Friday, August 17, 2012

Pneumonia, Athsma, Viruses- oh my!

We are usually a very healthy family.  We try to take good care of our bodies so we don’t get sick, and if we do get sick we try to take extra good care to promote healing.  We were recently wiped out by a virus.

It started on a Wednesday.  I thought that I was just experiencing some early seasonal allergies.  Itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezes galore.  Typically, I would up my vitamin C intake and get some marrow broth out of the freezer.  Well, we were visiting my grandmother and the sneezes were one right after another.  I ended up taking a Benedryl … which I don’t handle very well.  My Tommy told me that after I took it, my grandmother asked me how much she needed to pay the Chinese delivery man and instead of giving her the total, I handed her a JoAnn’s gift card.  Yeah, I wasn’t coherent for about twelve hours. 

When I woke up from my Benedryl induced stupor on Thursday, the allergy-like symptoms had been replaced with a deep cough and wheezing.  I’ve never wheezed before in my life.  By the time that my Tommy got home from work it was so hard to breathe that I could only speak one word at a time with several deep breaths and coughs in between.  My Tommy took me to our local Emergency Room.  Many people would tell me that we should go elsewhere.  I’ve always supported our community hospital and defended it when others criticized it.

My Tommy and our babies went to hang out at my grandmother’s and I was treated very quickly.  Soon, after breathing treatments and steroids, I was feeling like maybe I wouldn’t die.   Now, taking steroids isn’t something I did lightly.  However, it was so hard to breathe that I took them gladly. 

After a chest x-ray, Ct Scan, and EKG (my pulse varied between 135 and 167) they decided to admit me.  I was still feeling quite poorly, but so very much better than I had been and it was so hard to allow them to keep me when all I wanted was to be at home snuggled down with my family.

My pulse had come down to 114, which while better was still high, so they wanted to do an Echocardiogram.   The gentleman that came to my room to do the Echo was great.  The nursing staff was amazing.  They were kind, thorough, careful, patient, and caring.   The Respiratory Technicians that came to give me my breathing treatments were excellent.  I was so very pleased with our little community hospital.  I didn’t want to be there, but was so thankful that while I had to be there I was being taken care of by such great people.

Just to rule out a clot in my lung, my doctor wanted to run a CV Scan.  By this late point in Friday, I had already spoken on the phone with my family.  I could hear coughing in the background.  To me, it just seemed like we had a virus that hit me harder than I’ve ever been hit before.  I told the nurse that I really didn’t want to go through with the test without talking to my doctor first.  She very kindly said that was fine and called my doctor.  When the doctor came to my room, I told her that I really wasn’t comfortable with subjecting my body to more radiation for a just-in-case-scenario.  I told her that some of my children were starting to get sick and I really felt like it was just a virus. 

She then told me that, actually the Ct Scan showed that I had Pneumonia and the reason they wanted to do the CV Scan was because it would definitely rule out a blood clot, which they were concerned about because many miscarriages can be a sign of a clotting condition.   She told me that the CV Scan used far less radiation than the chest x-ray and Ct Scan they had already done.  Now, I don’t want to accuse her of something that she did not intentionally do or say, but I really thought she said that the level up radiation went up from CV Scan, Ct Scan, then chest x-ray.  I really thought that the Ct Scan held the most radiation and briefly considered that she was just telling me what she thought I wanted to hear so I would consent to the test.  In the end, I think that I may have just misunderstood what she was saying or maybe she accidentally said the wrong thing.  She gave me no other reason to think she would lie to me.

Just after the doctor left, my Tommy brought Abigail to visit me.  She has Athsma that is flared by respiratory infection or stress.  When she came to sit by me I could see that her finger tips were purple, even though she had been using her inhaler.  Daddy immediately took her downstairs to the ER for her own breathing treatment. 

I called to let my mom and grandmother know that Tommy was taking her down.  While on the phone I heard Emily coughing pretty hard.  They said she wasn’t wheezing at all though, so she just sat to rest some.  This was about 5:00 pm on Friday. 

The transporter came to take me to nuclear medicine.  He was also very kind.  When we got down there and I talked to the technician, I told her that I just wasn’t comfortable doing the test as I really didn’t feel that it was needed and didn’t want to expose myself to more radiation for no reason.  Especially since I would have to breathe some in and be injected with some, which would expose anyone I came into contact with for three days.  I felt badly for making the technician stay to do my test and that the transporter had to come back to me, but they both were so very gracious and reassuring that the decision was mine.

What I really wanted was to be sitting in the ER with my Abigailie, holding her hand while she received her breathing treatment.  I started to silently cry, whishing I could be with my babies.

A while later some very kind friends came by to visit (on Connie’s birthday, no less!).  They even brought me a Chick-Fil-A salad and lemonade.  While they were there my Mom called and I asked her how Emily was doing and she said just fine.

Curtis went down to the ER to see if Abigail wanted anything from Chick-Fil-A and while he was down there, my grandmother called to say that Emily was really wheezing badly.  Connie so kindly went to sit with Abigail in the ER while Curtis and Tommy went to pick Emily up to bring her in to be treated.  My grandmother called again to say that Emily was working so hard to breathe that she threw up. 

