ER

26 03 2007

Last night was another sleepless night. Annabelle was having a tough time sleeping when I was finally able to put her to bed, so I figured we’d be in for another rough night from the get-go.  Asleep around 9 pm, Annabelle was very tired and curled into her normal position: knees tucked to her chest, as she slept on her stomach with her stuffed puppy in her left arm for comfort. She is always cute when she sleeps like this. Eliana went to bed about the same time.

I hit the sack only a few minutes after them (as I usually wake up at 5am to exercise nowadays). It was an especially busy weekend for us with Eliana’s birthday party, as well as another day of running errands. Around midnight, I heard the familiar sound of Annabelle’s crying. Her mom was already up trying to get some work done, and was trying to calm her down. Annabelle was particularly cranky this evening, and then we noticed that she was wheezing. I would rub her back for a little relief, but that was temporary. It seemed that she had some extra stuff in her lung because she could not get rid of the wheezing. She was also having a tough time breathing. I was still more than half alseep when all this was taking place, when I had to remind Annabelle’s mom that there is a 24 hour hotline that we can call for a nurse who can help us find some relief for Annabelle.

The nurse was paged, and the phone rang but 5 minutes later. After being as descriptive as possible at 12:30am, we were informed that we should take Annabelle into the Emergency Room.  I somehow found the energy to wake up and get enough clothes on to take her in myself, with only a couple hours sleep.

Having heard about and encountering hospital emergency rooms myself, I was not looking forward to the typical 5 hour wait times to be seen by an ER doctor. I decided also to head to the ER with a pediatric doctor: Desert Banner.  I was amazed upon arrival, the girl at the front desk quickly started asking questions and began entering my information into the computer. The inital physican could hardly get a question in, she was so fast. I was pleased so far. After another few minutes, when all info was gathered, and some diagnostic questions were answered, I was sent to the child waiting area. I was ready to wait at least an hour before even talking to a doctor. I sat down and quickly noticed the doctor who asked the questions pass by and enter the pediatic unit. Only 60 seconds later did someone return to grant us entry. I was shocked, a little embarrassed that we were able to get priority over some of the other cases in the ER. I don’t think the other cases involved a baby girl with breathing problems though.

Annabelle was still asleep through more questions and remained asleep until we had to get her weight.  This second round of questions were more thurough; but being the computer nerd I am, I was also half paying attention to their computer setup and the application they use to enter patient data. She was so tired that she even slept through a rectal temperature reading (she’s going to not like me telling everyone this when she gets older). After another 20 minutes of diagnostic questioning and data entry, we were finally shown to our little area of the ER. The time was now 1:30am.

Normally when you go to an urgent care situation, the one main indicator the medical staff focuses on is your pulse. Since Annabelle wasn’t having heart problems and didn’t have any major trauma, it didn’t make sense to focus on that as the main indicator. Instead, I found them using a measure of oxygen stauration in the blood: SpO2. I quickly learned that readings above 92 were considered good. 100 percent was the goal. When we arrived, Annabelle was in the low 90s, and dipped down to as low as 85. She was visibly distressed when this number was below 90, and she was struggling to breathe at 85. It was heart-breaking. I thought that no baby should have to struggle just to breathe; and it made it all the worse that mine was having so much trouble.

The next 6 hours consisted of as much sleeping as possible, with interruptions every 45 minutes or so.  The first couple of inturruptions came to get some vital stats: BP, Temperature, etc.  The second time people came by, they brought a bunch of clear tubes. They hooked them up to the oxygen line behind the bed and turned on the air. The contents of the staging container started to ionize, and out came a mist resembling that of a humidifier turned on full blast. Annabelle was asleep, and her SpO2 was at 91. After 10 minutes of this treatment, her oxygen saturation reading was 98. It got to 100 for a bit, and stayed above 97 for a while. Being the sleepy dad, I tried to sleep on the little upright chairs they had, and was successful in getting a few minutes of sleep until they came again. This time the doctor examined her and confirmed that she had some wheezing in her chest even after the breathing treatment. He ordered up an IV with some antibiotic medication.

The IV was painful for Annabelle.  Annabelle was sound asleep when two nice nurses came in to insert the IV. One was mostly there to hold her down. Without being too overbearing, the second nurse held firmly on Annabelle’s left arm while the other nurse made a fist with her hand, and also held that tightly. At the same time they inserted the IV, they were to draw blood.  After all the procedures I’ve witnessed first hand, I know for a fact I was not cut out to be a doctor, but I have also been able to keep my balance in check as certain things happen. I was still uneasy about seeing Annabelle go though all the pain of having a little tube inserted into the back of her hand. It was funny, however, to see her with a splint and lots of tape so that it would stay there undisturbed. It was now about 3:30am.

A little while later, heard some rumbling, and this big machine was painted with a dinosaur facade. It’s name was SAMI. It was a portable X-ray machine. Annabelle needed her chest examined to exactly determine her diagnosis. She was asleep for this as well. She even slept though our moving her on her side. And as quickly as SAMI rolled in, it quietly rolled away with the answer to our question: what’s wrong with Annabelle.

By this time, I was getting a sore neck sitting in the chair (not to mention a sore behind). I decided it would be better if I grabbed some bed space with Annabelle to prevent my own bodily injuries. It was while we were both lying in bed, me grabbing her to help keep her warm covered in thin hospital blankets that I felt a bond between both of us. This was an experience both of us shared together with only each other. We both had our view of the events, and it was a hard experience for both of us.

After another hour, it was time for another breathing treatment. It was now about 5:30 am; my normal breakfast time. Needless to say, I was hungry. I think Annabelle was hungry as well because she was crying. I think she was also getting tired of the ER, and she was really getting annoyed at the IV. She was to the point of knawing off the tourniquet with her teeth. Her efforts were futile. After her second breathing treatment, we tried to catch some more sleep, but by now, we were both getting a little cranky, still tired, and hungry. It was another hour before the doctor came back with a diagnosis: Pneumonia.

We were handed a prescription, a compressor that will help dispense her medication, and some paperwork. It was 7:30am by the time we left the ER. The sun was shining. It was also warmer outside than in the ER. Leaving the ER was a relief for both of us. Annabelle was quite pleased as I carried her in the car seat. She was feeling better after some medicine and breathing treatment, and it showed. She laughing on the way out to the car. She was doing other cute things and saying cute words, but I can’t even remember what they were because I was so tired.

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