Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eye-yai-yai

Sorry all for the posting delay (just when I was getting back in the regular schedule again), but I really do have a good excuse. Last week, we made our first trip to the Urgent Care (the daytime ER as I like to call it) with the Biscuit.

I got the call at the office around 10-ish from daycare. The Biscuit had slipped after getting off the slide and plunged into the wooden border that held the mulch in place on the playground and cut his face next to his eye. I live about an hour from where I work (and the Biscuit's daycare is about 10 mins from our house) so the drive to get him after these frantic calls is always grueling. I was told on the phone that the gash was big enough that he would need stitches. I imagined that my child was being held in a special room at daycare with blood gushing from his forehead (during the 45 mins that it would take me to get to him).

To my relief, the wound had clotted by the time I got there and the Biscuit was just angry that he couldn't go back out to the playground. We hugged and quickly headed to the Urgent Care (apparently pediatricians don't do stitches anymore, as I found out). The Biscuit was a model patient at the UC... until the doc walked into the room.

As soon as the doc started poking around, the Biscuit started wailing and whooping and screeching in ranges that I didn't think were possible from a male body. I had to almost sit on top of his legs to try to hold him still during the inspection and cleaning of the wound. It became quite obvious that stitches (though they were what I preferred for him) would not be possible with such a squirmy toddler (especially since the wound was right next to his eye). We had to resort to the old Dermabond (aka medical super glue) to seal the wound.

During the entire time the doc was trying to seal the wound, the Biscuit kept screaming "Hold you Maminka, hold you." My heart ached to see him so distressed. After what seemed an hour (though was likely mere minutes), the doc finished and sent us on our way.

When we walked back out through the waiting area, all eyes were on us with looks of "awww, poor fella" and the like. Clearly, everyone had heard the Biscuit as well. Well, it's now day 8 and the superglue is still there (the doc said 5-7 days)... am hoping it falls off soon.

Daylight Savings Time\Standard Time is coming. So folks, prepare your little ones for the upcoming time change. If you can (I can't) get 'em in bed a little bit earlier each night this week so Sunday night won't be such a big change.

And, I'll ask for some extra prayers for the Biscuit's beloved Starenka. She's not doing very well after her own bump up this past week. After the Biscuit's event, I spent the following days in the ER and hospital with my own Maminka (Starenka) -- something must be in the air.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stay Tuned

Hi everyone. My apologies for no Wednesday post this week. 1 trip to urgent care and 1 trip to the ER are my excuses. Stay tuned... back on track next Wednesday with details.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Looking Back: RSV

Well folks, I've mentioned the Biscuit's trip to the hospital a number of times in the blog, so I think it makes sense that I actually give the details on it. This'll be a long one, so tuck in. Here's how it all went down...

When the Biscuit was about 6 months old, we took a trip across the country to visit some relatives. Biscuit had his first plane ride as part of the trip and caught one heck of a cold after we got back from the trip. Actually, my husband and I also caught a bit of a cold after we returned home, too.

For all of us, the cold manifested mostly as a horrible cough (that couldn't be soothed with any OTC medicine or herbal remedy). I constantly had a coughdrop in my mouth (even as I slept...kids, don't try that at home). The Biscuit's runny nose and cough persisted for over a week, but he barely had a fever. We treated him with doses of ibuprofen off and on and ran a humidifier in his room nightly. We also added one of those plug in the wall soothing vapors to see if it would help his cough. He never seemed to be struggling with the cold any more than a typical cold. I was mostly keeping an eye out for signs of an ear infection from the drainage. He was sleeping through the night and his appetite was normal. All seemed okay.

I got a call from the Biscuit's daycare about a week and a half into the cold symptoms. They said he was running a temperature of 101 (their indication that he had to go home) and they mentioned that it looked like he might have pink-eye. I left work immediately and called his doctor to make an appointment for a couple of hours later.

I got the Biscuit home to get changed and kill the extra hour we had before it was time to go to the doctor. He spent that hour in my arms... he was beginning to show signs of lethargy. Less than 5 minutes later, I noticed that mucous (that daycare had assumed was pink-eye) was around both of his eyes (a sign I now know as a double sinus infection). I went ahead and left to go to the doctor's office early.

When we sat at the doctor's office, I could tell his fever had increased a bit. He lay in my arms in the waiting room. I could hear his breathing becoming labored. I told the receptionist that we needed to see the doctor, and we got back to the exam room. The doctor came in quickly, listened to his heartbeat and breathing and several nurses tried to get his temperature (which they weren't able to do very easily). The doctor walked out of the room for a moment and came back in to break the news.

