Monday, December 19, 2005

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Raisin has pneumonia. We spent about 5 terrifying hours in urgent care and the emergency room on Saturday, watching her struggle for each breath. I haven't been this scared since the very first time she ever got sick.

Now that we're two days into treatment, she is doing much better. I may even unclench enough to send her back to daycare tomorrow. (She probably could've gone today, but my mom offered to stay home with her, and I couldn't refuse.)

I, however, am struggling with several layers of guilt that I cannot shake. Empirically, logically, rationally, I know that I did not cause my daughter's lungs to fill with fluid. But that didn't stop me from scrubbing the house top-to-bottom yesterday, or doing laundry every second that Raisin was sleeping or busy. If I'd been a better housekeeper, she wouldn't have gotten sick in the first place, you see. In this same vein, now would be an excellent time to ask me for favors or donations to your favorite charity. Who says Lutherans don't believe in doing penance?

On Saturday morning, I knew she was sick. She had a relatively low fever, she was coughing. She even threw up a few times. Her breathing was more rapid than normal. I did consider taking her to the clinic. DH and I mentioned it several times throughout the day. But we looked up every symptom she had, and none of them seemed to merit a trip to the doctor.

"They'll just tell us she has a virus," I kept saying. "It's better to keep her at home and keep her comfortable."

As the day wore on, she got worse. Her breathing was more rapid, more shallow. She couldn't be comforted by any of her favorite things. DH convinced me that a trip to the clinic was warranted. Oh, God, what if I hadn't listened to him then!?

I completely went to pieces when the PA at the clinic checked her oxygen level and found it to be about 10% lower than it should be. I started to cry (didn't really stop for several hours afterward), and the PA had no idea what to do with me. Or with Raisin, apparently.* She sent us to the ER at Children's, which I now realize was the best thing she could've done.

There, we discovered that Raisin's O2 level was actually fine (whew!). They just didn't have equipment small enough for her fingers at the clinic. A chest x-ray confirmed pneumonia, while a dose of Prednisone relieved some of the irritation in her chest.

Then we settled in for the long haul. The doctors wanted to see how much improvement could be gained after several treatments with an Albuterol nebulizer. Easier said than done, since Raisin would rather have eaten live frogs than have the neb mask on her face. Even though I knew it was helping, restraining my daughter while she cried feebly and looked reproachfully into my eyes was the worst thing I've ever done.

Nevertheless, by the end of the third treatment, the doctor felt she had improved enough to go home. We're now the proud owners of our own nebulizer machine, which ought to be totally fun at parties. Raisin's even gotten used to the sensation; she doesn't fight quite as vigorously any more.

We are all recovering. Raisin is almost back to her usual self, while DH and I struggle to find some grace, forgiveness, and peace for ourselves. We are supremely grateful to the doctors and nurses at the children's hospital. They made our nightmare bearable, and they put my daughter on the road to recovery. My family will be safe and whole for Christmas, and I cannot think of a better gift than that.

*I am sure she was completely competent; she did a nebulizer treatment at the clinic, so she obviously knew what she was dealing with. But her "bedside manner" was nonexistent, and she did not answer any of our questions. There is more to the successful practice of medicine than the medicine itself. Hasn't she ever seen Patch Adams?

1 comment:

Rude Cactus said...

I sincerely hope Raisin feels better! That's no way to spend the holidays (or any day for that matter).