What a couple of crazy nights (and days) we’ve had around here! Long, long story to follow.
Ava (my 13-month-old daughter) came down with a nasty cough on Wednesday. By Thursday, it sounded much worse so I called her doctor’s office to see if I could get her in for an appointment. They were short-staffed and didn’t have any openings, so I talked to the nurse and explained Ava’s symptoms (fever for a couple days, then she sounded hoarse which turned into a barky sounding cough and finally she started sneezing a lot and the coughing continued). She said it sounded like croup, which is a virus and just needs to run it’s course. She said use a humidifier, take her into a steamy bathroom if she gets coughing bad, and watch her breathing. If she has difficulty breathing, take her to Urgent Care or an ER.
We had been planning to go out of town for the weekend to a lake in Nebraska, leaving Friday morning, but after Ava’s cough wasn’t getting any better during the day on Thursday we resigned ourselves to staying home.
Thursday night Ava got worse and worse. She couldn’t sleep for more than a few minutes before waking up coughing badly. We almost took her to the ER around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning (July 29), but once we got outside she started doing better. So instead we walked up and down the street in the dark several times.
I decided to try laying with her on my chest on the couch to see if sleeping at an incline would help her. But by about 2:30 a.m., her breathing got steadily worse and she started really struggling. In fact, her sternum began caving in with each breath as she tried so hard to get oxygen. It was at that point that I yelled to Jody (who’d just gone to bed about 15 minutes beforehand) that we need to go to the ER NOW. We already had the car packed from earlier. I decided just to hold Ava in my lap for the short (1 mile) drive to the hospital since trying to buckle her in the carseat would take time and probably upset her and make it even harder for her to breathe (crying aggravates the condition a lot). By the time we pulled up to the ER, the skin around her mouth was turning blue. Jody dropped me and Ava off and I started filling out a registration form. A nurse heard Ava’s labored breathing and immediately took us into the assessment room and got Ava hooked up to a machine that monitored her oxygen levels. They were still in a good range. After putting a little info about Ava into the computer, she took us back to a gurney and the doctor was in to see us shortly thereafter.
Ava ended up having three breathing treatments that night, as well as a shot of steroids. She cried with every breathing treatment and I had to hold her arms down so the nurse could blow the medicine into her nose/mouth. It was hard to see her so upset but I was happy to do it knowing it was helping her get well.
While in the ER, Ava had to have two chest x-rays. Jody had gone home to sleep a little bit before then, so I had to help hold her during the x-rays which she was none too happy about either. They came back all clear though. That was a good sign.
Later on the ER doctor suggested we start an IV to help keep her hydrated. I explained that she is breastfed and was nursing a lot and I didn’t think dehydration was an issue. He said as long as she continued to nurse regularly, we wouldn’t have to start one. But then later, a nurse came in saying she had an order to start an IV. I told her what the doctor had said, but she said the reason for it was to administer medicine (like if she needed more steriods) and so I reluctantly agreed to it. Having to hold Ava while they tried to get it going was horrible. With the little tourniquet on her, her arm was all red and she just kept screaming. The first try getting the IV in didn’t work and the doctor came in at that point, probably to see why she was screaming so much. He told the nurse that she didn’t have to have an IV because she was breastfeeding and the nurse said she thought it was for medicine. Ugh. So the doctor said no, no IV. At least they didn’t have to try it again, but I was mad at myself for not having the nurse check with the doctor before we even started since he’d just told me we didn’t need one.
Since Ava had to have more than 1 breathing treatment and was still stridorous (Stridor is a harsh, raspy, whooping, gasping sound made when breathing in. This is especially worrisome when it happens while they are at rest.), the ER doctor admitted her to Pediatrics around 7 a.m.
The Ped ward was nice and all of the nurses were really good and friendly with Ava. (She got a stuffed animal doggy of her very own to take home too. She kept signing “bear” at it though because she thought it looked like a bear, so we named it Berry.) She continued to make slow but steady progress with her breathing during the day on Friday. She also acted like she was feeling a lot better. We got a visit from a little dog named Hepsie (with the animal therapy program through the hospital) Friday morning and Ava loved it. She also took to walking the halls of the Ped ward and saying hi to nurses, visitors, other patients, etc., and wowing them with her sign language. (I was surprised how many of the nurses had never heard of signing with babies.) She’s such a friendly girl.
Since croup usually is worst on the third night (which was Friday night), the pediatrician on call required that we stay another night. Better safe than sorry. Thankfully Friday night went really well. We all managed to get some sleep, though Jody and I are still exhausted. It didn’t help that the lil miss, who’s routine had been so messed up lately, decided at 3:30 a.m. that it was time to play for an hour and a half. So we hung out with the nurses for a bit and also played in the play room, where Ava enjoyed being pushed around in a little car.
This morning, after being examined by the doctor on call again, we got the all clear to go home. While waiting to be discharged, Ava got a visit from another doggy, Suzie. Hooray for doggies! We headed home around 11 a.m.
It’s good to be home and good to have Ava acting mostly like her old self again. She will probably still have the cough for another week and a half or so, but it shouldn’t affect her breathing anymore. Now if only Ava would go down for a nap, I could catch some more (very much-needed) Zzzzzs myself.
Updated 7/31/05: Here are a few pictures from our hospital adventure.