I felt absolutely helpless.  I sat there in my hospital bed praying and trying not to cry.  Between my friends’ cell phones and our cell phone we were communicating often.  Connie and Curtis sat with our girls in their prospective ER rooms while Tommy came up to tell me that they wanted to transport Abigail.  The thought was not one I had ever entertained.  I asked why and he said that he thought it was because they needed to admit her and there weren’t enough rooms.  My nurse quickly assured me that if they admitted her, she would be on my floor and they might not know in the ER that they just had a patient leave so he quickly went to call the ER to let them know that a room was indeed available.

My nurse called down to the ER to see what was going on and tried to explain that it was hard enough for me to breathe and the added stress was making it harder so we could really use some details upstairs.

My Tommy had the girls’ doctor call me to explain that Abigail needed constant neb which they did not do constant neb at that hospital for pediatrics.  The doctor told me that they wanted to transport her to either Children’s In DC or University of MD in Baltimore.  I asked if we chose University of Maryland if Emily and I could go with her.  He said he would look into it.

My nurse very efficiently and immediately called my doctor who refused to discharge me.  The whole time, through talking, listening, and waiting I was constantly praying.  As soon as my nurse told me that my doctor wouldn’t discharge me until my treatment for Pneumonia was complete, I told him that I wanted the form to sign so I could leave against medical advice.  He swiftly got it for me and quickly unconnected me from my heart monitor and IV.

When I got down to the ER the girls were in two separate rooms, on either side of the ER.  Each girl had one of our friends sitting with them and Tommy had been going back and forth between each girl and me.  After giving hugs to each of my baby girls, I asked the doctor if both girls could move into Emily’s room since there were two oxygen hook ups.  He said it was fine with him and that he would talk to the nurse.  He also told me that the transport for Abigail to Children’s was 90 minutes away and that one of Emily’s lungs was clear and he thought that it would only take one more breathing treatment before she would be able to leave.

He refused to agree that their condition was any way related to mine.  In his mind, I had pneumonia (for the first time, never having any other breathing problems ever), Emily was having an athsma attack (for the first time, never having any other breathing problems ever), and Abigail was having a severe athsma attack- all at the same time … with no correlation to each other.

The girls were doing ok, even though they kept asking about each other and just wanted to be together.  I knew they would be able to relax more and ultimately breathe better if they could at least see that the other one was OK.  Also, when I sign any consent form, I write “I will or will not provide consent for any treatment after receiving explanation what the treatment is, unless it is a dire emergency and critical life saving action is needed, which I provide consent for now.”  Since I was not the one to sign the girls in, this was not on the consent form, however as their parent, I still wanted full knowledge of any treatment or procedure and wanted the ability to exercise my parental rights in regards to my girls’ care.  I never allow any medication to be given without checking to make sure it was truly intended for my child.  ERs are busy places with many faces.  Mistakes happen and I want to always do my part to protect my children.

I overheard the doctor asking someone at the nurses’ station if we could move the girls together, so I stepped out of the room to hear the response.  The nurse treated the doctor with utter disrespect and rudeness by scoffing at him and stating that it would never happen.  The doctor, who remained polite, said that there was indeed a second oxygen hook up and it was fine with him if it was fine with the nurses.

The disrespectful man that the doctor was speaking with said that since the girls had the same last name they couldn’t share a room because the nurses might mix treatment up.

I piped up and said that I would be there to make sure that didn’t happened.  He turned to me with the most disgusted look and with condescending arrogance said, “Absolutely not.  You are not qualified to do that.”  Seething audacity dripped from every word he slowly spoke as if I was trying to hurt my children and I couldn’t possibly have any idea what was best for them, while he on the other hand knew everything there was to know about everything.

I was in such shock that I merely stared at him a moment, not allowing the words I wanted to speak come out.  I asked to speak with someone over him before my Tommy turned me around and took me to Emily’s room.

The doctor came in to profusely apologize for the way the man spoke to me.  He told me that he knew it would be more “convenient” if the girls were together, which I interrupted him to tell him that mere convenience had nothing to do with it.  The ambulance was on the way to transport Abigail to Children’s and my only concern at that point was getting Emily ready to leave to go with us, as there was no way she was staying in that hospital while her sister left to go to another one so I told the doctor not to worry about the other man.

The doctor mentioned running a chest X-ray on Emily.  I said, in no uncertain terms, that he would not be running a chest X-ray on Emily, that if she needed an X-ray it would be done at Children’s.  The doctor told me that he still had to finish treating her.  I said that she would complete her breathing treatments until Abigail was being transported, then whether she was discharged or not she was going with us to Children’s.  He said that if he wanted to transport Emily, it couldn’t happen until the ambulance took Abigail there and came back for Emily, but he didn’t think Emily would need to be transported as she was almost completely clear with the last breathing treatment.  I again said, “Emily will continue her nebulizer treatments here, however, she will not be treated in any other manner while here.  Any other treatment or diagnostic she may need will happen at Children’s.”

