Friday, April 13, 2018

Asthma happens

I could just copy the same post from January and post it here and it would be accurate. Last week, Freya was in the hospital again for asthma. It surprised me that it happened so soon after the first hospitalization. But asthma is unpredictable so we have to carefully watch our children closely especially at an age when they can't advocate for themselves. I hope my stories will help other moms (dads, or guardians) to advocate for their children. Sometimes things are dismissed when the doctor doesn't know your child. As parents, we must insist things be at least looked into.
Lets start at the very beginning. It was again a Monday, (ironic, I know). My husband was out of state for five days so I was spending most afternoons at my parents house. Freya was playing with my youngest niece in the living room. Though Freya had a few moments where I had to wipe her nose but it wasn't that bad. But my brother noticed her nose was running a lot more. I didn't think much of it. Kids get runny noses.
That night Freya was restless. It was obvious that the mucus was going down the back of her throat. Post nasal drip usually takes more than one night to cause a problem, even for an asthmatic. By the morning and Morrigan was off to school I noticed Freya not breathing well. I gave her a breathing treatment and she seemed in good spirits. I had to wait an hour until the doctors office was open. Freya had strep throat at the time so I wanted to make sure her tonsillitis weren't causing problems for her. Then I noticed her stomach and a pulling behind the ribs. Its hard to describe but you know it when you see it. It looks like her breathing is causing her chest to almost ripple. That's when I knew it was better to bring her to the ER at this point. I gave her another breathing treatment and I called my mom to ask her to come with me. I figured if she needed a chest x-ray then I needed an extra pair of hands. In the meantime I got ready to go. I check on Freya and find that she had crawled up on my bed and laid down. This behavior was unlike her, she had just woken up a little over two hours prior and her skin was pale. I knew she was getting worse by the minute and breathing treatments are not working. I called my mom and told her she was either coming now or I was going without her.
Luckily, she is three minutes down the road. She must have just put the petal to the metal to get there because I took Freya outside (cold air helped me when I had my near death asthma attack five years ago.) I walked down maybe ten feet from my front door and Freya threw up. It was just mucus that came up but it showed the cold air was opening her up enough to cough it up. Right after she threw up, my mom pulled up. We threw her in the car seat and went straight to the hospital. We live less than ten minutes from the hospital if we hit all the lights. I looked at Freya and her skin has no color at all and her lips are turning blue. At this point, we would make it to the hospital faster than if we pulled over and waited for an ambulance. So we drove on, cutting through parking lots to avoid lights. We made it there in five minutes.
I walk in to the ER and explained how serious the situation was. I have had great experiences with this hospital before, but this day, the ER had angered me with the lack of response. I know they have to teach students and new staff members their job but not as my toddler is struggling to get oxygen. It took them forever to check her in. My mom had parked and joined me inside and as we stood there waiting we both agreed, pulling over and waiting for an ambulance would have gotten her in fast because these guys couldn't seem to print a ID bracelet. I was loosing my mind. Then they asked us to wait in the waiting room. I was looking at my completely lethargic daughter hoping she can wait before passing out from lack of oxygen.
Once the nurse calls us in for vitals I already could tell it wasn't going to go well for us. Just like before, the nurse said she couldn't get a ready on her. She changed the devices and still they couldn't get a read. So I asked what the problem and her numbers were too low to be real. I assure her it was, it happened last time. She didn't seem to believe me but she put her on oxygen and asked me to sit a wheel chair and hold her on my lap. An elderly man was in the waiting room asking for oxygen. One nurse asked our nurse what the guy wanted (the whole ER heard him begging for oxygen) and our nurse said "He wants oxygen but he's fine. He just wants attention." My mother and I just looked at each other in shock. Obviously there is a problem with the ER staff here but Freya needed medical attention now and couldn't wait the 40 minute car ride to the other hospital.We sat in the waiting room in panic.
They brought us in, luckily Freya was responding to the oxygen as her color came back to her lips. We met the ER doctor right away. He called the hospital pediatrician and ordered a breathing treatment and steroids. Even on oxygen her levels were dancing around the high 80s for O2. Her heart rate was really high as well. She was struggling and her O2 again was so low the nurse thought there was something wrong with the devices instead of her being that low. She just doesn't show most of the physical signs of distress. I don't know how her blue lips didn't concern the first nurse. We were next door to the older gentleman from the ER. When he came in I heard the nurse (who had to talk loud as he seemed hard of hearing) say "So, you're on oxygen at home?" This was the guy would was begging for oxygen that the nurse dismissed was him just seeking attention. I was so angered by that original nurse.The other nurses and medical staff was beyond helpful and kind. They joked with Freya as she refused to talk. It might of been too difficult for her. But her nurse joked that the medicine took her voice away and with a shake of her head Freya agreed.
