Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Week to Cry About

Note: This is a rather lengthy post due to the rather lengthy trauma experienced. Don't feel guilty if you can't finish reading. It's mostly for me to remember. Scroll down for captioned pictures.

 If there was ever a week to cry about it would have been last week.

It all began with Lydia waking up with a slight cough and a runny nose. Oh great, I thought, not another cold. Soon it turned into a stronger cough and then her eyes were full of yellow gunk and red and swollen. She also had a horrible rash on her bum. One doctor trip later, I was armed with eye drops and cream for a yeast infection.

About this time, it was evident that Lydia had passed her virus onto her younger brother. Not surprising considering the constant full-body attention she pays him. The poor guy had a slight cough and had stopped eating and was throwing up most everything he did drink. Now this sounds pretty horrible but I was used to it because this is his normal sick behavior. I figured I just needed to weather through the storm. I was slightly concerned because of the amount of mucus that was causing him to throw up. So... I called Ammon's nurse and she said to use saline nose drops and feed him some white grape juice mixed with water to break up the mucus. That really helped so I was relieved.

Then the fevers started. Lydia developed a high fever. Usually it hung around 103 but at one point it reached 104.7. Wow. I called the triage nurse and she just said to switch medicines to bring it down and see how Lydia was in an hour. The tylenol brought it down, so we watched her and I just prayed her fever would break.

Ammon didn't have fevers at this point, boy was I grateful. A couple days later, he did. Joy. It was apparent both kids were going down-hill. Lydia's fever was getting lower and lower so I thought we were turning the corner. They both were given blessings and I was feeling calm.

Monday morning when Lydia woke up she had no fever. I almost did a cheer right there in her bedroom. I thought we finally were in the clear. Until I checked Ammon. Let me tell you it was the scariest sight I have ever seen in my entire life. Green mucus had crusted over both eyes and plugged up both nostrils. His mouth was also sealed shut with the dried green mucus except for one tiny little corner. It was amazing that he made it through the night considering the only way he could breath was through that tiny crack in his mouth. I immediately cleaned up his face, but the mucus was so thick and crusted that it made his lips bleed. I also called his pediatrician. Upon hearing my name, I could hear the mental sigh the nurse Gwen (yes we are on a first name basis, embarrassingly) gave through the phone, and I insisted on coming in THAT morning.

Let me warn you, when a doctor or nurse silently looks at or listens to something concerning your child over and over again, be concerned. Be very concerned. Dr. Cosgrove was doing the standard check up and while listening to Ammon's lungs, he kept listening. And listening. And listening. Finally he finished the exam and sat down and explained he heard some crackling in the lower left lobe of Ammon's lung. He recommended a couple of days in the hospital. My eyes must have popped out of my head when he said that because:
A. I wasn't expecting that diagnosis and I felt complete shock
B. The doctor was saying things like "don't worry" and "don't panic" and "I don't mean to scare you."

He claimed that he didn't believe it was too serious but that he wanted him watched at the hospital to make sure it didn't turn into anything serious and before I drove to the hospital the nurse was going to measure Ammon's oxygen.

Well sweet Gwen came in and after some silent measuring and more silent measuring, I was catching on that the readings weren't good.  Next thing I knew the Dr. Cosgrove comes rushing in saying, "He's a lot sicker than I thought!"  Soon a few more nurses were rolling in with oxygen tanks and cords and spewing numbers. Come to find out they like oxygen levels to be above 90 and Ammon's were below 80. Bad, very bad.

So thanks to these oxygen levels I got to create quite a scene at the pediatrician's office with an ambulance arriving, my child being strapped to a stretcher and EMT's escorting us both out (one of the EMT's was very attractive, I'm sure you were wondering). I received hugs from nurses, curious stares, and even a concerned good luck from someone sitting in the waiting room.

Despite everything going on I sure had fun riding in an ambulance. No, the lights weren't on but the attractive EMT still drove fast! I saw through the little window that he was going at least 90. Wohooo! I don't know why I wasn't that worried, maybe I was in shock, or maybe I felt secure in knowing they were taking care of us, but honestly I just enjoyed the wonder of riding in an ambulance for the first time.

Once we arrived at Primary Children's Emergency, reality sunk in a bit more as they poked and prodded my little guy. He was so good and didn't cry while they stuck him with an IV, catheter, or during his lung x-rays. He did cry after they suctioned his lungs out (since you can't really cry while you have a tube stuck up into your nose around and down back into your throat that is sucking all the air and mucus out of you). I wanted to lay on the floor and sob while I watched them torture/help him. But I didn't. They said I could leave but I couldn't. Instead, I used all my willpower to keep the tears from welling up.
Ammon at the ER
Then it became a waiting game of receiving the test results and gaining actual admittance to a room in the hospital.  While I was waiting I couldn't get my mind off Lydia. If Ammon was this sick, was Lydia this sick as well? Should she be seen because, after all, she was sick first? Whenever the doctors asked if I had anymore questions I just asked if they thought my daughter should be seen too. I couldn't get her out of my mind. They said that if I was worried to schedule an appointment with her pediatrician. So I told myself she was doing much better because she is older.

