Monday, November 26, 2007

John, Timothy and two hospitals (this is a loooong post)

Thursday Timmy started coughing. Friday, John started coughing, and Timmy started wheezing. So we said no Bible Club for them Friday night. They're too young anyway, but I'm one of the drivers. While we were discussing how we would work the transportation, the Bible Club leaders called and canceled for this week.

Friday night Timmy got worse. He was up in the night crying, coughing, wheezing. Tom moved to the couch to give Timmy bed space with me. I basically got very little sleep since when Timmy was awake he was coughing and very restless. When he was asleep, he was coughing and wheezing. A mother can't sleep when her baby is so sick.

Saturday morning we prepared to take Timmy to emergency. We discussed taking John, too, but decided to wait since he wasn't that bad. On the way to emergency we noticed that the walk-in clinic was open so we decided to stop there first. They ended up sending us to emergency anyway, so off we went.

Saturday noon Timmy was admitted to the hospital with either severe asthma or bronchiolitis. They wanted to say asthma, but since there is no family history of asthma, they settled on bronchiolitis. Either way, it got worse as the day wore on till by midnight Timmy was really gasping for air. They were only giving oxygen with a medicated mist about every 2 to 4 hours, and in between Timmy was mostly awake, struggling to breathe. They finally put him under an oxygen tent, but even that did not help. By 4 a.m. I was so sleep-deprived I couldn't think straight, so they sent me to an empty room to sleep.

While I was sleeping they called the doctor, who ordered oxygen all the time. They put a mask on him, but after I woke up around 7-ish they switched to using an oxygen tube with nasal prongs. The problem was that they only had newborn sized prongs, which were way too small, or adult sized, which were way too big. They put the newborn size on him, but it was not a good fit. He ended up with a mask on top of the prongs, which I thought ridiculous, but they thought he would get more oxygen that way.

Sunday morning, the doctor came, first thing, to see him. He decided to send Timmy to CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario) in Ottawa. CHEO is a fantastic place, much better equipped and staffed than our local hospital, so I was actually relieved to hear this news. (The nurses expected me to be devastated.) I called Tom at home to tell him the news. He was busy getting children out the door to go to church, so he said it wouldn't take long to get there, since they were just about to leave anyway.

Tom dropped some children off at church (friends were coming to pick up the rest--we go everywhere in two vehicles now, and none of the children are licensed yet). He was in the church parking lot when he saw the orange helicopter-ambulance fly overhead. He got to the hospital just in time to greet the EMTs coming in with their stretcher to take Timothy. It took them about half an hour for them to get everything settled. During that time, the nurses and I convinced Tom to let someone else lead services and preach. We really did not have to do much convincing; he was more than ready to go along with the idea.

After they took Timothy away, Tom and I came back to the house to pick up some things, switch vehicles, and send a few urgent e-mails. (As we were driving out of Cornwall, we saw the helicopter in the air headed for CHEO. Tom wished for a camera.) We also had to check on the turkey someone gave us, which was in the oven cooking for Sunday dinner. As we pulled up, Nathanael came out of the garage, wondering why he wasn't taken to church. In the confusion, he had been left behind! Tom told him to stay home, mind the turkey and answer the phone. We didn't have time to take him back to church.

We stopped for gas and to put air in the tires, so I took the time to call Sarah at church to explain what was happening, and to make suggestions for them for the afternoon. Sarah reported that John had started wheezing. Well, what to do now? We were close enough still that we decided to go back to the church to check John, and see how bad he was. We decided that Tom would take me to Ottawa, see us settled in, then come back to take John in to Cornwall emergency. He was wheezing, but not nearly as bad as Timmy. We left his health card with Sarah, with instructions for her and Nathanael to take John to emergency themselves if they thought he needed to go. One of the women in the church was asked to help them make that decision and give them transportation if needed.

Thankfully, they were able to wait for Tom to get back. So while Tom was in Cornwall with John, I prepared to spend my third sleepless night with Timothy at CHEO. As I said, this place is fantastic. Timothy was given nasal prongs that fit, but when he started pulling at them they switched back to the mask. He hated the prongs and loved the mask. He seemed to know that it was helping him breathe, so whenever it slipped out of place he put it right back again.

By the time the night staff came on at 7:30, Timothy was already improving. He even ate some supper, the first meal he'd eaten since Friday night. Although he did much better through the night at CHEO than in Cornwall, neither of us slept much. He clung to me, practically crawling up and over my shoulders in his effort to get away from all these strange people who kept poking needles into him, prodding him with stethoscopes and staring at him through strange face masks. I tried to explain to him that these people were friends who wanted to help him get better, but a 20-month-old baby can't fathom "friends" poking him and taking his blood away.

He was on ventilation with medicated mist for about ten minutes every hour all through the night, with regular oxygen in between. He and I both tried to sleep in between mistings, but there was a problem. He would only sleep in my arms while I rocked him, and I could only sleep on the cot they set up for me.

Meanwhile, John was admitted in Cornwall. Tom got to sleep on a bed in John's room, only waking for mistings every two hours. The nurses kept doing double takes, seeing Tom back again so soon. ("Newton? Didn't we just send you to CHEO?" "No, that was Timothy. This is John.")

Monday morning, Timothy had me stuck. If I went out of his sight, he cried. Too much crying made his lungs tighten up, so I tried not to make him cry. The problem was, I needed sleep desperately. Friends who live in Ottawa had offered to let me sleep at their house, but I couldn't leave the room long enough to use the phone. Finally someone brought Timothy some toys. One of the nurses was able to play with him while I left to call the Tessiers. Luc volunteered to take the day off work to stay with Timmy (he said his boss owed him tons of time) while Sylvia took me home, fed me and put me to bed.

Actually, their 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter put me to bed in her room. I slept for about three hours, then called home to check on John. By that time he had been discharged and Tom had had time to take a short nap. He came up to Ottawa then. Timothy kept improving, keeping himself out of the ICU one doctor had threatened him with.

He has a lot of energy, but is still tied down with a mass of cords, wires and tubes. They had taped his IV needle VERY securely so that he couldn't pull it out, but he still managed to pull the connection apart twice, splattering blood everywhere. He gleefully threw all his toys out of his crib, and Tom put the rails up just before he could throw himself out. Then he stood up and paced his crib, tromping on cords and wires, and setting his monitors to beeping. We sat him down, and he set to work trying to pull the sticky pad lung monitors off his chest.

I helped Tom decide that I was the one who needed sleep the most, even though he wanted to go home and make sure John went through the night okay. We decided that I would stay at the Tessiers for the night, but first I called home to check on everyone. Sarah and Josiah reported that John refused to take one of his meds, and only took the other over strong protest. The meds are given only every twelve hours, so I decided to come home for the night, make sure John took his meds in the morning, and come back to CHEO so that Tom could come home, sleep, and make sure John took his meds.

The Tessiers brought me home since I was too sleep-deprived to drive that far (over an hour one way) in the dark and in the rain that turned to snow and then back to rain again. So here I am at home. It is late, but I could not settle to sleep right away. I've been home for about three hours, heard all the news, told all my news, reassured the children, and put an already asleep John in my bed for the night. Tomorrow after breakfast I will go back to CHEO with our van.

I don't know when they will let Timmy come home. They say he has to stay until he can go without the oxygen mask. Right now he's off it when he's awake, but has to have it in his sleep. They planned to stretch the mistings to every two hours overnight, but they don't want to push it. I would guess that he won't be home before Wednesday. I will find out tomorrow.

Now I think I can sleep. Don't anybody wake me up in the morning. I'll get up when I'm ready to get up.

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