cate’s official diagnosis is Reactive Airway Disease, which is essentially an asthma attack that’s triggered by a cold or a virus of some kind. So from now on, whenever she gets a cold, we’ll start using her albuterol inhaler as a preemptive strike to hopefully avoid any more attacks. It’s pretty likely that she will have full-blown asthma later on down the road, since Dave has had it all his life and Cate is already exhibiting the signs for it, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Since we got home, things have been pretty smooth. The steroid inhaler they gave her makes her super-hyper, which is fine because she’s happy and not grouchy, it’s just making naptime a challenge, and she’s wearing me out. But she hasn’t wheezed at all, so she’s off the albuterol entirely (until her next cold, fingers crossed that’s going to be a long time from now). She’s also back on antibiotics for the ear infection she inevitably developed during all of this (whee!), but that isn’t too bad, it’s just making for some, uh, interesting diaper pyrotechnics. Good times.

asthma, part two

Picking up where I left off: while I was on the phone with Dave, the paramedics arrived. I got off the phone and retrieved Cate from the nurse – between the doctor, several nurses, the paramedics and us, the exam room was quite crowded and the whole thing freaked Cate the hell out. The paramedics were so sweet, though, and one of them gave Cate a bunny to help calm her down.

bunny that the paramedics gave Cate

[How cute is that? It didn’t really work, but she seemed to like the bunny later when she was feeling better. And she said, “Unny!” Which, um, ok kiddo, we didn’t know that you knew that word. I guess all those episodes of Bunnytown weren’t totally useless after all.]

I gave one of the nurses my car keys and she went to get Cate’s car seat out of the car so the paramedics could put it in their rig. She also gave me a diet coke to take with me, god bless her. We had run out the door so fast, I hadn’t even had a sip of water or put any make-up on or anything (and those of y’all who know me know that I never leave the house without make-up), and suddenly it looked like we were going to be in for a long day. So I was grateful for the caffeine, and since diet coke is like my favorite beverage in the world, I’m seriously thinking that I need to write her a thank-you note for that.

We got in the ambulance, strapped Cate into her car seat (which was strapped to a gurney), and they set up another albuterol treatment for her (the vaporizer kind where it just kind of blows in her face for several minutes, rather than the inhaler). It must’ve helped, because she was finally comfortable enough to fall asleep, and she stayed conked out until we got to the ER at Children’s Hospital and I had to take her out of the car seat.

The staff there was really great too, and gave Cate this really cute ballerina doll to entertain her.

ballerina doll that the ER staff gave Cate

Again, she didn’t care anything about it. Dolls are so not her thing. I wish someone had just given her a broken cell phone or something with buttons that lit up, because that would’ve helped way more. Oh well, it was really sweet of them to try. They also turned “Teletubbies” on the TV, which at least gave Cate something to stare at, although I don’t know if she was really into it or not. We’ve never watched Teletubbies at home, so it wasn’t familiar and comforting, it was just something to watch. But it definitely helped to keep her from crying quite so much. And I’ve decided that they aren’t nearly as creepy as I once thought they were.

We had our own room in the ER, and I sat in the bed with Cate on my lap. Dave got there about 10 minutes after we did, which made me feel so much better. Dealing with these types of crises are so much easier when there are two of you. Cate was examined by about a dozen different doctors and nurses, and they set her up with more albuterol treatments. She alternated between squirming and crying (which she did a lot) and sleeping. Her oxygen level was up to the mid-90’s by that point, which was much better than it had been earlier, but it would start to drop into the 80’s if I moved the oxygen mask away from her face. But as long as I kept it hovering close to her nose, she seemed to be fine. Once things calmed down a bit, I sent Dave to the cafeteria to get me some food before I passed out.

The nurse took us to get an X-ray of Cate’s chest, to rule out pneumonia. That was pretty horrible, because they had to strap her to a chair and pin her arms over her head to keep her totally still, and she howled through the whole thing. It was awful, but thankfully it didn’t take very long and they got what they needed on the first try.

Since the X-ray showed it definitely wasn’t pneumonia, asthma was the most likely culprit. They told us we were going to have to be admitted overnight. I gave Dave a list of things we were going to need and sent him home to fetch it, since there was no way I could leave Cate.