Ammon's tests came back positive for RSV, dehydration, and an ear infection. It was also determined that the RSV had turned into bronchiolitis/pneumonia. My poor little guy.We were admitted to a room, Brigham arrived, and I prepped myself for a long night in the hospital.

Then I received another phone call.

Brigham's mom had been watching Lydia for me all day. I had already called and told her to watch Lydia's breathing since Ammon was in the hospital and I couldn't get Lydia out of my mind. Well, Brigham's mom called concerned over Lydia. Not only had Lydia's fever come back with a vengence, but she was breathing fast. When she put the phone up to Lydia I panicked. The way she was breathing was not right.

This is the one time I cried. When I told the nurse that Brigham and I had to leave to get our other child to bring her in as well, I couldn't keep the tears at bay. Especially when I asked the nurse if she would hold Ammon if he cried while we were gone, I couldn't choke back the sob. I felt so much fear for both my children.

I wiped away my few tears and soon we were rushing home to rush back. Brigham went to stay with Ammon while I spent another grueling six hours at the ER. It was determined that Lydia needed to be on oxygen, had a double ear-infection, and her lung x-ray showed pnemonia as well. However, her nose swab did not test positive for RSV. Strange considering she was the first person to get sick, and Ammon couldn't have gotten RSV from anyone else.
Lydia at the ER
I thought it was hard watching Ammon get suctioned out, but watching Lydia was pure agony. She kept screaming "all done" as they suctioned her. Having to watch the nurses hold her down as they stuck that tube down her nose was beyond horrible. I wanted to punch both nurses in the face, scoop Lydia up and whisk her away. The look on her face while they suctioned her tore me apart. Somehow, once again, I didn't cry. I think I was too tired to cry. Then I was too busy holding Lydia's ams down for an hour while she got used to the oxygen in her nose and stopped trying to pull it out.

Because Lydia didn't test positive for RSV, they weren't going to let our two kids room together because they didn't want the virus being spread. However, they later decided both kids had already been thoroughly subjected to each other's germs and there was no risk to room together. Thank goodness! It would have been so hard to hop rooms between the two kids. Now we could just have one big family sick room. It ended up being the best decision, especially since Lydia's tests came back later testing positive for RSV after all. So Lydia was finally admitted to the hospital as well and we walked in our room to find Brigham feeding Ammon. I was so grateful for the guidance I had to watch Lydia closely and to bring her to the ER as well instead of waiting for her regular doctor. Now both of my babies were on track to recovering.

That first day I was in the ER from 10:00am to 2:00am that night. By time I laid down to rest in the hospital chair/bed, my head felt like someone was punching it over and over, my throat was on fire, and my stomach was eating itself since I hadn't eaten all day, making it hard to sleep due to nauseousness. I was miserable but relieved.
Ammon's monitor
The next few days consisted of nurses, doctors, suctionings, oxygen levels, and lots of Sesame Street videos. Each new nurse was surprised to find out both our kids were in the hospital and soon we had the room dedicated to our family name. We would be allowed to leave as soon as the kids were eating and drinking well on their own and off oxygen during day. So we slowly started turning off the oxygen and unhooking them for parts of the day.

Lydia became very tired of the room and became a little escape artist. Because the kids had such a contagious virus, the weren't allowed to leave. The second Lydia was unhooked she asked for the door to the room to be opened. We opened it and she took off running saying, "Bye! See-ya!" She was devastated when she was caught and we wouldn't let her leave.

The nurses were all impressed by Lydia saying that she was one of the best two-year-olds they had ever worked with. Apparently most two-year-olds scream and fight when their vitals are checked. Lydia just sat patiently as they examined her. One nurse said she was going to have Lydia show all the other kids how to behave. They also loved that Lydia covers her mouth every time she coughs. :) That's my girl. I worked hard to train her with that one.
Lydia's Monitor

Lydia was suctioned out a total of three times, and Ammon was suctioned out more times than I can count. It never got easier. After two nights, and on the third day we were anxiously awaiting our discharge. However, Lydia would not drink and if we didn't start getting liquids in her, she was going to need an IV and we would have to stay. I thought Lydia wasn't drinking because her throat hurt. (It was apparent at this point that I was going to be sick with the same virus and my throat was KILLING me, so I figured she must be having the same problem). I convinced them to give her some tylenol, and sure enough about an hour after she had the medicine, she drank an entire juice box. Hooray!
Ammon, the third day at the hospital. He has the red gouges around his eyes because he kept trying to rub the oxygen out of his nose, but because he doesn't have the best hand control yet, he would miss and gouge his eyes out instead. He later became an expert at getting the oxygen tubing off.

