Sunday, August 16, 2009

The "A" Word

You know how nearly everybody has a medical "thing"? Some people have bad backs or digestive issues. Others have clogged tear ducts (like Evan) or bad teeth (like me). Well, I think we've found Liam's "thing", other than his speech delay, that is.

Our little guy woke himself up coughing on Thursday night and we knew it was going to be a long night. The liquid Benadryl we gave him before we went to bed lasted all of three hours and I spent much of the night being kicked and smacked by an exhausted little boy who just couldn't sleep due to the coughing spells that had him near convulsions.

On Friday morning, the evil coughing was joined by wheezing and vomiting. You know you love your child when you're willing to not only be covered in their vomit, but reach out to catch it with your hands. Poor Liam could barely breathe and could not hold anything down. I resisted the temptation to give him anything, despite his saying, "Spite, Nonny. Pease?" (In speech-delayed two year old speak that translates to "Sprite, Mommy. Please?")

I managed to get him an appointment with the pediatrician's office, even though the receptionist was quick to inform me that our pediatrician was out and her replacement was booked for the day. I emphasized that Liam was having trouble breathing and was becoming dehydrated since he couldn't drink anything. The lovely (can you sense the sarcasm here?) woman reluctantly gave us an appointment with another pediatrician.

We braved the usual waiting room chaos and when our pager buzzed, we made our way to the "other" pediatrician's exam room where we waited and waited. He finally stuck his head in the door and said hello just to disappear minutes later. Our regular doctor's nurse moved us into one of her exam rooms where we waited some more. (I think the "other" pediatrician didn't want to deal with us since we weren't his patients and went to lunch. Jerk.)

The doctor finally came in and listened to Liam's chest. She immediately ordered a round of liquid steroids and a breathing treatment. The nurse, who was a blonde nineteen year old named Britney (need I say more?) gave Liam the steroid and set up The Machine. She poured some liquid into it, put a mask over the now freaking out Liam's face and told me to hold it there until the machine ran out of liquid. She didn't tell me how long that would take. She didn't tell me exactly how to hold the mask on a strong two year old's face. And she didn't tell me how loud The Machine would be in that tiny 10 X 10 exam room. She flipped the switch on, left the room and all hell broke loose.

Liam began to thrash around and fight the mask that was forcing the medication into his sick lungs. I struggled to hold both of his hands in one of mine while I used the other one to hold the mask over his nose and mouth. He cried and screamed and flailed around like I was trying to kill him. He ripped the paper on the examining table with his shoes and tore at the mask and the numerous hoses every chance he got. And let's not forget that the noise of The Machine scared the you-know-what out of Evan who was all of two feet away strapped in the stroller. He began to cry, too. Sydney turned on the waterworks as well. It was the longest ten minutes of my life.

I finally turned The Machine off myself having had enough of the mayhem. The nurse came back in and put a sensor on Liam's finger to check the oxygen level in his blood. She ran the test several times, scurried out of the room and brought back the doctor who listened to Liam's chest again. She frowned and ordered another breathing treatment. This time, I gave Sydney and Evan their juice and put Sydney in charge of doling out the animal crackers I'd thankfully packed in the bag at the last minute. I also held Liam's arms behind his back before starting the machine. He still fought it, but I kept that mask on his face for a full 15 minutes while the medicine flowed through it. He called out, "Want Daddy" and "All done" over and over and even managed to turn off The Machine with his foot, but I was determined to keep The Machine running and that mask on his face.

Britney must have gone to lunch, because another nurse came in to check Liam's oxygen level. She, too, scurried out and brought back the doctor who again listened to his lungs. She said the results weren't stellar, but they were better than before. She sent us on our way with prescriptions for a steroid, an antibiotic and an inhaler.

From start to finish, we were at the doctor's office from 11 am until 2 pm. The upside? Everyone except our doctor was gone to lunch for much of the time so they did not have to witness all the screaming and flailing. We dropped the scripts off at the pharmacy on the way home, I put both boys down for their naps and Sydney and I ate our lunches at 2:30.

The doctor never mentioned the "A" word, asthma, but she did hint that if this happened again (it's happened once before), we would need to look into two "maintenance" drugs, both of which I know are prescribed for asthma.

For now, we've got him on the prescribed medications and while he's doing better, his occasional coughing fits still shake his little body. He's eating better and is getting spoiled with all of the juice, "Spite" and Gatorade he can drink. He also doesn't seem to mind the inhaler which is a blessing after Friday's ordeal.

I just hope this doesn't happen again. If it does, I'm going to make Ryan go with us to hold him down for the breathing treatments. I don't think I ever want to go through that again.

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