Last week, August 8th, was Blizzard Day at DQ to help raise funds for your local Children’s Hospital. Now I know going out for ice cream in August certainly seems like a chore, and sometimes, for most people, it’s just happy circumstance that satisfying your craving for a delicious treat has the bonus side effect of giving back to your community, whether you frequent the hospital or not!
For us, we actually had the date marked down on our calendar because V has shamelessly taken advantage of their services several times this year and whatever we can do to give back we will…even if it means eating copious amounts of ice cream to raise the funds…oh the things we do for our children right??
I realized that while I’d shared our terrifying ‘febrile seizure’ story I have been lax in updating the other health story of the year. V’s week-long stay for croup! Now as a parent I had always heard people speaking of this mythical ‘croup’ illness and I always did the smile and nod thing since I had no idea what they were talking about…well never again! I will probably hear the sounds of the croup cough and wheeze in my head for many years and my adrenaline will likely spike to unhealthy levels each time V gets a cold because let me tell you, croup is not for the faint of heart!
One night, nearing the end of March, Andrew picked me up from work and let me know that he thought V had gotten a little too crazy in the bath and maybe swallowed some water since he’d picked up a bit of a cough before bed. No big deal right? We can handle a cold like a champ! The shocker came when we went to check out little man before turning in and found him struggling to pull in a full breath in his sleep. We grabbed that kid out of his crib so fast and Andrew had the car around to pick us up before V had even realized what was going on. Our first thought was that he was having an asthma attack and we figured we’d head to the ER, have a treatment and see our family dr the next day. We figured if having a seizure had us home in under 3 hours then a little wheeze wouldn’t take much longer. Pfft….
The second we stepped into the ER the nurse had us in for our preliminary evaluation in Triage, into a bed and seen by the doctor all within 15 mins, and if you’ve ever been to an ER in Ontario you know that is practically unheard of. The doctor looked over V quickly and confidently before giving us the diagnosis of croup. He told us that we’d give V a steroid treatment, watch him for about an hour and then go from there. Usually the first and second nights are the worst but the steroid usually takes the edge off and kids are good to go. V took the steroid like a champ and then proceeded to cough it up all over the bed…awesome…so round two it was! The dr however didn’t see enough initial improvement and called respiratory therapy to come down and visit. Awesome! Things were starting to look a bit more serious but again Andrew and I were just going with the flow. The RT came down and decided it was about time to give V an ‘Epi’ treatment. Basically epinephrine given in a mist held right by his nose. V was having none of this ‘smoke’ held into his face so this was bit more difficult but we got it done. Of course this type of treatment carries a few more risks related to the elevated heart rate it causes so we were in for at least 8 hours of observation…*sigh* They wouldn’t even think of letting V go home until they could see him breathing in his sleep and were content that the ‘strider’ (wheeze) was gone. Of course after you give a 2-year-old a dose of steroid and another inhaled treatment to get him going they are pretty much on board for any ‘all-nighter’ you might have planned and we didn’t get him to sleep until after 8am.
The doctor then sent us home and let us know if he got worse to come back but to try taking him outside to the cool air first. Gotta love those old tricks! We dragged our butts home, slept for about an hour and then spent the rest of the chilly March day with our windows and screen doors open. V seemed back to his normal self and we were read to put it all behind us by Monday night when he fell asleep with no trouble.
Tuesday morning however we were back to the ER when V woke up struggling to pull in a full breath again. Honestly as a parent watching your child struggle to breathe is one of the scariest and most powerless moments of your life. A and I had already done this while he was in the NICU and having to revisit it was no walk in the park. We arrive at the ER just before the shift switch and actually were lucky enough to be seen by the same staff we’d had on Sunday night. They didn’t even start with the steroid first this time but called RT to come back down for the special ‘smoke’ treatment. We knew this meant we were going to be there for the day at least and made ourselves comfortable. However when V required a second inhaled treatment an hour after the first and a third two hours after that, we were told that we should make arrangement to be admitted, likely until the end of the following day. The only benefit to being admitted with croup was that it is CRAZY contagious to other kids so we were given a swanky private room with a pullout couch, free cable TV and internet, bathroom and plenty of space for one crazy active 2-year-old hyped up on all sorts of adrenaline producing drugs.
One test the doctors needed to perform was going to be a scope to view V’s airway and lungs. The concern they had was that when he was a preemie and on a ventilator that he had developed scar tissue and this was causing the airways to narrow more than they usually would with croup. Luckily that came back totally normal but V battled this croup infection for a week before we were finally discharged the following Saturday. We had to stay until he could go a full day without the inhaled treatments and we had a great team help us get there. V was being followed by the RT team, PICU team, Floor drs and nurses, as well as the ENT team! Popular little guy during rounds let me tell you! The treatment, however, that finally helped turn the corner, was a full 24 hr dosage schedule on the oral steroids. Usually it’s given once a day but V received 6 doses in a 24 hour period. They worked like a charm but until you’ve seen a 2-year-old experiencing ‘Roid Rage you have no idea what you’re in for! V had the most epic meltdowns I’ve ever seen from any child ever and for absolutely no reason. He would literally flail about on his bed screaming “I MAD!!” at the top of his lungs until he wore himself out enough to sleep. It was awesome….especially since it took about an additional week to clear itself out of his system.
The most heart-wrenching moment for me during his hospital stay was when they decided they wanted to hook him up to an IV to make sure he was getting enough fluids. To insert the IV into a two-year old they have to bundle them (aka swaddle) in a blanket and have a second nurse hold the child down to prevent them from yanking away. V took it like a champ, no screaming, but he just looked at me with big crocodile tears streaming from his eyes, and asked me “Mommy, what I do bad?”. I lost it. The consequence of being big enough to be aware enough of what was happening to his body and not being big enough to understand the why made him think we were punishing him instead of helping him. It just broke my heart and I just sat and snuggled with him as much as possible to let him know that no-one was mad at him. Poor baby boy!
V was also the most spoiled kid on the face of the planet that week! Various friends and family stopped by to visit or send gifts. He was in seventh heaven and we were just in awe of the amazing support system we had in place helping us through a hard time. I also have to give mad props to Andrew’s work who went above and BEYOND to make sure he could be at the hospital with his child as much as he needed. His boss even took time out of his day to bring us coffee and a gift bag for V including his very own personalized Jays baseball cap! As I said…SPOILED!
Since we’ve gotten over this one incident V has had croup a second time. We managed to make it through without another hospital stay but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about croup season coming up again in the fall. Once a child has it once apparently they are more prone to having it again and I’m not sure my heart can take it! Placing my order for V’s protective plastic bubble this week!