At this moment I should be in a mountain cabin, drinking wine and resting after a day of playing in the snow with the kids. Alas, Little A came down with a cold that got progressively worse all week long. By Wednesday it was bad enough for DH to call the pediatrician's office and get blown off by the on-call physician, who felt we should just give her some Tylenol and wait it out. By Thursday morning Little A refused to play or eat and whimpered every time DH or I put her down. I called the pediatrician's office again and apparently sounded agitated/paranoid enough to score an appointment this time.
Little A was lethargic when I got her in the car to go to the pediatrician's office, but she sounded raspy and terrible by the time we arrived. As I undressed her for the exam, I noticed her arms and feet were the color of raw steak. We couldn't get a pulse ox reading due to equipment issues at first and abandoned that task in favor of giving her an albuterol treatment with the nebulizer right away.
My kids have both had occasional wheezing episodes with certain illnesses that required albuterol. Little children hate having a nebulizer mask over their face, but to me albuterol is an old friend. After just ten minutes a child who sounds like an rattly old air conditioner suddenly sounds clear. Magic nebulizer machine, magic drug!
Except not this time. After a full treatment, Little A still wheezed badly. The nurse set up another albuterol vial. Little A was so sick she wasn't even fighting the mask. The machine hissed, and my heart palpitated. Everyone was very professional in the office, but I caught the look between the nurse and the doctor, and I knew that if she didn't improve from this second treatment, Little A was probably going to the hospital right after this.
Thankfully as the second vial finished, Little A sounded better and had more normal skin color. Her pulse ox reading after two treatments alternated between 92 and 93. Not great (normal range is 96-100) but not in the holy-shit-dangerous range, either. Lord knows how low it was before the two treatments, but I suspect that had we got that first reading, she might be in the hospital right now based solely on that.
As it was, they monitored Little A at the pediatrician's office for another forty minutes and then sent us home with orders to give albuterol every two hours for the rest of the day. Little A is now also on oral prednisone and another inhaled steroid. If she wheezed again on all the new drugs, we were told to take her directly to the hospital. DH and I are exhausted from getting up in the middle of night to administer drugs on the proper schedule. But by this morning at the pediatrician's office, her oxygen saturation level was up to 96, which is a good sign that she is on the mend.
Unfortunately, a 96 percent oxygen saturation level isn't quite high enough for her doctor (or us) to feel comfortable going up to the very thin mountain air of our rental cabin several hundred miles from home. So today we stayed home instead of traveling. Poor Big A doesn't grasp how sick her sister was, and so was incredibly upset that she didn't get to see the snow as previously promised. We're hoping that we might get up to the cabin sometime tomorrow, if Little A improves further overnight. That would still give us a couple days in the snow. But either way, I'm just really thankful that if she had to get so sick, it could happen at the doctor's office, and not in a cabin (or car) in the middle of nowhere.
So if all goes well, I'll be in the snow tomorrow, not to return to the Bay Area until the holiday is over.
Happy New Year, everyone. Here's hoping that good things lie in store for all in 2008.