Tuesday, November 3, 2015

15 hours in the emergency department

Saturday night we were going trick or treating and Miss L was so excited. She had a very slight runny nose that was clear but wasn't sick. After a busy night she went to bed about 8pm and choked on her milk and vomited it up. Straight away she was back to sleep until 11pm. She woke up upset and crying and came into our bed. Normally when sick L sleeps and sleeps a lot. This night was different as she would get upset walk out of bed and roam the house. She literally didn't sleep all night and was up and down the whole time. Finally around lunch on Sunday she feel asleep. I went to check on her and she was hot and not sounding too good. After half an hour I checked on her again and I didn't like the sound of her breathing. Mr J suffers with croup and it sounded similar. Her chest was clearly tugging and struggling to get air in and she had a wheeze. I called the Dial A Doctor service and they said they would be there shortly. Around 1:30pm they arrived and gave her some steroids. The Dr recommended Ventolin and if no improvement in 20mins to go again. Then if no luck to go to ED. So we did that and both Andrew and I could see there was no improvement at all.

So from there experience kicked in. We packed a bag with spare clothes for L and a water bottle. Some snack foods and my phone charger and off we went. We went to our closest ED as I was worried about the long drive to PMH without being able to see her. We have almost no family support and Andrews parents were away so it meant he stayed home with the 2 big kids and I went alone. When we got there the nurse saw us and took us straight through as a category 2. 1 being the highest I knew it was serious. Straight away I explained what had happened and they thought she must have been sick for days to get to this point and i explained she was fine until late Saturday night. We went through her medical history which of course is complicated and requires explanation. The Dr's gave her the nebuliser first with a mask which of course upset L as it was on her face. Lots of talking and holding teddy and finally she agreed to hold it herself near her mouth but not touching.  We kept this up for a while when they decided they needed a cannula in. Oh so not fun. Miss L is way too experienced with Doctors and pain and as soon as they pulled the strap out they use to tighten on your arm she freaked out! The nurse was lovely and asked me if there was anything they could do to make it easier and i said no just go quickly don't drag it out. The Dr couldn't get it in on the left side so we had to do it again on the right which meant more struggling and being upset. All 3 of us held her down but we got it in.

So for the next few hours they took blood and urine samples and kept up the nebuliser. Andrew came in around 9pm with my dinner. It seems everyone forgets about the parent or carer especially when L was lying on me and I couldn't even move to get a drink. Thankfully a friend came over to look after the big kids so Andrew could come down. I don't think i would have lasted as long without the coffee and food. Plus he bought me a drink bottle so I could keep hydrated. My friend also gave L a book which we read over and over. Around 10:30pm they said the specialist Paediatricians were on their way. They were busy in delivery and labour and ED so they took an hour or so before they arrived. Basically the Dr who had been seeing us didn't know what to do as the medication wasn't working as fast or as well as it should and they were worried her metabolic issues were having an effect. The paeds were lovely as we went over her entire past health story from birth and they decided to contact PMH for advice. I had to sign a letter giving permission for them to fax over some details from her files. In this day and age to still have all that info at only one hospital is ridiculous.

By this time Miss L had finally fallen asleep on me and it was only 5 mins later they came and asked us to go in for a chest x-ray. Waking a very tired girl and asking her to sit still while they did an x-ray was painful and upsetting but the tech was lovely and so apologetic. We got back to the bay and they turned the lights off and left us to rest. L feel asleep on me again but I couldn't move. I managed to carefully shift her and grab my phone so I could sit and read on the Kindle app. We had an hour or so of quiet before the paeds came back to explain she would be transferred to PMH as the metabolic team wanted to check her out. The ambulance arrived at am and off we went. It wasn't until we went out that I realised it had been raining and a storm had been through. It felt almost surreal and I was so tired I nearly fell asleep on the drive, When we got to PMH it was quiet but they didn't yet have a bed for us?! So we waited in ED while they reassessed L and went through her history again. She finally feel asleep around 3:30am and I had something to eat from the food I bought. About an hour later while reading my book I noticed her oxygen stats had gone below 90% then suddenly the dropped below 80 and I leaned over to check her. I put my hand on her  chest and it wasn't moving. I called her name as the alarms started blaring an it was about 70% when the nurse ran over. I shook L's chest and yelled her name when suddenly she took a breathe. The nurse was like what did she do? I said she stopped breathing, not choking just like holding a breathe. It was such a scary moment and being in a tired fog it was such a burst of adrenaline. The nurse then put some cardiac leads on to monitor her and we stayed longer in ED because of this. At this point there was only us and one other child in ED so it as quiet but all lit up so no chance of sleeping even in the one hard chair they had. Around 5:45am they took us up to the ward. I had to retell the story to the new nurse who gave L more antibiotics before letting us sleep. It was 6:30am by this time and still in my clothes I crashed in the tiny little fold out bed until the Doctors woke me up at just after 8am. They said her breathing was slightly easier and she hadn't had the nebuliser since 1am so it was a good sign. Dr Kretzer our paed wasn't on so they got someone who worked on the same team as her to come and asses. HE was curios if she was asthmatic due to her severe reaction. Her chest x-ray showed shadowing in the lungs and fluid had been aspirated. I'm hoping we get a follow up with Dr Kretzer to discuss everything as he just left us with a lot of questions.

We were discharged then and told to come back if she started struggling again and to go straight to PMH. So Monday which was also a pupil free day for my big kids we get home at lunch and time to sleep. Typically it took me hours to fall asleep and then it was time for dinner. L was a bit more settled by now even if her cough was getting louder. Now it's time to sleep and relax and figure out what happened and why.....


  1. Just wanted to suggest possibly your baby sick but maybe a allergic reaction to neb treatments.. My daughter was in and out of hospitals with breathing and pneumonia one year.. It ended up she was allergic to one of the treatments and would lower her sats.. I believe it was atrovent.. it's been a while she was 5 then now 17.. very scary times. hoping for speedy recovery for your little one.

    1. Thanks for that I will definetly mention it to the Dr when we see her next.