Friday, October 24, 2008

That'll teach me to complain about germs...

Perturbed by pinkeye? Little did I know the bigger, badder, nastier GERMS were just around the corner. I should have known.

Two days after my pinkeye post, I woke up in the middle of the worst panic attack I've had in years. Think waking up from your worst "a serial killer is chasing me" nightmare - we're talking heart-racing, cold-sweating, can't-breathe panic. Only there was no bad dream, this is something that for many years has just happened, anywhere and any time, for no apparent reason. Fortunately, in my 20s I found out it had a name - panic disorder - and could be treated with meds. So why was I in a panic now? I rarely have major attacks like that, unless I'm going to be violently ill.

Oh, crap.

That's right. I was about to be violently ill. And thus began the 48-hour stomach virus saga of '08. I don't deal well with barfing illnesses. Call me crazy, but that lost its appeal after 16 weeks of morning, noon and night sickness with Emma. I did, however, manage to survive. Even lost a few pounds in the process (although someone told them where to find me again. What is it with eating solid food and gaining weight?).

Saturday, I wasn't 100%, but Sunday and Monday I felt like myself again. Moving along, catching up on laundry, went grocery shopping and even cranked up the bread machine (there's that solid food catch-22 again). Fast forward to Monday night, 11:30pm. I hear a rustle over the baby monitor. A raspy yawn. Promptly followed by a bark, then three or four more. Loud, terrifying croupy barks.

Emma has been prone to croup since she was about 10 months old, when we had our first hospitalization because of it. A couple of years ago, she was getting it once or twice a month in the fall and winter months, and the doctors finally let us treat her at home with steroids when it happens. Even so, we've still had at least one ambulance ride since then, and despite promises that she will grow out of it, the croup monster continues to plague us. At this time last year, the pediatrician put her on a daily dose of Flovent, in hopes that the inhaled steroid would keep some of the inflammation in her airway down, and what followed was the mildest winter croup season we've ever had. She went off it in the summer months, and had her first bout of croup a month ago - relatively mild, but still requiring two doses of steroids.

We have treatment down to a science: chocolate pudding and tv work miracles. The pudding coats the pills that need to be swallowed, the tv distracts from the stress caused by difficulty breathing. Monday night, there was a little more distress than usual, a louder stridor, and a lot more worry on Emma's part. Still, she her breathing did quiet down a bit, and she went back to bed. Unfortunately, she barked all night and was still at it in the morning. This has never happened after steroids, so we were off to the pediatrician first thing.

Since then, we've had two more nights of steroids, and last night, which was borderline, but she made it through without the meds. She was still a bit raspy and barking this morning, and still very tired - everything was making her cry. I decided to keep her home from school again, so we're just laying low and watching way too much tv. We're all a bit sleep-deprived.

Here's a tiny clip of what our croupy nights are like

video

And for anyone interested in a reading a little further, here is something I wrote after an ER trip a few years ago.

Emma couldn't breathe tonight. I was sleeping on the bed in her room, to keep an eye on her, when she rolled over, coughed a couple times, and started to wheeze. That cough is always described as sounding like a seal barking. It doesn't sound like a seal to me. It sounds like an ER visit closing in around me like the dark night. I took her into the bathroom as she fought for breath, turned on the shower and tried to calm her. It wasn't working. She was scared, I was scared, and the steam didn't help. Her eyes were panicked, like a wild animal suddenly trapped.

I didn't know what to do next, so I ran downstairs and outside to see if the cold air would quiet the awful noise coming from my baby. It didn't, and we headed for the hospital, a frightened family in a minivan, speeding across a bridge. As we pulled up, I grabbed Emma and ran through the automatic doors. There were people everywhere in varying states of distress, but all went silent, heads turning to see the baby who sounded like a broken garbage disposal and her pale, frightened mother. Somebody yelled for the triage nurse, and as we waited, they started taking our information.