Btw, our ER room didn’t have a bathroom (of course), so eventually I handed Cate over to Dave so I could go pee. When I left, I took Dave’s cell phone with me and I popped outside to call my parents and tell them what was going on. My mom wasn’t awake yet, so I had to unload all of this info onto my dad. And of course, the day that all of this happened was his birthday. Happy birthday, Dad! Your one & only grandbaby is in the hospital and can’t breathe, and we don’t know what’s wrong yet! My dad is a world-class worrywart, so as you can probably imagine, this was not a great day for him.

At some point I offered Cate some milk, since I at least had enough of a brain to stick a bottle in the insulated pocket of my diaper bag before we left the house. She sucked down about half of it really fast, and started to doze off again. The nurse came back and wanted to give her some decadron, a steroid to help reduce the swelling in her lungs. She said it was cherry flavored and most kids liked it. Hmph. Most kids aren’t my kid, lady. We squirted a tiny bit in her mouth, she gagged, and the medication plus all of the milk she drank came right back up. All over both of us.

Of course, this was before I had sent Dave home to get extra clothes for all of us, so we were just stuck, soaked, and stinky. The nurses found a pair of scrubs for me, and we let Cate hang out in just her diaper for a while. An hour or so later, we were admitted to the medical wing, and the nurses there found some baby scrubs for Cate (which were hilarious and I wish I had gotten a picture of her wearing them, but I brought them home with me, so I may have to get her to model them again at some point).

Up next: the longest night ever.

asthma, part one

We got home from the hospital this afternoon, and I have a feeling this story is going to take a while to tell. I’m breaking it into pieces, since Cate is finally asleep and I’m on my way to bed right behind her. And besides, I need to make sure to thoroughly document this story so that when she grows up, she can read about the time that she scared the bejeezus out of her poor mother.

Ok, first of all, I knew something was up on Thursday night when I could barely get Cate to drink any milk before I put her to bed. She drank about 2 ounces, and normally would have had about 7 or 8. Oh well, I put her to bed anyway, and put the remainder of her milk back in the fridge, figuring that she’d wake up in about an hour and want it.

Sure enough, she did wake up about an hour later, but she didn’t want any milk (in fact, got upset when I even tried to offer her the bottle). She just fussed and squirmed, and I noticed that her eyes weren’t even open, she was just whining while still half-asleep. So I put her back in her crib, turned her Baby Mozart CD on again, and she quieted down and went back to sleep. An hour later, we repeated this process. And again. And again. Finally, somewhere around 3 a.m., I decided that nothing was really wrong, she probably wasn’t wanting to drink anything because of a sore throat (since I already knew she had a cold, it didn’t seem like that big a leap), and that she was just fussing because she got herself into a position in her crib that she didn’t like, and she didn’t have the energy to readjust herself.

So – and this is the part that I haven’t forgiven myself for yet – I turned off the baby monitor. I figured that if she really needed me, I’d hear her yell. She’s just down the hall, and it’s not like our walls are anywhere near soundproof. I thought to myself that if I just got a decent chunk of sleep, I’d be a much better parent to her in the morning. I know it probably seems totally logical, but in hindsight it feels totally selfish and horrible.

Around 7 a.m. on Friday morning, I heard her down the hall. When I got her out of her crib, the first thing she did was vomit mucus all over both of us. Lovely. I took us both into the bathroom, stripped off our jammies, and got us into the shower. Around that time, I noticed that she was wheezing. She was taking really short, rapid breaths and there was a horrible rattling sound when she breathed. I woke Dave up and made him listen to her. He agreed that we should take her to the doctor. I called Patsy to let her know we wouldn’t be coming, and got Cate and I both dressed and out the door. We didn’t have an appointment, but I knew the office opened at 8:00, so I figured we’d just show up and surely they could squeeze us in.

Turns out, the office technically does open at 8, but none of the doctors show up until much later. The only people there are nurses and administrative staff. After talking with the receptionist (who told me to come back at 9:30 – um, no way, sorry lady), she sent one of the nurses out to talk to me. She listened to Cate’s chest, and said, “hmm, ok, let’s get her into a room so we can check her oxygen levels.” She told one of the other nurses to get an oxygen tank ready because she thought they were going to need it.

