Saturday, December 10, 2016

Andrew has bronchiolitis

On Tuesday I experienced a first: I got to ride in the back of an ambulance.

Andrew has had a cold since last Thursday, which eventually progressed into his lungs. He is only 15 months old, and since we've had him he has fought three colds: one last fall, two this fall so far. Each time we have had to go to the pediatrician to receive prescription medication or breathing treatments for him to clear his lungs of whatever gunk he has.

His second Dr's appointment was on Nov. 18 and coincided with a well child check up. The pediatrician administered a breathing treatment in the office and checked back with us later that day to see how he was doing. He seemed to recover well from it and that was it.

Until last week, when he started getting sick again. This time it started with running nose but no fever. Over the following few days it stayed about the same until Tuesday. That morning I took him and Stella to the Curiosity Museum where he played normally. Then all of a sudden, as I had him in my arms he just threw up all over himself, me and the floor. (there was a lot of it) It was horrible! I couldn't pry Stella from what she was playing with, all of the other parents were just staring at me while I struggle with her and him at the same time. The stench in the room was nasty. I ran to the front desk, and asked for assistance. I am grateful for layers. I was able to remove my long sleeve blouse and just wear the t-shirt underneath. I cleaned Andrew up and left the building.

By that time it was noon so I strapped him into his car seat and drove the kids home. Andrew fell asleep in the car and I moved him into his bed where he slept for a good 90 minutes.

When he woke up though, he looked weak and still tired. What worried me most was his breathing. It was shallow and fast with a whistle sound every time he exhaled. He was taking over 60 breaths a minute.

I called the pediatrician to see if I could be seen and they scheduled me for a visit in 30 minutes with another provider. Andrew's doctor wasn't in the office that day.

We were seen almost immediately. After taking his history and vitals the physician decided to try doing a breathing treatment. His oxygen levels were in the mid-80's. Normal range is 95-100%.

Andrew absolutely hates wearing the face mask during treatment, yet he was so weak that he didn't fight me when I placed it in front of his face for 20 minutes each treatment.

The first breathing treatment seemed to help but only slightly. After a second treatment, Andrew was back to the same stats as when we began. The pediatrician was worried enough that he arranged for an ambulance to take us to Primary Children's hospital for care.

Two paramedics came up with a stretcher and a car seat. They strapped Andrew into it and covered him with a blanket. They hooked him up to an oxygen machine and continued with the albuterol treatments.

Stella, who came with me became a little worried at all of this and asked me if Andrew was going to be OK. After receiving my reassurance, she came along to the ambulance with  me.

She ended up riding on the front of the ambulance while I sat in the back with Andrew and the paramedic taking care of him.

Andrew seemed more alert and kept looking around. I am sure the oxygen he was receiving helped with that. Anytime the mask would slip off, his stats would drop again into the 80's.

Upon arriving at Primary Children's (PCH) we were wheeled directly into an ER room and swarmed by doctors, nurses and staff. They bombarded me with questions about Andrew's condition, history, and personal information.

After getting an idea of what was happening they decided to do ANOTHER breathing treatment. We were up to 5 by that point. This one 45 minutes long. By this point, Andrew had more energy and was tired of them. It was really a struggle to immobilize him so he would take them. Finally, a PA came over and helped me with it until Andrew fell asleep in my arms for the majority of the treatment. 

They also administered some steroids so his lungs would be less inflamed. They didn't know what was causing the problem so they also proceeded to do a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia.

In the meantime, all of the albuterol made Andrew sick and he vomited again all over himself, me and his bed. I called the nurse's station for assistance and they came in a few minutes later to help wipe everything down. 

When I left the pediatrician's office by ambulance, I had to leave my car behind. So Todd and his mom had to figure out how to retrieve the car, pick up the kids from school and get to the hospital. It was a lot of juggling around but he finally arrived close to 6pm.

By that point Andrew was DONE. He was tired of all of the cables attached to him and kept pulling them off.  He was no longer interested in the toys the nurse had brought in. He was hungry but not allowed to eat. He just wanted to get down from the bed and walk around.  Stella was done too. She didn't want to watch any more movies or color, she just wanted to go home.  
The nurse alerted us that his condition was slightly better but not satisfactorily improved and that she was going to recommend the doctor he stay the night. We kept waiting for a final decision so one of us could go home. 

An hour later the physician said Andrew would be admitted into the rapid treatment unit for overnight observation.  So I left Andrew with Todd for the evening and drove home with Stella so I could do the nightly routine and help them get ready in the morning. 

The night was no fun for the two boys at the hospital. There was a nurse in every 60 minutes checking Andrew's vitals. He was finally able to drink and every wet diaper had to be weighed.

I drove back to the hospital at 9:30 am and waited with them for the pediatrician to discharge us. It was only then that we were given an official diagnosis. Andrew has bronchiolitis and an ear infection.

Definition: Bronchiolitis is a common illness of the respiratory tract. It's caused by an infection that affects the tiny airways, called the bronchioles, that lead to the lungs. As these airways become inflamed, they swell and fill with mucus, which can make breathing difficult.

Bronchiolitis is usually caused by a viral infection, so antibiotics and other regular treatments are ineffective.

After being discharged it took another 24 hours to see some additional improvements with Andrew's breathing.  Today, he is finally breathing a lot better.