The triage nurse came to get Emma and me; Chad stayed to give the stupid details they want before they can save your life. As the nurse began asking for Emma's health history, we heard a thump and a scream from the waiting area. A woman had walked in and collapsed. The nurse jumped up to help, and I thought, "Forget her! This is my baby you're taking care of!" I feared there was a stabbing or gunshut wound, and my child would end up on the back burner, struggling to breathe.

Not the case. The nurse came back. He checked Emma's oxygen saturation level, and it was in the mid-80s. My heart became a stone in the ocean. Emma couldn't breathe, and I was scared shitless. I pasted on my game face and answered the ridiculous questions about a surgery that had nothing to do with her current condition, and the endless questions that come when they realize she has an extra chromosome. Six hours - six minutes? - later, they led us back to a private room. A mural with an elephant and a tiger playing a lewd game of doctor filled one wall. Almost immediately, a doctor came in and started asking more stupid questions.

Then my hero arrived on his beautiful charger named racemic epinephrine. It was the respiratory therapist from the NICU. Nearly three hours, one breathing treatment, and one dose of decadron later, we were on our way home. Lord, I hate modern medicine, hospitals and doctors. But Lord, am I thankful it's there to save my girl's life.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Forget the pumpkins, bring on the pig show!

Emma's pinkeye was under control Wednesday, so we got to go to the pumpkin patch with her kindergarten class. It was cold and foggy...but not raining...which can be a rare thing for October in the Pacific Northwest. Emma enjoyed every moment, especially the pig show.

What's a pig show? I'll try to describe it, but I wish I'd thought to take a video. So The Farm (in Snohomish, WA) has these pigs. There's an older pig, named George, and three little piglets. They have a pen set up with three little houses - one's supposed to be made of straw, one of corn (poetic license with the Three Little Pigs story), and one of sticks. Then there's a long run that leads to the brick house. The narrator tells the story, with big ol' George as the wolf. He goes to each house in turn as the piglets move into each one, then they drop the doors and the little pigs (chased by George) run past the kids to the brick house. Very hard to explain, but the narrator is hilarious, and the kids just laugh their heads off as the pigs run by. I somehow managed to get a shot of Emma's reaction. Do you think she liked it?



When we got home, all she talked about was the pigs. She was happy to have her pumpkin, but she really loved the pigs. Here are some pictures from the rest of our morning.









Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The germs...the GERMS!

I was really looking forward to this morning. Yesterday, I took a 20 minute walk after taking Emma to school and I was going to do it again today. Emma's therapies were scheduled for after school, which would have given me an extra hour to get things done. My list was a mile long, and I hit the ground running when I got up this morning.

Then Emma got up. With a raging case of pinkeye. ~fizzle~ That was the sound of my plans for the morning. Instead, we were off to the pediatrician, scoping out an Rx for gentamycin drops (which apparently sting, based on Emma's screams when I put them in her eyes). The good news? She can go back to school tomorrow as long as she doesn't wake up with crusty eye. The bad news? Tomorrow's the trip to the pumpkin patch, which I've volunteered for. There's no school Thursday (because the PM kindergarten is going to the pumpkin patch). And I have plans scheduled for Friday which will have me out of the house the whole time Emma is at school, which means my next chance of being home alone "getting things done" is Monday. No wonder my house is a wreck!

Yes, I'm a whiner. Yes, pinkeye is incredibly minor. But did I mention that my eyes have been feeling gritty and itchy for the last hour or so?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Special Exposure Wednesday



No Emma pics today, just some kitty love! George and Lucy (our snuggly kittens) can make any day better.





Okay, one Emma pic. "Look how nice I can be, Mom!"

Monday, October 6, 2008

Our Money Makeover story

We were featured in the Sunday Seattle Times, with a money makeover to help us plan for Emma's future. Financial planning was a good process to go through, and I'd recommend it to anyone. If you're in the Seattle area, I'd definitely recommend David Lamp at BBJS Financial Advisors, who did our plan for the article. He was wonderful!

If you'd like to read the article, you can go here.

 

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