I got to live my very own episode of Grey’s Anatomy last night.
On Wednesday, Destroy woke up with a snorty nose. Jon and I walked into his room to say good morning and he greeted us with a grin and a sneeze. By Friday, the cold had migrated down to my little man’s chest – and the morning greeting had morphed into a grin and a cough.
By the afternoon, my muppet had begun wheezing. We experienced this once before, at the start of Cold and Flu season. So, for my own comfort of mind, I decided to call the advice nurse to perhaps schedule a quick checkup in the peds clinic the following day.
“Does he have a fever?” No.
“Are his lips or any of his other extremities turning blue or gray?” No.
“Has his appetite diminished?” I looked over at Destroy; he looked up from the six ounce bottle of milk he was guzzling and smiled brightly. No.
“Is he disoriented? Is he having a hard time recognizing you?” The muppet giggled uproariously at this. “Ai!” said Destroy. No.
“Is he lethargic?” As the six ounces was needed due to the non-stop rolling as he canvased the living room throughout the day, no.
“Ok,” the advice nurse seemed pretty unconcerned. “Let me just see if we can find a telephone appointment with a doctor tomorrow, just so you can confirm with him. Now, your child was typically healthy at birth, correct?”
Well, as healthy as a 27-weeker can be, I reassured her. They never needed a ventilator or anything like that…
Suddenly her attitude wasn’t so blase. “He was a preemie?” she asked sternly. Hold on please. I’m going to check with a doctor.
I had said the magic words. NICU grad. Sure enough – less than two minutes later she returned. “We’d like you to come in. How far are you from our Emergency Room?”
This is how I found myself walking into Seattle Grace…er…Kaiser at 8 p.m. with a lone muppet. Thirty minutes later, we reached the front of the line just to check-in. Poor little Destroy was stripped down, weighed (20.6 lbs!) and, much to his chagrin, had his temperature taken – rectally. (He responded to this invasion of privacy by pooping on the medical assistant. But he did it with a smile.)
Then we were sent to the chairs.
We waited. Destroy observed the bleeding, hacking or otherwise diseased malcontents crowding the waiting room. I did my best to huddle ourselves into a sterile corner, sprinkling Purel around us like an invisible fence. I settled in, expecting a long wait. It was a Friday night in the ER. I didn’t think a kid with the sniffles was going to be a top priority case.
By 10 p.m. Destroy was lightly dozing in his carseat, seriously annoyed that I’d pulled the sunshade down over his line of observational sight. But he perked right back up at 11 p.m. when we were finally situated in an exam room. All the while young and beautiful doctors flitted about – gossiping and proclaiming medical terms, with the occasional “Code Blue” broadcast throughout the halls. I could hear the residents conferring with attendings – ordering CBC/chem 20s, chest x-rays and IV fluids STET.
Dr. Alex Karev finally came in to examine my little man. (Ok, I can’t remember his actual name, but he was a young, handsome, pediatric ER doc and his name did start with a K. So Karev fits.) Destroy lit right up, bestowing a million watt smile upon his newest admirer. “He is a cutie!” exclaimed Dr. Karev.
I repeated my story, letting the doctor know that I was not simply a petrified paranoid mommy. Ok, I am. But regardless, I was in his ER because the advice nurse said we needed to be there. Karev placed his stethoscope on Destroy’s chest and Destroy wheezed on command, so the fine doctor attached an oxygen saturation monitor to my muppet’s foot. The monitor (oh, how familiar I am with those blasted monitors) blinked to life before it’s green numbers settled on 100 percent. And remained there. At 100 percent. The. Entire. Time. My little desatter is all grown up!
Obviously pleased with himself, Destroy looked up with his wide eyes and batted his eyelashes as if to sweetly say, “See? I’m fine. May I please have the rest of my bottle?” Karev smiled. “Well, he’s experiencing zero respiratory distress. But I’d like to get him started on a breathing treatment.” He left the room mumbling “he is such a cute kid!” as he exited.
The respiratory therapist arrived as promised, along with two more doctors. Because there was not enough drama in our current segment of the medical drama series, these new doctors were there to inform me that the hospital’s computer system would be going down for the night. As the therapist administered albuterol, one of the other doctors diagnosed Destroy with bronchiolitis.
Bronchiolitis is a common illness of the respiratory tract caused by an infection that affects the tiny airways, called the bronchioles, that lead to the lungs. As these airways become inflamed, they swell and fill with mucus, making breathing difficult. Hence the wheezing. According to the Kids Health website, baby bronchiolitis sufferers may be more likely to develop asthma later in life, but it’s unclear whether the illness causes asthma, or whether asthmatics were simply more prone to developing bronchiolitis as infants. Both of these conditions are items likely stem from the Chronic Lung Disease diagnosis that resulted from their missing three months of gestation.
We were then left to wait some more – to see how Destroy reacted to the treatment. They warned me it might make him agitated. But, just like our previous adventures with albuterol, he just curled up in my arms and grinned as he inhaled the stimulant. As we hung out, I held him, I curled up with on the gurney, I rocked him, I stood and swayed with him, I tucked him into his carseat. He was calm, absolutely exhausted, and completely wide awake. “I can’t go to sleep Mom, these are my people!” Despite my cajoling, the muppet could not be persuaded to miss out on any potential excitement.
Karev arrived about an hour later with a handwritten prescription slip. “Have the pharmacy call me if they can’t figure that out. We don’t really write prescriptions anymore because we have the computer.” Which was down.
At 2 a.m. the two of us finally stumbled out of the hospital. Destroy was still smiling. I thought about asking him to drive me home, but his infant inhaler instructions explicitly stated “Do not drive or drink alcoholic beverages for 8 hours or until you are sure the effects of the drugs have worn off.”