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

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.


All 4 My Gals said...

My Em had a horrible case of croup about a month we're on to lice. UGH! It's ALWAYS something. Hope you guys are all well soon.

luvmypeanut said...

You've had your share of the winter ickies... even before winter has started!

I hope this is it! There's nothing worse than the stomach flu or the croup. I'd take pinkeye any day! LOL

mum2brady said...

Oh man, you've had a month Amy! Praying that Emma is feeling better and that you've kicked the croup monster back to it's cave for the winter!

Sending lots of hugs and love!

Tara Marie said...

Oh my, that sounds horrible. I am so thankful that you have the treatment down and praying that you don't have to exercise it too many times this winter.

Feel better Emma Fern and Amy, I'm so glad you are better....those stomach virus's are the pits.


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