Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Our first night at CHOA

If you live in Atlanta you know that CHOA isn't some fancy getaway. It stands for Children's Health Care of Atlanta. We had a sick baby on our hands and had to head over there on Monday night. Here are how things transpired:

The babies all spent the night out on Saturday night because Billy and I went to a wedding. We were all excited about getting out, but in the few nights before the wedding, the kids had been fussy at night, and therefore, our sleep had been pretty limited. As the wedding got closer, we kept planning to leave earlier and earlier. At first, it was by midnight, then by 11, and finally we decided to get out by 10. If we would have kept talking about it, we might have skipped it entirely!

Back to the babies...when we heard back from our Saturday sitters (Mems, Alice, and Papa), we got some good and some bad reports. Mems had Abby, and she had done fine. Alice had Marie, and she had woken up several times at night unable to catch her breath. She was very congested, and since she's a thumb sucker, she has major problems if she can't breathe through her nose. Alice said she got so scared at one point that she almost called "9-freaking-1-1" (as she put it). She ended up putting saline in her nose and suctioning out the boogers throughout the night. She slept with Marie on her chest so that she could make sure she was breathing. The next morning, Marie barfed her guts out, and it had a ton of mucus in it. Yummy.

Papa also reported heavy congestion with Will. He also barfed. He had to sleep in a little baby papasan chair all night to keep the congestion out of his head. He was super pitiful because he kept trying to give little smiles, even though he felt terrible.

On Monday, their condition kept worsening, but Abby just seemed tired all day. She slept most of the time and ate very little. We thought she might just be starting to come down with something. We talked to the doctor, and they told us to bring in the sickest ones so we took off with Will and Marie.

Will and Marie were diagnosed with bronchiolitis. This is a respiratory illness that makes the bronchioles (tiny airways leading to the lungs) swell up. The inflammation and mucus make it hard for the babies to breathe. We were told to continue to suction out their noses well, give them plenty of fluids, and we had to start breathing treatments using a nebulizer. The nebulizer basically shots off a mist of medicine they have to inhale to help open up their airways. Needless to say, they despise this treatment.

The doctor told us that if any of them are panting, get listless, and/or run fevers, they need to get to the e.r. immediately. When we got back home from the doctor, Abby was even more pitiful. She couldn't even cry; she just kept moaning. I started crying just looking at her. I called the doctor's office, and they said to try a nebulizer treatment with her, and if she didn't perk up, we should go to the e.r. The treatment didn’t work so off we were. My dad stayed behind with the other two and his reinforcements: Maureen and Alice.

CHOA was very efficient, and we saw lots of other kids there with much more major problems. One child had a huge gash on his face that was bleeding profusely. Another little kid had a broken leg. There were all kinds of problems, and to top it off, most of the patients and parents there were Spanish speakers, and they only had 1 translator. I almost had to jump in one time to help out.

The admin guy who took our insurance info pulled up his screen with who was being admitted, and Billy was looking over his shoulder. There was a 14-year-old gunshot victim, and a girl with a "foreign object" in her lady business. Yowsa!

Anyway, Abby had to have her nose suctioned out, and it was very sad to witness. Now we have to do the same thing with all 3 daily. If you’ve ever seen the neti pot on Oprah, you’ll understand the nasal irrigation procedures. We have to shoot saline up into their right nostril until it shoots out their left nostril. Then, we suction out the left side. After that, we have to repeat with the saline in the left nostril until it shoots out the right. It really helps clear them out, but it doesn’t make them happy. It's like they are choking every time we do it. Between this and the nebulizer, we have very unhappy babies most days. They already resent us.

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