In a fog, the doctor told me that Biscuit was having trouble breathing and that we needed to get him some oxygen and some medicine quickly. And, she said, we need to get him to the hospital. She said she suspected that he has respiratory synticial virus (RSV). My doctor's office was across the street from the hospital so it seemed less of a big deal to me, surely it was just a precaution... they must not have the equipment he needs. The doctor then explained that we needed to transport the Biscuit to the specialty hospital downtown (about 20 minutes away) in an ambulance. "Okay" I somehow mumbled.

The EMTs showed up quickly, put my almost lifeless baby on a stretcher and off we went. I found out then that there is a special back door at the pediatrician's office where babies in this condition are taken, so as not to alarm the other patients and parents. I got on my cell, called the Biscuit's dad and my own parents.

I wasn't able to ride in the back with the Biscuit, but was assured that I would know if his condition worsened along the way. Of course, we had to travel during rush hour so the ride took longer. The Biscuit's daddy met us at the ER door. I had composed myself during the long ride and was ready to be strong momma again.

When the Biscuit got to the hospital, they took his REAAAAL temperature (and you all know where they get the real one from). His temp was 105. It took MUCH longer than it should have to get him some ibuprofen to get his fever down... I paged the nurse 2X and my husband finally had a face-to-face at the nurses station that helped us get the Tylenol to my son. He was then poked, prodded, x-rayed, Iv-ed, O2 tubed, pulse Ox monitored, etc.

In the end, he was diagnosed with RSV, a double ear infection, double-pneumonia, and who knows what else. Some rounds of antibiotics, lots of oxygen, and lung medication (albuterol and pulmicort) and plentiful doses of breastmilk finally led my Biscuit out of the hospital 5 days later.

Looking back, if it had to do it all over again, I wouldn't put my my 6-month old infant on a plane during the height of cold and flu season, I would give my son a dose of ibuprofen or Tylenol BEFORE we left for the doctor (or at least carry some with me), and I would be more aware of the fact that MY "unable to be calmed cough" was probably an indicator of an upper respiratory infection, which could mean something far worse for my babe.

We had to continue lung medication treatments on the Biscuit for over a year to keep the Biscuit healthy. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this year we won't have to pull out the nebulizer and Pulmicort.

Another little boy in the Biscuit's class at school (we later found out) had RSV immediately before the Biscuit so who's to say for sure where it came from. I suspect the plane, but I'm a germ freak and airplane air is just nasty.

All in all, I know we were lucky. The Biscuit was in terrible shape when we got to the hospital, much worse than I've ever allowed myself to believe I'm sure. I am grateful that he was such a healthy boy going in to fight the RSV, and I think the extra chunkiness helped too. Goodness knows we had a slew of prayers helping us get through it all. Thanks to those of you who were there for us when we went through it and for those who went through it with me again just now.

Love them all you can every day, and keep your little one's safe during cold and flu season.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Did a Little Jacket Scare You?

He takes a huge gulp from his glass, knocks it back, and exhales with an "Ahhhhhhh. This is the life." These are not words I expected to hear from my 2 1/2 year old following dinner tonight as he drains his sippy cup of milk. As always, the Biscuit amazes me with his mature verbal skills and continues to make his momma-linguist proud.

He's growing up so fast, yet he's still my little baby. I don't know if it's the scarecrows, pumpkins, ghouls, and general spookiness in the air that let us know Halloween is fast approaching or if it's just that time in a toddler's developmental stage, but lately my ever-mature Biscuit has regressed back a bit to his earlier days of fear of the unknown. Surely you all remember my post about the scary doorstop in Moving to a New House 3 when the Biscuit learned the phrase "scared you." Now the Biscuit has moved from doorstops to bulky jackets.

The Biscuit's Starenka picked up a winter jacket for him a couple of weeks ago (we love Starenka who's always picking up stuff). I finally washed the jacket and hung it on the doorknob of a closet door that's in the hallway on the way to the Biscuit's bedroom. When the Biscuit walked out of his bedroom one morning, he saw the shape of the bulky jacket hanging on the doorknob. He quickly moved to the far side of the hallway and demanded my hand as we walked down the hall together.

I realized that it did look a bit like a little boy standing in the shadows of the hallway, so I put the jacket away in the closet. The Biscuit, brilliant boy, was not fooled. He knew the jacket was still in the closet (and hence the scary thing is still there). His fears progressed each morning. When he woke up this morning, his first words to me were "Jacket scare you?" This was his way of asking if I had been scared to walk down the hallway by myself to get him. This morning he wouldn't walk by himself holding my hand, instead he demanded that I carry him down the hallway past the closet.

