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.