Just breathe.

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.


E @ Oh! Apostrophe January 12, 2012 at 9:48 PM  

Poor sweet Nora! Hang in there momma... I hope she feels better soon.

Andrea January 12, 2012 at 9:54 PM  

We did breathing treatments last winter for something similar but not as severe as what you guys seem to be dealing with. Anyway, we didn't see results right away but it did make a difference after a few days. Hope the treatments go better when you are at home...maybe watching a movie or playing on the ipad would help? good luck!

Elyse January 12, 2012 at 10:20 PM  

Ah the joys of the freaking nebulizer! We, too, dealt with this, and it took us about 2 days of trial and error before we figured out something that worked. For one, it's loud, so we put a pillow over the machine so it wasn't quite as loud and scary sounding. We also "counted to turn on" like blasting off which made it less of a shocking scare and had the TV going for the whole treatment to distract. We also tried Ipod earbuds in the ears with a favorite song or show playing. Maybe try any of those? It went from a screaming fight to a much easier process for us!

nikinikinine January 12, 2012 at 11:06 PM  

I know nothing about RSV, but this sounds horrible :( I'm so sorry! I hope Nora feels better soon!

Anonymous,  January 12, 2012 at 11:45 PM  

Hope Nora gets well soon..

Rachael Farris January 13, 2012 at 2:48 AM  

Oh no! Poor little Nora! I hope she feels better soon!

This actually kinda scares me because right around Christmas time Natalie had a cold with wheezing and a stuffy nose, and since we had already been to the doctor for her last cold and it seemed like this was similar, we didn't take her. Now I'm wondering if it HAD been RSV. EEK!

Sending you sunshine,

Rachael @ You Me and Natalie

Vanessa January 13, 2012 at 4:49 AM  

Oh no, poor baby Nora and poor you. How stressful. I really hope that after a weekend of TLC and mommy snuggle time Nora will be on the road to recovery. :(

Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife January 13, 2012 at 11:42 AM  

Poor Nora and poor mom and dad!

I hope she recovers quickly. It sounds like it isn't slowing her down too much though so that's a good sign.

Heather G,  January 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM  

I hope she gets better soon. You and Michael hang in there!

Phase Three of Life January 13, 2012 at 6:49 PM  

Ugh, that poor thing really has had a rough go of it lately. :( If it helps, I'm sort of a pro with the nebulizer treatments (Ryan has asthma). One thing that has worked for me is to take the mask off the end of the tube and just hold it up to his face while he's playing. He'll sometimes ignore it and sometimes will try to eat it (which is fine with me, cuz a byproduct of him sucking on it is that he's breathing in the meds). Our ped told us once that if he's screaming or crying, you might as well stop the treatment because it won't work anyway. They take shallow breaths when they're upset like that, so less of the medication will go in their system.

Another mom blogger I read whose son has asthma and does daily neb treatments will let him watch cartoons during the treatment. It's the only time he gets to watch cartoons, so that works for him.

Also, I'm sure you've heard this, but just in case - cold air helps when the wheezing gets to scary levels. If you get really concerned, step outside (if you live in a cold climate) or stand in front of the open freezer. We've done this when things have gotten particularly bad and it seems to help a bit when you're desperate.

Good luck. I really hope you guys catch a break soon.

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