Tuesday, September 13, 2005

It's 8:30 PM on a Sunday night. You're in the Emergency Room with your toddler who was having severe breathing troubles earlier that day. They are trying to send you home with a prescription for antibiotics and a diagnosis for pneumonia. Your toddler tries to go to sleep right there on the exam table and you see his chest muscles working so hard for every breath and you realize it's time to start arguing with the nervous looking resident who is trying to to get you out of there. This is one of those moments in parenting that show you what you are made of. It will be the first of many in the next 24 hours.

This was my Sunday Night.

Eric woke up with a cough on Sunday morning. By around four or five he couldn't stop coughing. I called the doctor and she said to take him into the Emergency Room. I gave him some albuterol syrup and he wanted to lie down so I let him. Fifteen minutes later, I said "We're OUT of here." The area around his collar bones was pulling in and out and he was wheezing audibly.

By the time we got to the Emergency Room the albuterol had kicked in and he was breathing much more easily. But they did a chest X-Ray and based on that and the sounds his lungs made they said he had pneumonia. Then they tried to send us home.

Fortunately for us the whole thing took so long that the albuterol had worn off and they got to see what his breathing was like before we brought him in. The Nervous Resident listened to his lungs and he got the Chief Resident who opted for lots more drugs. So, I snuggled up to my baby on the narrow exam table and held a nebulizer in front of his face while he slept. They gave him a triple dose of various asthma medicines and after an hour or so, he was breathing almost normally.

They got busier and busier and I just lay there holding the oxygen next to his nose and listened to him breathe. Finally at around 10:30 they decided to admit us. They weren't happy with his oxygen levels and wanted to nebulize him every three hours throughout the night. It was a very fast turn around from "Go home with nothing for his breathing," to "We're keeping you overnight." But I was very happy to be getting out of the emergency room.

The pediatric nurses were wonderful. They let me and Eric curl up in a slightly less narrow bed together for the night. Rich had to drive to New Jersey for a work thing at 6:30 Monday AM, so he reluctantly had to leave us there by ourselves. We were discussing it and as he decided to go, Eric said "Bye Bye Daddy." He understands EVERYTHING these days. So we cuddled up on that bed, my baby in my arms and I held the vapor to his nose while he slept.

He woke up just shy of six the next day and we played for a while. Somewhere in there I managed to leave a message for my boss that I wouldn't be in for a couple days.

Monday, he was breathing better. My dad came by around 9:30 with coffee and croissants and I decided I wanted my dad to stay until they released us. This took a very long time. Finally just before noon one of the doctors from our doctor's office came by to release us. After that, we had to wait for somebody to bring us a portable nebulizer and we came back to "Mema's House." We were both so wrecked, he went to sleep at six thirty and I went at nine thirty.

We're doing better today. We went to the park and then we hung out here and Eric ate and entire sleeve of saltines for lunch. Very healthy, I know.. but there's SO few things that he actually eats. Then we went to the fancy produce store and bought a container of five dollar strawberries. They were very delicious.

He's finally asleep now. His new school has them napping at one instead of noon, so I shot for the 1:00 nap and ended up with a 2:00 nap. Oh well. At least he's sleeping. After all the adrenaline wore off last night, I felt drained and depressed. But today I'm feeling a lot more normal. A brief look at my work e-mails and I'm in for a rocky week.

But nothing could be worse than watching Eric struggle to breathe. He doesn't have an official diagnosis of asthma, but I think we're getting there. At least unlike me he'll HAVE a diagnosis. I would sit there gasping like a fish and my parents would say "Have some sudafed! have some peppermint tea!" Didn't occur to them once to tell the doctor that I couldn't breathe sometimes. Go figure.


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