April 17 should always be known as Aunt Ruhama’s birthday. April 17, 2008 will not be solely remembered for Aunt Ruhama’s birthday but also as the day the Brin spent her first overnight at Children’s Hospital Minneapolis.
Warning: LONG, LONG post ahead. For short version, read the bold sections.
Brin got sick.
When I came home from work on Wednesday, Chris mentioned that he had been noticing Brin cough a lot! It was definitely a barky cough and it made me a little nervous. But I tried not to worry about it and just kepttabs on it. After the girls and I had spent the night hanging out with Elizabeth, our wonderful nanny, we got home just after bedtime. So I put the girls to bed and decided to page the doctor on-call from my work. Unfortunately, my page was too long and it cut off my number, so Dr. Shreve had to be pro-active and go online to figure out my number. Meanwhile, after it had been over 20 minutes, I was thinking, “Maybe he is annoyed by me. Maybe I shouldn’t have paged him. Maybe he isn’t going to call. Maybe I paged the wrong doctor!” So when he finally did call and explained what happened, I felt horrible, but relieved that I hadn’t annoyed him too badly.
I told Dr. Shreve that it kind of sounded like a croupy cough, but I didn’t want to say it was one because I wasn’t sure. So he told me what to listen for and how to help her through the night. I went to bed and listened to her labored breathing through the monitor. It didn’t sound like a wheeze, but it didn’t sound right, either. That night, she woke up a couple of times and I went to her and just held her. Her breathing was sounding worse and worse! The 2nd time she woke up, I decided to neb her. That was at 5:00 am. At 7:00, I nebbed her again because I hadn’t heard much change in her breathing. When I left for work that morning, she was definitely in good spirits, but doing what we could only call wheezing.
When I got to work, I spoke to Dr. Kurachek’s nurse, and my friend, Chris, about what in the world to do. So she wrote up a plan for me including using Albuterol nebs, Pulmicort nebs, and Orapred. I called Chris to explain to him what was going to happen to treat Brin and he sounded okay because Brin had been sleeping for about an hour and was still sleeping.
At 12:15, Chris called me and demanded that I come home (I can say demanded because he said that he demanded). So I waited my co-workers to come back from lunch and I was outta there.
We took Brin to the ER.
I got home, noticed that she had a fever (and Chris agreed), gave Brin a dose of orapred (which I knew takes a while to work), and nebbed her with pulmicort and albuterol. There was NO difference. So I called my clinic to see if I could get a same day appointment. When I didn’t have one, a nurse picked me up, and spoke to me. She could her Brin in the background and told me from what she could hear, we needed to go to the ER at Children’s. She continuously told me if Brin’s lips or fingers turned blue to call 9-1-1. I’m serious about being continuous. I finally repeated back to her, “If I notice her turning blue, I will call 9-1-1.” After I hung up with Fairview Plymouth, I called my work and asked to speak to Christy, our phone nurse for the day. I think I said something like, “Hi, Jamie. It’s Gianna. I think I might cry, but can I talk to Christy?” When I explained what my clinic said and how the pulmicort nebs hadn’t helped to relieve anything and that she had a fever, Christy concurred that I should bring her to the ER.
We called our friends, the Miltenbergers, to see if we could set up Maya going over there to hang out for a while during out time at the ER. They said that it shouldn’t be a problem, so I packed a small bag for her, threw pajamas into Brin’s diaper bag, and off we went. We dropped Maya off right before her nap with me promising, “Mommy and Daddy will pick you up even if it is after you go to bed.” We got to the ER around 2:20 pm, and were seen relatively quickly. We were told that she definitely had croup (the swelling of the vocal cords to prevent oxygen from getting into the lungs). Luckily, she had oxygen sats from 95% to 100%. So she was getting oxygen, but we still needed to get her croup under control… The nurse gave her a steroid called Decadron which they will not let you go home without being observed at the hospital for at least 2 hours. And we gave her an Epi Neb which is also something they do not let you do outside the hospital. Brin was tethered to the wall by the Pulse Oximeter that measured her oxygen levels. Try staying in a tiny little room with a 16 month old tethered to a wall. It’s worse than seeing a puppy chained up. AFter the first 2 hours past (which began at about 3:00), there hadn’t been enough improvement, so they gave us another Epi Neb and told us we would be staying the night. We weren’t going to be admitted, but we were going to the Short Stay Unit to be under observation for the night. I was relieved that we weren’t going to be doing this alone, but that was before we were shown our “room” for the night.
We had to stay overnight at Children’s.
We spent almost another 2 hours in our little room when they finally moved us (about 7:00 pm). They moved us to a non-private room which means we had an alcove with a curtain to pull to have a little bit of privacy. It is impossible to corral a toddler without the use of permanent walls. However, I’m glad that I had grabbed pj’s and Brin’s sippy cup, pig, and soothie. I was somewhat prepared for her night there. Completely unprepared for my night, unfortunately. Chris and I made arrangements with my mom that she would come down for the night so that Chris could bring Maya home and go to work the next morning. I was the lucky one who got to stay at the hospital (but I wanted to be). At about 7:45, Chris left to go pack a bag for me and get us some supper. At 8:30, I called Maya and told her that Daddy was coming after she went to sleep and then I asked her if she would pray for Brin. She said, “Okay. Dear Jesus, thank you for Brin. And thnak you that she is going to feel better. Amen.” So sweet and just what I needed from her. I got off the phone so she could go to bed. Then,I tried to get Brin to settle down and go to sleep, but she was so out of her element and scared and on a lot of medication that she couldn’t calm down. Chris came back at about 9:15, and I threw Brin at him saying that I couldn’t help her anymore. We had done so much walking back and forth and I was so tired and emotionally drained.
