Today was supposed to be the day of Nicole’s tonsillectomy. But we had to cancel because she got a cold this weekend. We weren’t sure if it would develop into a chest cold or not but didn’t want to risk it. The last time she had a bad cold she ended up having a severe asthma attack and had to spend some time in the Children’s hospital with a collapsed lung. We definitely don’t want to go there again!!
I’ve heard it said before that when you have a child, its like putting your heart on the outside of your body. You’re vulnerable, so easily frightened to death! The first time we experienced that was when Nicole was about 5 weeks old. She got sick, really sick. In fact, she had caught a virus, respiratory synctial virus, RSV. It’s deadly for preemies, because their airways are so small that they basically drown in mucous. Nicole was born six weeks early, so at five weeks was still pretty small, about the size of a newborn.
I had sat up with her on my chest all night because she had this sharp cough that wouldn’t go away. In the morning (Saturday), we took her to my doctor with me because I was sick too. I had a really bad sinus infection. My sister Margaret was visiting so she came with me. The doctor x-rayed Nicole’s chest and said it looked a bit hazy, that maybe she had aspirated some milk or something. She sent us home, both with antibiotics; me for my sinus’ and Nicole, just in case she had something bacterial. The doctor told me to take her to my pediatrician if she wasn’t better by Monday. Well, by later that afternoon, she was still coughing and when I was nursing her I noticed she looked kind of yellow against the skin of my breast. I phoned our pediatrician’s office then got a call back from the on-call doctor. She was really non-committal and basically said to do ‘what you think is best’. If you’re worried, go to the hospital. (I think they assume all new parents over react to everything and don’t want to deal with them!). A bit later, when Nicole was coughing I noticed her going a bit blue around the mouth. That was it, my instinct told me something was really wrong. I told Ron I thought we’d better go, he turned off the supper he was cooking and got ready. We bundled her up and drove as fast as we could to the Grey Nuns, the hospital in the city where she was born. We figured we’d get in fastest at their Emergency since she was already in their computer.
I’m eternally grateful to the admitting department at the emergency that day. We were ushered right in. By then, Nicole was barely conscious. A nurse measured her blood oxygen level right away and said ‘that can’t be right, the machine must be off’. It was 49%. She scurried off for a new machine and, thankfully, brought a respiratory technician with here. They immediately measured again to confirm the low reading and started her on oxygen. There followed 3 or four hours of inhaled meds, and tests. I was so scared and so incredibly pissed off at the nurses too, every thing they did to her made her scream. (I realize in retrospect that maybe screaming was a good sign but it sure didn’t feel that way!) I couldn’t figure out why the hell they had to stick a probe way up up her arse to take her temperature when we’d already told her what it was and the ear one would have given just as good a ballpark figure. But no, she had to do the bum thing twice, and get her screaming both times. Then there was the nose and throat swabs, the xrays (in a contortionist’s contraption of course), the blood work. That was a joy, those two techs were so anxious trying to get their needles into veins the size of threads on a subject who was screaming the whole time. Ron was right with me, through the whole thing; stoic, and just as scared as me. I’m beting it was harder for him. At least I was nursing so they kept pushing Nicole back into my arms, to try to get me to soothe her. My memories are clouded, it was so tense and frightening. At one point I came close to telling one of the nurses to fuck off (shocking behaviour for me to even consider!) Nicole was arched back, screaming, and the nurst kept grabbing her head and trying to get her to latch on my breast and telling me like I was an idiot, ’she’ll calm down if she suckles you know’. Fuck, I still get upset at that. Do you think I wouldn’t have given anything, ANYTHING, to have her latch on and calm down? I was just slightly on edge you could say.
Finally, they thought she was stable and we waited for an ambulance to come and take us to the University Hospital. They have a pediatric ICU there and wanted us to be on site in case she took a turn for the worse. I remember the ride in the ambulance. Nicole was strapped in her car seat on the gurney. I was sitting beside her. Ron had brought the oxygen tanks then left to get our car and meet us at the other hospital.
I’ll never forget the feeling of relief it was to be at the Stollery, with her hooked up to the oxygen and monitors and knowing she was going to be ok. It was there that Ron and I finally relaxed enough to let it all sink in and realize how close she had come.
There followed almost a week of treatments. Being the ‘cow’ I stayed there on a cot beside her crib. Ron and Margaret visited as often as possible. She screamed and cried a lot and her colic really got started in earnest. There followed three months of endless crying, but that’s another story! For now, we were safe and on the mend. It was enough.
One little happy update for mom. Nicole and Grant both played in the hockey tournament at Bruderheim this weekend. The Josephburg Flyers kicked butt! Grant was so proud because he scored a goal.
They don’t keep track of the scores at the initiation level and everyone gets a trophy at the end. Perfect. The kids played well and had a great time.