Cate’s oxygen saturation level was around 80%. (It’s supposed to be 100.) So they brought in some oxygen for her, and tried to get a doctor on the phone to give an order for albuterol. We couldn’t get the mask on her face because she freaked out and tried to pull it off, so we settled for just holding it near her face and letting the oxygen blow as close to her nose and mouth as possible.

I was bordering on freaking out during most of this, but I kept it together pretty well. Cate’s pediatrician finally got there (after Cate had already had one round of albuterol, per the instructions she gave the office staff via her cell phone), and after listening to her chest and giving a second round of albuterol, she told the nurse that we should go to Children’s Hospital. The nurse asked something, I forget what, I just remember hearing Dr. Wen say, “No, call 911. They’ll get here faster.” That was when I freaked out. I hate crying in front of people, but I just lost it. They were all so sweet, telling me that I did the right thing, everything was going to be fine, etc. One of the nurses called Dave for me, since this was (of course!) the one time in my entire life that I forgot to charge my cell phone before leaving the house. After she got him on the phone, I went into the hall to talk to him while one of the nurses held Cate. We agreed that he’d meet me at the hospital.

Next time: ambulance rides, baby x-rays, and how I ended up in a pair of scrubs.

live from the Pediatric ER

Ok, we’re not actually in the ER anymore, but we’re in the medical unit at Children’s Hospital.

So it looks like Cate has asthma. Not sure if it’s going to be chronic (like Dave’s), or if it’s just something that’s going to be triggered by colds and viruses (like this first episode was). Poor kiddo has been absolutely miserable, but she’s doing a little better tonight, and hopefully we’ll be discharged tomorrow. Worst case scenario is Sunday.

More details as soon as we’re home, I just wanted to go ahead and throw out a little prayer/happy thoughts request before Dave goes home for the night and takes his laptop with him. He was going to stay here with us, but the little couch in the room only sleeps one. The nurses here are awesome, I’m sure we’ll manage ok without him. Although I’ve warned him that he better get his little tush back here early tomorrow.

14 Months

Today, my baby girl is 14 months old. And to mark the occasion, the boogers are back with a vengeance. I had to check my old posts to see when the last time was that Cate got sick because I couldn’t remember. It was mid-February. That means we’ve gone over a month without being sick, which is a record this winter. (Yeah, I know, it’s technically spring, but it’s overcast and 40-something degrees, so it doesn’t feel very spring-y.) So I suppose I should be grateful that the colds are starting to become fewer and farther between. And yet… no, not so much grateful. Just hating the snot that makes my poor girl miserable.

I don’t know if it’s a real cold or just teething; I know that the last time one of her bottom teeth broke through, she got all snotty-nosed for a week, and then it dried up the day that the tooth broke through. I’m hoping that’s what it is – she has 3 teeth on the bottom, and the fourth one has been working its way to the surface for ages now. (Oddly, her top two teeth made an appearance with nary a sniffle.) So I’m crossing my fingers that it isn’t a real cold, because those seem to take ages to recover from. The last time she got a tooth, I knew that it wasn’t a real cold because in spite of the boogers, she was still in a good mood all the time. Now… well, it’s kind of hard to tell what’s going on with the frequent toddler meltdowns. It’s rough, I kind of want to give her a multiple choice quiz.

1. Hey kiddo, why so upset?
a.) I have a cold.
b.) My teeth hurt.
c.) I’m just being a toddler, you stupid bee-yotch.

Seriously, if she could just communicate what’s going on, it’d make it so much easier to handle. Well, that, plus being able to blow her nose. That would help tremendously.

Anyway, enough of the Sicky Talk, here are some baby milestones:

* Walking! She’s still only going a few steps at a time. Dave and I recently noticed that she can go a lot farther if we pretend like we aren’t watching her. When we’re watching, we freak out and applaud and get her all excited, so she starts to do her little bouncy dance, at which point she falls flat on her butt. But if we aren’t watching her, she concentrates on what she’s doing a little more, and she went a good 15-20 steps one time. (I was watching her in the reflection of the window, she didn’t see me.)

