Getting back to normal

Posted on | Tuesday, December 14, 2010 | No Comments

The past four days have been terrifying here at Team Herbitter.

Saturday morning the cough that Kael has been fighting off took a turn for the bad. He was having a difficult time breathing and his overall complexion was looking bad. By that afternoon I knew something was very, very wrong. His breathing was shallow and labored and he was becoming hypoxic. In laymen's terms; he couldn't breathe and was increasingly getting worse.

I took him to urgent care and discovered his oxygen saturation level was 87% and dropping with a heart rate of 165. They sent us to the nearest ER and within an hour he had received his first steroid treatment, a breathing treatment and was being prepped for a chest x-ray. The good news was Kael's test results came back negative for RSV, H1N1, and the other common culprits -- but that still didn't explain why he couldn't breathe. The decision was made to keep him overnight for observation. They put an IV in his arm (which he took far better than Mommy did) and prepared him for transport.

Once Kael was better stabilized they transferred him via ambulance to the pediatric unit in a hospital about 10 miles away. I can honestly say I didn't expect his first ambulance ride (or mine) to be before his fifth birthday.

He took things easier once he was in his own room at the pediatric unit. I made a quick trip back home to grab some of his smaller toys and other basic necessities, which helped. The nurses paid him extra attention and made sure he was comfortable, although he didn't fall asleep until past midnight. Thankfully by that point Kael had grown accustomed to receiving his breathing treatments and after having his IV put in place receiving his medication was much easier.

He started to call his nebulizer mask a 'fishie' and was getting treatments every four hours to help keep his bronchial passages open. His oxygen level would bounce back up for about an hour after each treatment before dropping back to the low 90s again. The nurses said that while he's awake, even if he's in a resting state his saturation levels shouldn't be dropping below 95%.

After he fell asleep things were a bit more difficult. Luckily Kael is a deep sleeper but that didn't prevent the adults in the room -- who were on edge as it was -- from waking every time a beep or buzzer sounded saying that his oxygen was too low or his heart rate too high. Around three in the morning they started him on oxygen because he was dropping to 88% with labored breathing.

He stayed on oxygen throughout Sunday alongside his O2/pulse sensor and his routine breathing treatments and checks for steady blood pressure. I was able to speak with his hospital physician that afternoon and we discussed two possible diagnoses, either chronic asthma or a lower respiratory infection. The chest X-ray from Saturday showed in his lungs had some trapped oxygen -- which is a sign for both medical issues.

As a test they temporarily took him off oxygen to see how Kael did on his own. The assumption was that if his O2 levels maintained a stable rate it was asthma, and if they dropped we would assume it was an infection instead. The doctor also began an antibiotic treatment as a precaution and also to combat a potential sinus infection to see that would help to raise Kael's oxygen levels. The logic being if his sinuses were infection he would be breathing only through his mouth and therefore the oxygen wasn't working as well as it should.

By mid-afternoon he was put back on oxygen since he couldn't maintain a high enough saturation on his own, but he was slowly starting to act like himself again. His appetite was increasing and he had more energy. He was even allowed off his O2 sensor for short periods to play in the pediatric play room. After being trapped in a hospital bed for over 24 hours getting to walk and play was the best thing ever.

On Monday showed good news at last! They took out Kael's IV and they took him off of oxygen again. The O2 sensor didn't drop below 94% for the entire day, a dramatic change from Saturday when he needed a nebulizer and oxygen to keep that level of saturation. The pediatrician came by again in the morning and told us that if Kael kept his saturation up through to the evening we would be discharged.

A saving grace for me sanity was my netbook. I was able to access the hospital's wifi and let Kael watch Disney shorts on YouTube. Even when nothing else got him to sit still a seven minute clip of Donald Duck chasing around those devious chipmunks got him to be calm. As his health improved it became steadily harder to keep him in his bed (or even in our hospital suite), I would have been in some serious jelly without YouTube.

The pediatrician came to see us again that evening and after a quick check gave us the all clear to go home. The final diagnosis was acute seasonal asthma compounded by a respiratory infection. We will need to see Kael's primary physician this week to double check the diagnosis and run further tests for asthma. I'm honestly suspicious since Kael began improving after the antibiotics and steroids kicked in. However the doctor made a valid point; Kael gets lung issues every winter and that is stereotypical of seasonal asthma.

It took the pediatric unit another two hours to fully discharge us from the hospital. During that time I ordered Kael dinner -- celebratory pancakes with syrup and butter. And chocolate milk. He at happily in his bed as I signed the various waivers and collected his five prescriptions (that took another hour to fill, yeesh!) and finally we went home.

I don't know about you, but I don't want another weekend like this for a long, long while.



Photobucket I was born and raised in California. I have also lived in Hungary, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and I will be moving again this summer. Kael is my incredibly awesome kiddo who is growing up far too quickly, and Alex is my fiance who makes me happier than should be legally allowed. I write about them a lot. I'm mildly obsessed with cooking and photography. I write about those things, too.