So folks, how does mommy rid the house of the demon jacket fears? It's about 9 hours until tomorrow morning's monster jacket defense lesson. Though I traditionally do quite well under pressure, I just don't have a plan for this particular attack. Time for monster spray perhaps.

Oh the joys of motherhood. What simple pleasures and tribulations we get to face as we teach our little ones life-changing skills... like bravery and courage. It's truly amazing to me to step back for a moment and recognize the true impact that I will have with how I choose to address this comical and deceptively minor situation.

On that note, I'll drink in a deep breath of courage of my own. Ahhhh, Biscuit... This is the life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting warmer, warmer, uh-oh, burning up!

The Biscuit has had so many incidents of fever in his short life. From below average readings (96 - 98) all the way up to 105. I feel like a pro when it comes to fever management. I'm sure there are a few WOWZAs out there seeing the 105 (and yes, I'm probably the only 1 left who still says wowza), so I have to explain that the 105 fever was associated with a trip to the hospital via AMBULANCE (no fun for a mommy or a baby) that occurred when the Biscuit had RSV. (This is the 2nd time I've mentioned the RSV event in this blog so you can count on that to be posted next). But, I (as usual) digress... back to the hot topic.

The Biscuit was sick this past weekend with what I later found out to be a stomach virus that was going around. He had a mild fever and was throwing up all night long. His fever was so mild (100 or so) I didn't even bother to do much about it. Frankly, the throwing up was the immediate worry for both of us.

The next day, however, his hurling ceased while the fever persisted. So I treated the fever as I normally do. First course of action: dose of ibuprofen. Now, I am not a medical doctor (though I probably should have been and goodness knows it would've been helpful right now with the turmoil going on in financial services industry) so take my advice or not, but always use your best judgment and consult your doctor too. Dr. Spock has some thoughts on fever management you can read about if interested.

When the Biscuit has a fever, here is the traditional course of action that I take:

Dose of ibuprofen (repeated every 6-8 hours until fever breaks); my doctor told me that ibuprofen works better on fevers. It is CRUCIAL that you give your child the correct dosage. Too much is bad and too little may make it ineffective at these critical times, which has happened to me. The Biscuit is a chunky boy so I ask my doctor every 6 months or so what the proper dosage is. If the Biscuit's fever doesn't go down at all, I'll do the following:

  1. TLC
  2. Take off all clothing, except a pull-up, diaper, undies (whatever); clothing keeps the heat in
  3. Offer a drink of water/juice (ideally, offer room temperature liquids b/c the body has to burn energy to get the temp of the liquid to that of the body BUT the Biscuit is NEVER in the mood to drink anything when he has a fever so the ONLY thing I am able to lure him to drink during fever time is a cool juice box)
  4. Cool washcloth on the forehead, back of the neck, or top of head
  5. Turn on a cool fan, turn down the A/C
  6. Dose of Tylenol. This is a bit controversial, so definitely talk to your doctor. Advice I have gotten from another toddler mommy and my doctor was to wait the 20 mins or so to see if the ibuprofen is working. If it doesn't start to lower the fever, give the appropriate dose of Tylenol. You can keep the 2 going (alternating) as long as you keep to the 4-6 hours for Tylenol and 6-8 for ibuprofen. I ONLY do this when there is a high need to get the fever down quickly.

So those are the basic tips I have to share. Fevers can be scary but if you have the checklist in your head, it's easier to think it through before rushing to the ER in the middle of the night. I think we, as parents, tend to know whether our toddler is OK and just fighting a fever or in trouble. I am more confident in my ability to help the Biscuit through a fever after dealing with him in the worst of circumstances. When the Biscuit had RSV, I held his lethargic, labored-breathing body in my arms as he fought a 103 fever that escalated to 105 in less than 2 hours.

I now know when a 103 fever is just a fever that I can bring down and when he is in trouble and needs medical intervention. Fortunately, all parents haven't had the same desperate circumstances. My rule of thumb is that I always give it an hour following all of the above and if it hasn't gone down at all... I may call the doctor (if it has gone up and hits 103 and rising I'm on my way to the urgent care center).

The body is a magical thing and fevers are a natural way for it to fight off infection. TLC is an amazing remedy and nothing beats the magic that "mommy hold me" can do. Good luck with your little ones as we enter Flu season.