Thursday, January 12, 2012
When Nora was around 6-7 months old, she had a bad cold with some wheezing and was diagnosed with "probable RSV." Aside from some loud breathing and a hacking cough, it never seemed to be much of a big deal. But little did we know at the time what havoc that stupid RSV would wreak on us for months and months to come.
As you might be able to tell by now, it's been a rough week, what with starting out with another ear infection and all.
What started out as a runny nose and a sporadic cough with her ear infection on Monday has slowly and surely turned into a full-blown, nasty cold with constant runny nose, a really painful-sounding cough, and... some loud wheezing.
I had thoughts that Nora might be developing bronchitis or something, but figured that the antibiotic she's on for her ear infection would also wipe out anything else that could actually be treated. Still, I called the doctor's office this afternoon to talk to a nurse, just to be safe. She put me on hold to grab Nora's chart, and as soon as she came back, she said that given Nora's history with RSV/bronchiolitis, they wanted to see her.
We got the last appointment of the day--4:30--so you can imagine that by that hour, the doctor was running behind. Very behind. So we waited a good half hour before we were even seen by a doctor--which was a med student first, then the actual pediatrician. Because the pediatrician was teaching the med student, she started making observations aloud as soon as she entered the room. Nora was in nothing but her diaper, so she was able to conclude right away--without even listening--that Nora was wheezing and working harder than normal to breathe. She noted that she could see retractions in her belly and ribs, which--as you might suspect--are not a good thing.
Michael and I went from feeling like we'd probably walk out of there with nothing but a "she has a bad cold" diagnosis to being talked to about how, if it gets any worse, Nora is probably going to end up in the hospital. The doctor didn't seem to think it will actually come to that, but she was worried enough to make us try an albuterol breathing treatment right there in the office. I had done this once before with Nora after her initial diagnosis of RSV in the spring, and it sucked, but nothing could have prepared me for the alligator wrestling that this involved today.
Nora hated it. Just hated it. Have you ever tried to hold a mask up to a 16-month-old's face while air is blasting out of it? We had to pin her arms down, legs down, and squeeze her against me to just TRY to get this thing up near her face. We tried to read to her, we sang songs, but she screamed bloody murder the entire time. She actually bit the mask repeatedly. And, if you haven't had the pleasure of doing this, please note that the treatments last TEN MINUTES, which might as well have been ten years for how slowly time passed in those moments.
Unfortunately, when all was said and done, it didn't even seem to help--which means that Nora's bronchiolitis (which is swelling of the lung's passageways, by the way) is most likely caused by a virus, not underlying asthma. That's actually great news, so don't think I'm complaining about that.
Even so, we walked out of there with three prescriptions--for an albuterol inhaler + a spacer (child-size mask) for breathing treatments + steroids. All to help try to open up the tiny passageways in her lungs. The sad part is that, because she doesn't appear to have asthmatic tendencies, these things probably won't help at all--but given the severity of her wheezing, the doctor wanted us to utilize every available tool that could even possibly work.
We were given strict instructions to call the doctor's office every day for the next five days to provide an update. In the end, we were at the doctor's office for more than an hour and a half. Wow.
The good news is that our little wheezer still seems to be in pretty great spirits. She was thrilled with the Blue's Clues sticker she got to play with on the entire ride home from the pediatrician's office. She's been tired (sleep isn't very restful when you're coughing all night) and glassy-eyed, but she's smiling and laughing and running like usual. Due to the every-four-hours breathing treatments, she still gets to stay home with us tomorrow, but at least we don't have a depressed little sicky on our hands.
I, on the other hand, am traumatized and counting down the days until spring.