I glanced in my review mirror to see a very dusky Gabi with her eyes halfway closed. She had had a cough for a couple of days and her oxygen levels were at 71% this morning when we put the pulsox on her. Her heart rate was at 140 pbm and that raised my heart rate as I quickly packed for a trip to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.
“WHAT THE HELL!?!”
This is how I am starting my new year!? An overly exciting trip to Children’s Memorial Hospital? Gabi had grown so big and become such a great part of our family the thought of something happening to her had me crying as I sprinted down the familiar route of Palatine Rd. towards I-294. Part of me was sad from fear and part from selfishness. I was sick of this crap.
I got on I-294 and pegged it at 90mph, I figured if I got pulled over I had a pretty decent reason for the hustle.
We got to the ER and there was a child with a feeding bag & looking worse than Gabi. They checked in first and a couple of minutes later we were admitted. Gabi wasn’t happy about all the poking and prodding and put up a measly 61% O2 with a very elevated heart rate. That was enough to get a passel of nurses and doctors in the room. Getting great service in the hospital is really a double edged sword. A quick albuterol treatment and some O2 and she was back to usable numbers and they started to talk about putting an IV in.
“Can you please call somebody from anesthesiology to do the stick?”
The nurse assured me that they were very good at putting IVs in and that she didn’t know if anybody from anesthesiology would be available. I insisted that they try. Getting a line in a kid with half a heart is notoriously difficult, and my heart only wanted her to go through that once. They did find somebody to do it, and 15 minutes later we were on our way back to the familiar ICU on the 4th floor.
We settled in and they took a chest x-ray and the parade of doctors started. Everything looked clear in her lungs and they suspected some sort of virus so she was swabbed (q-tip thing jammed up her nose nearly to her brain) for RSV and Influenza. The act of swabbing meant that she now had to be in isolation and anybody coming into her room needed a gown, gloves and mask. Blargh.
Gabi settled in for a night of fever, elevated heart rate and wildly fluctuating O2 levels. She was a real trooper though, and pulled her oxygen mask aside to cough and then put it back on. She slept most of the next day too, waking briefly to watch some Dora and point at things. She was super cute with the nurses and doctors, and even held her arm out and pulled up her sleeve for blood pressure tests. This was tragically adorable to watch.
She slowly improved and started some more breathing treatments nutrition through her G-Tube. Her personality came back and she started acting like the goofball that she normally is. I was ready to head out the door Wednesday morning, but her O2 kept dumping and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving yet. I settled in and we spent some time playing in the hospital room. Respiratory had brought some bubbles to use with her. Blowing bubbles was good exercise for her lungs, and she loves to do that.
The afternoon sun coming though the windows lit up the swirling rainbows on the surface of the bubbles. Gabi and I took turns blowing bubbles all over the room, and she laughed as she yelled “POP!” as each bubble expired. I realized that this trip was the most one-on-one time I had ever spent with her, and we had become good buddies through this adventure. There was a young boy in the room next to us that had a neck brace on and went for dialysis every other day. He didn’t have anybody there to visit him since his single mom had to work 3rd shift. Suddenly my quiet time with my young daughter was an incredible luxury, and it seemed great way to start the new year.