Anyway Chris gave me a reprieve for a while so I could call Elizabeth and have a moment or 2 of alone time. Then, just after he left, we got to do another Epi Neb (this was our 3rd one). About an hour later (11:45 pm), this konked her out for a bit, and I was able to get some rest (for about 45 minutes). Then, our long night began of Brin waking up every hour because she was scared and uncomfortable.
It was a very long night.
Imagine being in a cage with a big plastic thing over the top to keep you from falling out. I told the nurse that we probably wouldn’t need it, but she told me that for kids Brin’s age, they like to put it on because they have a tendency of trying to get out. Whatever! I should have just gone with my gut instinct!
Anyway, after Brin fell asleep at 11:45, she began waking up about every hour. And it wasn’t waking up and settling herself back down. At first she had the pulse oximeter attached to her, so she was very uncomfortable and whenever she moved (which she does a lot in her sleep), she was once again tethered to the wall. So I asked the nurse to take it off of her. She did and then we didn’t put it back on her for a long time. She also woke up because she was at a slight incline (we got that fixed after a bit), she was a little warm (couldn’t do much about that), the air was dry (we were ableto start pumping some humidity into the air). She also needed mommy to cuddle her which I gladly did. But everytime I crawled into bed, I would pray, “please Lord, give us just one more hour.” Around 3:30, we put the pulse oximeter back on her toe and slept with it the rest of the night. Oh, she still woke up every hour, but she was able to have the monitor on.
At 5:00 am, she woke up and I held her until about 7:30. The overnight Respiratory Therapist, the giant of a man, Dan, was called back in to give her one more Epi Neb around 5:45. He told me that he was surprised that we hadn’t been admitted. I guess they had admitted everyone else and he was surprised we hadn’t been. We gave her another neb and she slept hard in my arms, but she wouldn’t let me put her down. At 7:30, she finally let me put her down. I put her down, noticed they had turned the lights on in the main part of the room, ran to the bathroom to get dressed and brush my teeth, and called my mom. I told her we were waiting for the doctor, and then we would see if we got admitted or not. As of right now, we didn’t know.
Brin woke up still sounding pretty croupy, but MUCH better than before.
I knew Brin was feeling better because when she woke up for the morning, she sat up and started reading a book I had put in her crib. I got her out of bed, dressed her, gave her a snack to hold her off until her breakfast came, and followed her out to the play area. She had a blast.
After she ate her breakfast, we went back to the play “room” and read books and mixed things in the pots in the kitchen. Dr. Sanford Anderson came in to see “the Brinmeister,” as he so lovingly called her. He told me that he was letting us go but was going to put her on steroids (prednisone) and nebs. After he went away to go dictate this, I realized that I hadn’t told him that I had everything he had been suggesting since the day before Dr. Kurachek’s nurse had called that into our pharmacy. So I stopped Dr. Anderson and told him that we had those prescriptions. He asked who put her on them. When I said, “Dr. Kurachek,” he said, “Oh, so the pulmonologists are following this patient.” I felt horrible and said, “no, not for this! We just thought she was in her red zone for asthma like stuff.” Although I don’t think he heard my explanation, I’m glad I said something. I said something like, “I know me working for them is causing some difficulty.” And Dr. Anderson assured me, “Not at all. As long as you are telling me what I need to know.” Something like that anyway.
We got to go!
So I packed our bags, called my mom, signed my paper, and away we went! We walked all the way across the parking area to my building that I work in and waited for my mom there! Maya and my mom picked us up after we hung out at my work, and we went home. After we got home, I had to pick up Brin’s prescriptions and give her her meds and nebs.
Wow! I don’t wish that experience on anyone. There were a couple of things going for us. I am very familiar with Children’s since I go over there at LEAST once a week for work. And even if Dr. Anderson didn’t know me, I knew him and had already liked him from the brief interaction I had with him in the clinic. But no matter how much you are familiar with a hospital on a professional level, you still don’t know it on a personal level. I will have to say that even on a personal level I am impressed except for our non-private room (which is no one’s fault, just dumb luck!) and my bed that wasn’t a bed at all but a ambulance transporter. It was the smallest bed I had ever seen. I thought for sure I was going to fall off of it being as pregnant as I am. The next morning, after I had gotten dressed and was trying to relax as I waited for Brin to wake up, I was looking at my bed and realized what it truly was.
To God be the Glory!
Brin is doing much better and has cold like symptoms: a runny nose and a productive cough. I never thought I would be so happy to listen to her cough, but I can listen to this cough any day. The croup: not so much! Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the strength, courage, and endurance to be there for Brin. I’m so glad it wasn’t anything worse and that overall Brin is fairly healthy and doesn’t have a chronic condition!
The whole time, Maya has been patient and caring. She has such a tenderheart and God has blessed us with 2 great girls, but Maya’s thoughtfulness in particular. She was a trooper, too, playing with her friend Zeke and playing with Grandma and praying for her sister and being strong for her mommy and daddy. I am constantly amazed at how much God is maturing her into a sensitive empathetic young lady (I know she’s only 3, but really, I can see how God is shaping her already!).
I have a wonderful husband, too, who was very supportive of this whole experience (who gets you McDonalds AND a Toblerone at 9:30 at night?) and a great mom who is available many times when we need her!
But most importantly, we have a great God who never gives you more than you can handle!