Saturday, February 14, 2009

Breathing

I went and bought a new digital camera earlier this week, and snapped these pictures of Frances sitting on my lap--this was a few hours after the breathing treatments started working, and she was just up from a nap:

 This past Thursday night was very hard. Frances came home from daycare with a slight wheeze. We had noticed it happening before--but it always went away within a few minutes. Frances has been teething with a vengeance, so her nose was running constantly and she was congested...so we dismissed the wheezing as a product of the congestion from teething.
As the night progressed, things got bad. Things got scary. Frances began struggling to breathe. None of us slept much all night---we kept her in bed between us, and she woke up frequently. Her breaths were loud and raspy. On Friday morning, I called the doctor's office the minute they opened, and they were able to see us at 9. By that time, Frances was exhausted, and every muscle in her body was struggling to breathe. It was scary for me--my mother died of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis--which she had assumed was a resurgence of her childhood asthma, and for years, treated it with over the counter inhalers. She died just three months after being diagnosed, when she'd had the disease for four years. Seeing Frances' lungs acting up like that put me in a place I didn't want to be. 
The doctor said Frances was in the "red" zone in terms of struggling for breath--which means she couldn't walk or talk or do anything other than focus on breathing and coughing. Right in the office, they gave her a breathing treatment with a nebulizer, and a dose of an oral sterroid. They sent us home with a nebulizer and mask, and prescriptions for a fast-acting inhaled sterroid, a slow-acting inhaled sterroid, an oral sterroid, and a nasty, expensive, hard-to-find antibiotic. What they think happened is that the ear infection Frances had/has was not fixed by the amoxicillin, and that it caused a secondary infection in her lungs, which caused "Reactive Pulmonary Disease." At this stage of the game, they are not diagnosing her with asthma, though she is on some heavy asthma meds. We give her nebulizer treatments every 4-6 hours, in addition to inhaled and oral sterroids and the antibiotic. And her breathing is better. Her sleeping is much better, and today, her appetite came back. We were in Costco getting diapers and formula, and Suzanne took a pierogi sample and Frances seemed very interested in it, and ate it quite willingly. She did the same with some sort of Chicken Ravioli. Frances wasn't at all interested in the chocolate cake, but she has been eating much better, and is acting like her old self. 
The nebulizer treatments aren't easy. Frances freaks out. She doesn't understand why she has to wear the mask and inhale the vapors and why her mother and I have to hold her down. She screams bloody murder, and kicks and struggles and has fits. By the end of the treatments, she is exhausted and sweaty. She is strong as an ox. But we do it because they are helping her breathing. 
Seeing the nebulizer was very upsetting for me. The mask and the tubing looked to me like the apparatus of death--My mother and I didn't get along all that well, and while I had heard from different people that she was very ill, all she would admit to me was that she was having a bit of trouble breathing, and that she occaisonally had to use oxygen. When she died, quite suddenly from my perspective, Suzanne and I arrived in her apartment and found it full of breathing apparatus, including that same clear tubing. The thought of using that sort of equipment on Frances, who is so small and young--it was traumatic. My mind started going in places it didn't need to. Its a fortunate thing that Suzanne has, for the last ten years, worked for the Pediatric Pulmonary Specialists at the Children's Hospital, so she has a better perspective and has easy access to the best Pediatric Pulmonologists on this side of the state, because she works for them. Its an odd thing, but it never occured to us to actually call any of the doctors Suzanne works for during that night--we still thought it had to be related to teething, and that once Frances went to sleep, it would go away. We know better now.  
Frances does not necessarily have asthma--right now, they are writing this off as a nasty middle ear infection that didn't respond fully to amoxicillin (I pointed out that the fever went away within 24 hours of starting the amoxicillin, but apparently that doesn't mean anything...and Frances was pulling at her ears, but again, that can be attributed to teething, which she is actively doing) and then caused a secondary infection of the lungs. In a month, they will reevaluate, and it is very possible we will be able to take that dratted nebulizer machine and donate it to some charity. 
While the whole experience has been a bit overwhelming, I am tremendously grateful that Frances is responding well to the treatments. 

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that. Frances is on our prayer list. May God bless.

Nina said...

OMG, how terrifying!! Poor Frances! I'm so glad everything turned out okay.

Hugs,
Nina

Ellen said...

How scary! I am glad she is responding so positively to the treatments. Hopefully soon you can rid your house of the breathing equipment.

G's Momma said...

OMG, I'm so sorry you all had to experience this. I cannot even imagine how scary that must have been. There's nothing worse than having a sick child. I'm glad she's feeling better.
susan

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

There are few things more terrifying and that make one feel utterly helpless than when your child is in distress for some unknown (to you) reason. Glad that she's better.

Christina Lopez said...

Wow-unfortunately I didn't read all of this until today. I am so sorry for all you guys went through. That must have been terrifying! Is she better now? Still getting treatments?