We also had to see how the kids did without oxygen at nap-time. They both were off it while awake so if they could make it through their long afternoon naps with no oxygen then we would be good to go. Lydia did awesome! Unfortunately, Ammon didn't quite make it and it was apparent he would still need oxygen while sleeping. The doctor didn't see any need for us to stay at the hospital when both kids were drinking fine and their lungs sounded pretty much clear, so we were discharged with Ammon only needing to be on oxygen while sleeping and eating.
Lydia during her final nap at the hospital. You can see the stickers on her face to keep the oxygen tubes in place. Luckily after this she didn't need it anymore!
Since Ammon was still needing to be suctioned out every once in awhile they wrote us a prescription for an out-patient suction clinic and for in-home oxygen delivery. I was nervous to take care of all of this on my own, but I was also ready to go home! We were exhausted and ready for our own beds.
Brigham catching a nap with the kids
We were discharged at four pm, and left for home about six pm. I thought Lydia would be happy to finally leave the room but when I asked her if she was ready to go home she lost it completely. I know she was tired, but I think she had become used to the constant treats, juice, Sesame Street movies, books, and attention. We literally carried her screaming out to the car to bring her home. She calmed down while in the car, but as soon as we pulled onto our street she picked the screaming right back up and didn't stop until her bath and bed. Her Uncle Sam couldn't even cheer her up and she had been asking for him all day.

The huge oxygen tank arrived promptly that night with a million rules to keep it from blowing everything up. Because it couldn't be moved around, I had it set up in the living room since that's where we spend most of our time during the day. Unfortunately that meant I would not get to sleep in my bed until Ammon was off oxygen because I would need to sleep out on the couch next to him. How I missed my bed!
It was still lovely to sleep without nurses waking us up constantly and the next day was much better as the kids seemed to improve leaps and bounds in their own home. I had to take Ammon to get suctioned at seven in the morning because I could tell he couldn't eat and breathe at the same time because he had way too much mucus plugging him up (doesn't this rsv sound fun?). Then I had to rush both kids back to the doctor for a follow-up. At the hospital everything came to you, now I was rushing around to everyone. However, gas is still cheaper than paying for a hospital room.

At the doctor's, Lydia's lungs were completely clear but Ammon was still going to need the oxygen all weekend. The doctor showed me how to flush the mucus out with saline so I wouldn't have to take Ammon in to the suction clinic anymore. By the time we got home, Lydia was acting like it all had never happened and was her usual spunky self. Besides the oxygen at night, Ammon also was turning a corner and soon was more alert and advancing faster than I had ever seen him.  It's amazing how fast kids bounce back.
Ammon with oxygen at home. Look at those cheeks!
After the weekend was over, and on Tuesday, I received a clean bill of health for Ammon as well. No more oxygen! I have my healthy happy kids back. The only problem now is that Brigham and I are trying to finish out the virus. We're the ones hacking up a lung now. 

That week was the hardest week, definitely one worth crying over. People ask me how I wasn't falling apart, crying all the time. I don't really know. When I look back, there were moments I wanted to cry but I just didn't. This is my normal reaction to emergency situations. I tend to keep it together until after it's all said and done, then I'm like a dam bursting. I started to cry on the way home from the doctor's the day after being released from the hospital, but I stopped myself because I was driving and had laundry to do when I got home. I kept telling myself I could cry about it all later. I still haven't cried about it yet. I think I have moved on. Either that, or I've buried the horror deep inside. 

I'm so grateful to the doctors and nurses that were there to help us and take care of us. Primary's is truly amazing. I'm so grateful for the guidance I had about each of my children. I'm so grateful for the help that people gave and offered. It was amazing! Most of all, I'm grateful for my children's good health! While in the hospital, my great aunt surprised me by stopping by. Apparently one of her grandchildren that was only 21 days old was in the hospital with kidney failure. How sad and horrible! Despite how awful everything was for my children, I'm so grateful it wasn't something much worse and that they are home with me now.


  1. I got all teary myself a few times reading through this. I am so glad both your kids are doing so well now! What an sad terrible week for you! Again, I'm glad you made it through and all is well now!

  2. Oh and by the way, the night we heard Lydia had such a high feaver (before Ammon was sick) Sam had sad little dreams about Lydia being sick.

  3. Kari you rock. Thanks for begin a great example of a parent. Hope I can be like you one day.

  4. I cried as I read that...I'm SO glad that they're doing better and that they're healthy! We were all worried and praying for them. We love them both so much :)

  5. Holy Cow! What a scary ordeal. I'm glad everything and everyone is on the mend. Good for you for being a vigilant mom and listening to the spirit.

  6. Wow, quite a story. Kari, your epinephrine levels were probably through the roof throughout the whole experience. good thing, thats what gets us to adapt to the the alarm and resistance phases of stress. RSV sucks. You should buy a stethoscope on amazon for cheap so you can listen for any hint of crackles in the future before oxygen levels drop. Glad everything turned out well! P.S. we want to invite you guys over sometime, this week is finals week for me though, so stay tuned.