The doctor still didn’t seem to understand and said that he didn’t think she would need to go to Children’s.  I said, “You aren’t understanding.  She is going to Children’s.  I will not leave her here while her sister goes to Children’s.  Whether she has completed treatment or not, she is leaving.”

Still not really in agreement, showing bafflement, and complete incomprehension the doctor left the room.  I went to Abigail’s room and after sitting a moment I started to cry.  Connie prayed with me and kept reassuring me that God was in control.  What is funny, is that when I was on my way down from my room I thought to myself that this was God’s way of teaching me that I can’t always control everything that happens to my children.  After Connie prayed I felt better, but was certain that even though I can’t control what happens to my children, I am still responsible for them and charged with making sure the best care for them possible is received. 

It was now about 1:30 am.  I called my brother to see if there was any way that his ambulance could transport Emily with a nebulizer.  He could not, but offered to help in any other way.  The doctor came in and listened to Emily’s chest and said that she was all clear and would be able to be discharged.  I told him thank you and asked that the discharge happen quickly as the ambulance was ten minutes out.

I called my cousin and asked him to listen to the other children to see if any of them were wheezing.  He said that Ian and Katherine may be wheezing a little, but he wasn’t used to listening to a child’s chest so wasn’t sure.   Not wanting to take any chances, we arranged for my baby brother to come get our truck from the hospital and pick the other kids up, to meet us at Children’s.  Ever available Connie and Curtis drove Tommy and Emily to Children’s while I rode in the ambulance with Abigail.

While I was on the phone with my brother, some sort of nurse manager came in to apologize for the rude man’s actions.  I told her thank you but I had other things to worry about and finished my phone call.

God’s timing was absolutely perfect.  Emily was discharged just in time so that they could follow us in the ambulance.

When we arrived at Children’s, they rolled Abigail to her room where they took her vitals and asked some questions.  Tommy, simultaneously, was taking Emily through triage.  When they brought Emily back, not only did they allow her to share a room with Abigail, not only did they let them share a bed- but they encouraged them to do so.

The entire atmosphere was calmer, more nurturing, and so very much more hopeful.
The doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapist were patient about seeing both girls at once and very careful to thoroughly examine each child.

Shortly thereafter, my brother and sister in law arrived with the other children.   Daddy listened to them and decided they were just coughing and didn’t need to be seen but had me come out and do a Mommy exam as well.  They sounded great compared to the other two.  Emily was doing much better herself, and discharged .

The doctors agreed that it was a virus that caused the breathing trouble.  I felt awful for exposing my family and our friends to such a nasty virus, but even though a few have been effected by it they are all healing nicely.

My mom and grandmother arrived and took Emily, Katherine, Jonathan, and Ian out to breakfast since it was now after 6:00 am.

They admitted Abigail into a spacious room where she was cared for by sweet, tender staff.  My mother and grandmother went shopping to get the kids a change of clothes and some other items.  They came back with j anything we could have possibly needed then went home so Tommy could bring the healthy kids to them.  Abigail received care throughout the day, that night, and the whole of the next day.  Tommy had brought Jonathan up to see us.  Just before leaving to take him home, we asked the nurse if there was any chance Abigail would be able to go home that night since she had been meeting her goals of only needing a breathing treatment every four hours instead of two, and not needing oxygen in between.  She said that since she still needed oxygen when she was sleeping, she didn’t think we would leave that night.

Tommy took Jonathan home around 7:00 pm and before he arrived home the nurse said that Abigail was indeed going to be released.  So, Daddy turned around and came to get us.

God really blessed us with friends and family who went above and beyond to help out while we were there.  His timing was perfect and His peace was sweet.

I'm so thankful that my babies were so well cared for by my mother and grandmother when I couldn't be there.  My arms and heart ached for them but, I knew they were OK.  My grandmother told me that Jonathan would stand by the window, shrugging his shoulders and say, "Momma?"  One time my cousin heard Jonathan crying, then he heard a dial tone.  He found Jonathan with the phone trying to call Momma.  It breaks my heart, but I am so very thankful that we are all back together again and all of my babies are healthy!

Parents, I urge you to take your responsibility for your children’s health care very seriously.  The doctors and nurses may have gone to school, however you know your own child.  You are their best advocate.  Any “caregiver” who offers an attitude of arrogance and feels like they are the only one that knows the right way to care for your child, in my opinion, is a caregiver to flee.  In my mind there is nobody more dangerous to my child than somebody who doesn’t respect the important role of the parents in the care of their children.  Not to mention, they are providing a service.  One you are paying for … and not cheaply.  An account of our ER visit will be given to the hospital board of directors and a letter will be submitted to our local newspaper.  I will never take any of my children to that hospital again.  It is very sad that one bad apple has to spoil the pot, but I would not feel comfortable with that man having anything to do with my children’s care again.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

wow Lisa, i hadn't read the whole story. that was so scary!
you are such a strong Mama!
praying for you, dear. so glad everyone is healing up now.