Lasker Pool

Lasker Pool
Central Park, summer 2011

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Night in the ER, Part II

When the night-shift pediatric ER doc recognizes you, it's time to take stock of your life. Well, now Doc Eileen, who used to lived in New York City and misses it, but also enjoys a quieter life near the beach now (and I know these things because we've met previously), has met two of my boys in the middle of the night. While we've been on vacation at the shore.
You know, relaxing.
Kyle had been coughing and complaining for a few days. The first is not so usual, the latter an everyday occurrence.
But this was a sort of barky cough, which I've not heard from him before.
I tried to wait it out, treating the cough with a humidifier and lots of water, and giving him kiddie ibuprofen for a mild fever.
Then, two nights ago, while we were watching Food Network (Kyle's favorite these days), Mick and I both noticed that he was breathing rapidly and shallowly. With a sigh, I dialed our pediatrician in New York. We were in New Jersey, far from familiar doctors.
Dr. S. gave me the bad news: "You've got to take him in to the hospital. He's never had a breathing episode before and I'm just not comfortable waiting until tomorrow."
Which is how I found myself and my oldest son, at 10 pm, doing the ER tango.
By 1:00, he was in one of the little ER rooms, getting treated for constricted airways. Four of these treatments and a chest X-ray later, they decided to admit him for the night. "Just to watch him," the attending doc (not Doctor Eileen, who was apparently off eating dinner at the improbable hour of 3 am) said. "He's still breathing too fast."
"Sleeeepy," Kyle moaned. "Must sleep."
I felt a migraine coming on.
Then, Doctor Eileen returned from dinner and we reconnected: "You're the mom with the son who hit his head on the rocks last week! Wow, you brought in another one. Quite a summer you're having."
My head throbbed so that I could barely crack a semblance of a smile.
By 4 am, we were in a room, but not, to both our dismay, sleeping. Instead, the nurses had to repeat the same vitals tests they'd already done downstairs in the ER and chart Kyle--which essentially meant answering the same 20 questions we'd already answered five times that night.
Among these queries were:
"How much did Kyle weigh at birth?"
"Was he full-term?"
"What is your office address?"
Nothing urgent, to say the least.
We slept--if you consider reclining in a lumpy chair listening to your son alternately snore and cough sleeping--from about 4:30 to 7:30 am.
That's when the morning tests began: blood pressure, temperature, etc. And more treatments to open up Kyle's overly-tight airways, poor baby.
Then one of the five or six doctors who paraded through that morning put her hand on Kyle's back and frowned. "I hear some crackling in his lungs," she said.
Umm, pneumonia?
"Could be," she replied. "We have to do some more tests."
One excruciatingly painful blood test later, for which I bribed Kyle $8, and we were back in the room with the looming possibility that my child had somehow contracted a peculiar bacterial infection that causes walking pneumonia. The kind of pneumonia that doesn't respond to typically-used antibiotics.
I'm beginning to bore myself, so I'll wrap up this wretched little tale.
We were discharged at about 4 in the afternoon, with our very own portable nebulizer (which I'm hoping insurance will cover, since it's $265), and a handful of prescriptions--including one for a lesser-used antibiotic that should kill off the mycoplasma bacteria, in case my boy should be harboring it. We wouldn't know until the following day, but unlike most doctors, those at the K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital are perfectly willing to administer antibiotics without clear evidence of bacterial infection.
We dutifully visited a local pediatrician the next day, who called the hospital and told us that Kyle did indeed have pneumonia and added a prescription for Pulmicort (a steroid) to help further relieve the barky cough.
It's been quite a vacation.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Sis. Yes, I can believe it- takes me to the old days of having young kids. How is that nephew of mine doing? And, Pneumonia (???) So sorry. A friend of mine said that once you have kids, there are no vacations except going to work and the occasional shower with the bathroom door locked.

    I told my two about the conversation with Jesse about Nana. They were amazed that he thought he was supposed to feel bad forever and hoped our conversation helped him let himself off the hook. Josh, in particular, asked if Jesse was doing better.

    Love from the other coast,