* More talking. She’s got at least a half-dozen names for the cats, and I only know a few of them (gitty, giggy, ba-ba, daggy & dabby – those last two are easy to confuse with daddy, but you can usually tell what she means by context). She also says “no,” complete with a head shake, dada/daddy, mama, “atsy” (for Patsy), Buddy (Patsy’s dog), and a couple of other things. My favorite is that when she’s eating, she makes the sign for “more” and says “muh.” That’s a pretty huge deal, since this is the first sign I’ve gotten from her. She doesn’t always use it correctly – a lot of times she’ll do it when she already has a mouthful of food. I usually answer her with, “yes, I just gave you more, that’s right.” Hopefully we’ll get the correct usage figured out soon.

* The tantrums are a pretty new thing, although really, the less said about them, the better. I’m sure that y’all don’t want to read about my baby screaming any more than I want to hear her scream myself.

* She’s starting to try a few new foods, which has been good. I have a feeling she’s going to go back and forth on this one a lot over the next few years, so I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it. Also, while we were in Raleigh, she learned how to drink out of a cup with a straw. I bought her some spill-proof straw cups when we got home (aside: the spill-proof claim? Lies. All lies.), and she really seems to like slurping her water out of them.

There’s some other stuff that I’m sure I’ve forgotten. Mostly, though, she’s just been awesome and fun, and I love getting to spend time with her every day.

less baby, more little girl

Two events in the past 24 hours that are proving that Cate is becoming more and more of a toddler:

1.) I recorded “Monsters Inc.” when it came on Disney the other day because I thought she might like the animation. The scene at the beginning where they show the little boy asleep in his room? Cate laughed at it, until the monster showed up, and the boy opened his eyes and gasped in fear. Then she freaked out. I thought she was too little to be scared by movies, but apparently not. She was absolutely terrified, and it took a while to calm her down. I quickly turned off the movie – and erased it from the DVR, since obviously we won’t be watching it anytime soon. I thought it was a really cute movie, but I guess we can try it again in a few years, when she’s (much) older.

2.) This morning, she had a full-throttle, red-faced, real-tears-and-all temper tantrum. I had to set her down so I could get dressed, and I was trying to put her down with some of her toys and books to distract her. She turned her body all rigid, so I couldn’t sit her on the floor, so I was like, “ok, you want to be flat as a board, here you go,” and I lay her on the floor on her back. Hoo boy, the wrath. She screamed, sat up (still screaming), then threw herself forward so that she was lying on her stomach (again, still screaming). I actually had to turn away from her because the drama of it all was making me giggle.

It took less than a minute for me to change out of my pajamas and into my jeans and sweatshirt, and when I was done, I sat down next to her to wait for her to calm down. She didn’t. I pulled her into my lap. She kept screaming. I picked her up and stood up. More screaming. We went downstairs and turned on cartoons, and after screaming for a couple more minutes (you know, just for good measure), she settled down and was fine. Oy.

This is actually something that I’m having a hard time figuring out. Cate seems to want to be held and cuddled an awful lot of the time. On the one hand, I think it would be beneficial if I set her down more often so she can gain some independence, learn how to entertain herself, and just generally be more self-reliant. At the same time, it seems like maybe she wants to be cuddled because she’s feeling insecure, and I certainly don’t want to withhold any reassurance or love that she might need.

I’m not sure if the clinginess is a normal toddler development phase, if the need to cuddle is just part of her nature (since it seems like she’s always been this way), or if she’s feeling particularly insecure because she’s noticing all of the boxes and other various changes that are going on in the house. She acts the same way at Patsy’s house, at least as far as wanting to be held all the time, so it isn’t something that she’s turning on just for me. I’m just not quite sure how to handle it: be her personal pack mule, or plop her on the floor with some toys and let her learn to get over it. It seems like I’m going back and forth between the two a lot, which I worry is doing more harm than good.

Did anyone else have super-clingy babies? How did you deal with it so that they became strong, independent little people?

walking girl

Since I mentioned getting a video of Cate walking in the last post, here it is. It’s only about 20 seconds, but this is about as good as she gets right now.

Note that “The Sound of Music” was on TV in the background, and you can hear the end of “My Favorite Things,” which I thought was appropriate, since her little smiling face is definitely number one on that list for me. (Although my mom pointed out that it would’ve been funnier if the song had been “Climb Every Mountain.” Heh.)

There are a few other videos of her walking with her toy car for support that I also uploaded, mostly for the grandparents, which you can see here if you want.