Maybe 15 minutes after the steroids were given Freya vomited pure clear, thick, mucus. I had never seen anything like it. It was just like she had swallowed a whole container of that rubber glue I remember from school and it was now spitting it out. The poor thing gagged so much trying to get it all out. She was so concerned about expelling it onto her blanket she cried but once the nurse gave her a new one she relaxed. Apparently, that cleared up her lungs pretty good. There was still a wheeze but it wasn't nearly as bad as it was when she first arrived.
The pediatrician was quick to arrive and recognized us by our time in November for Freya's first asthma attack. She was very knowledgeable and helpful. She set up a plan and came back just when she said she would to check on Freya's progress. It didn't take long for her to decide Freya needed to stay. She admitted us and had a bed in the children's ward rather quickly. The vomiting had relaxed and tired Freya so much she fell asleep. She slept through the transport upstairs until we had to switch beds.
Once she was upstairs in the room she started talking and boy did she talk. The nurse had two student nurses with her. Freya showed them her cat scratch and told them how she pulled Pumpkin's tail and she scratched her. She introduced me and my mom and told them my real name. My actual name is something I had recently taught her so she is proud to show that off. Also she told them how to spell her name and she has an older sister and her daddy is a work (she didn't really get him being out of state to visit family). My mom left and picked up Morrigan bringing her home to get stuff for an overnight at her house and putting together a bag for me for my stay with Freya in the hospital.
Even with oxygen, her numbers dipped low while she slept setting off the alarms all night. After breathing treatments her heart rate also caused the alarms to go off. Never mind all the times she started pulling off the stat monitor. She also go breathing treatments every two hours all night long. She was wide awake well after midnight to the surprise of the nurses. There was no sleeping for either of us. It put Freya in a bad mood and me too tired to handle her. It was hard not having my husband home.
That morning I got a call from my mom concerned about Morrigan's breathing. Her mild cough became severe overnight. Nothing was calming it and she was struggling. I called the doctors as soon as it was open and set up an appointment for her. My parents took Morrigan to her appointment while I counted the minutes for an update. The doctor was reluctant to give Morrigan steroids. She had only seen Morrigan once so far and hadn't seen her for her asthma so she didn't feel comfortable giving her steroids right away. She said if Morrigan wasn't better by Friday (It was Wednesday) then bring her back in.
My parents came up in the late afternoon with Morrigan. Her sister was thrilled to see her sister and the whole nurses station was like "So this is Morrigan, we heard so much about you!" The shift change came another familiar face. The girl from respiratory from our first visit (the woman with patience of a saint) came in and recognized Freya right away (not always a good thing. lol) She was surprised by how big she got and how much hair she has now. That woman was amazing and so sweet to Freya. We were happy to have her again. We were down to a breathing treatment every 3 hours and the pediatrician said once she handled being off oxygen and staying in the high 90s in O2 she could go 4 hours between treatments. After two treatments four hours apart she would be able to go home. That would put us leaving between 5 and 6.
Hubby was on his flight home and would be arriving home around 10 that night. Things were finally going to be normal again. Or so I thought. Freya was discharged and we were picked up by my parents with Morrigan in tow. We all returned home and I sighed with relief. That feeling of relief didn't last long. After dinner Morrigan's cough was so constant I could see she wasn't able to suck in air after. Her lungs were in spasm though that is not asthma related, her asthma prevented her lungs from relaxing fully. This was causing small short lived asthma attacks. It was only going to lead to a large attack and that can leave scaring in the lungs. I knew she needed steroids and we weren't waiting for the doctor's the next morning. She would be in the ER with a major attack in some ridiculous hour of the night, I know her and her asthma. I know I keep saying how I know better than medical professionals and that sure makes me sound like I'm over reacting. But if you take in to account how many times I listened to my better judgement and ended up right I will continue to listen to those gut feelings over the medical professionals that don't know my children. Asthma is so unpredictable and nothing goes 100% text book. Everything depends on knowing the child and how their asthma affects them.
My poor husband walks in the door at 10 p.m. to me asking him which he would rather do, stay at home with Freya and I take Morrigan to the ER or he can go with Morrigan? He was kind to me and took Morrigan knowing I just came from for 2 days in the hospital. I really didn't want to go back. He has handled her ER trips before so I had confident he could handle it. He texted me updates the whole time and remembered a doctor's note for school. The difference the steroids made for Morrigan was huge. She came home in the early morning barely coughing. I was so relieved!
It was a tough week but we made it, somehow. It's important to advocate for your children and follow your gut. Know your children's asthma as much as you know them. Help them find the right words to vocalize what they are feeling so you better understand their situation. It is just as important for your child to learn about asthma as much as you do. Best of luck to all the Mamas out there with asthmatic kiddos. I feel yah!

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