About this time last year, it was cold. Really cold. It's pretty cold right now, but I feel like the high temperatures were only the low 20s. Maybe it's just my faulty memory, but I remember it was colder than usual. My 9 month old son woke up at 3:30am on a Monday morning and coughed once, which sounded a lot like croup, and then started crying. He had never had croup before and neither had my daughter. I did a quick internet search to see what to do, even though I was pretty sure that I was supposed to take him out in the cold air. With it being so cold, I was apprehensive to do this. The article I read also said to consult your doctor. Okay. So I called the pediatrician and asked to have the on call doctor paged. The on-call pedi was quite rude, asking me "didn't you look it up on the internet" and when I began my reply with "I did but I was afraid..." he interrupted me to say that if I was so afraid to treat me son properly there was really nothing he could do to help.
So he was an ass.
Any way, over the next few days the cough did not continue, but my baby did develop a runny nose and a fever and was refusing to eat. His fever was quite high, reaching 103 degrees Fahrenheit, but was treatable with Motrin and acetaminophen. He was uncomfortable and unhappy and I did my best to cuddle him and make him as comfortable as possible. He continued to nurse and that was about all the sustenance he was taking. By Thursday, I took him to the convenient care to make sure there was nothing else going on, such as an ear infection or any other treatable condition. I was assured this was "just a virus" and to continue with the over-the-counter fever reducers and making sure he was getting enough fluids, etc.
That evening his fever hit 104.3. My baby was whining almost constantly. I joked to myself that men were whiny when the were sick from the very beginning of life. I called the doctor's office as it was still business hours. I told the nurse about the high fever, that it wasn't responding to Motrin like I had expected (it only brought it down to 101.something), and that he was whining constantly. My husband was standing next to me holding our son who was whimpering. The nurse asked me to go in a different room so she could hear me better since he was being loud. She said that since the Motrin was bringing the fever down somewhat, it was working. She suggested I give him a cool bath to help with the fever and another dose of acetaminophen. She mentioned that if the fever continues after that, I may need to take him to the emergency room. At this I started crying. I don't know why I'm like this, but when I get really nervous about my babies and their health, I irrationally cry. So she back peddled and told me that as long as he's responsive, he is fine.
The next day, the fever wasn't as bad, but the whining continued off and on. My mom came by and basically forced me to take him back to the convenient care. As soon as we walked to the back where the exam rooms are, the doctor ran to us and told me they were calling an ambulance, and he needed to go to the emergency room because he wasn't able to breath effectively. What I thought was whining was really my son grunting. Talk about crying. They immediately started him on a vaporizer while we waited for the ambulance. We were rushed to the closest hospital, not the one where I worked about 20 minutes away that has a highly rated children's emergency room. Once there, they took me to a separate room where the doctor informed me that they believed he had RSV and pneumonia and that he would need to be put on a ventilator. A few hours later, he was transferred to the hospital where I worked.
|On the ventilator. Our "fighter" had to be restrained.|
What I want other moms to know is about the grunting thing. I did find stuff online about the grunting after the fact. But when I think of grunting, I think of a deeper sound. This was a whimpering, whining noise. And I was never told to be watching for this. I was told to make sure he wasn't having retractions, where you can see his ribs or straining in his neck because he's breathing so hard. But I never saw that, and even the nurses said they didn't see it. You see, my son was a butterball and his extra layer of flub hid all that. His breathing was quick, but no quicker than it had been the day before when we first visited the convenient care. Even so, why didn't the nurse hear that over the phone and tell me to take him right away? Why did she tell me that crazy thing about "as long as he's responding to you, he's fine"? As the PICU nurse said, if I had waited until he wasn't responding, it would have been too late.
Here's a link to a video I took of him just before we went to the convenient care the second time. Looking at it now, I do notice his nostrils flaring.
|After getting of the ventilator.|
So this is the take home. If it's winter and your child is sick, don't worry about taking them to the doctors too many times. I was told that RSV is tricky. It goes from cold symptoms to scary, respiratory distress in no time. The PICU doctor assured me that when we went to the convenient care on Thursday, it was "just a virus" (RSV is a virus) and he wasn't in distress. But it changed very rapidly. I was lectured by the paramedic who transported us from the first hospital to our wonderful hospital that I should have just taken him to the "good ER" the first time. But how did I know? My reluctance to go to the ER was based on the fact that I didn't want to expose my baby to other, possibly worse, infections in the ER. I knew that our convenient care had lower wait times and it would be faster to be able to see a doctor. Hind sight is 20/20. And even if I had taken him to the ER on Thursday night, it probably wouldn't have prevented him from being put on a ventilator. Learn from my mista