Paul Moore: It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room.
Jane Craig: No. It's awful.
I've been thinking about this, my favorite quote from the movie Broadcast News, a lot over the past few days. Not that I believe I'm anywhere close to being the smartest person in the rooms I frequent. But I've been right about a key issue a lot recently, and how that is working out feels awful.
Saturday played out like a water-down version of three weeks ago Sunday, when Little A's original cold went from something normal to something scary. It's all less insanely frightening than before, but still no fun. First DH and I had differing opinions on how to proceed with Little A's developing illness. He was concerned but more of the "let's wait and see, it's work out ok by itself" school, while I was of the "my mommy instinct is tingling madly, something is WRONG and we must attend to it NOW" school. We exchanged words about our differences in a not-very-nice way this time, much the way we did before Little A's hospitalization last time. We sort of made up afterwards, but the stress of what was said remains. And then after a few phone calls back and forth with the pediatrician, I ended up bringing Little A to the ER by myself while DH stayed home with Big A.
This time she was in respiratory distress (as opposed to respiratory failure last time) when we arrived at the ER. The staff tried several one-hour albuterol treatments and did a chest Xray before deciding to admit her. They informed us that this time instead of staying at Children's hospital, she was being transferred to another hospital across the city. They said the transfer to the other unit (I'll call it Hilltop Hospital) was because Little A wasn't sick enough to rate a room at Children's Hospital, which is reserved for the most severe illnesses. To which I said, "Yay?" Then Little A and I took our second ambulance ride of the month together.
Hilltop hospital is the shabby, country cousin of Children's Hospital. The nurses we met at Children's were all stellar whereas Hilltop nurses seem to be more of a mixed bag. The facilities are far less posh. Some of the policies seem arbitrary and very family unfriendly, whereas everything at Children's was progressively geared toward making a child's hospital stay as easy on the child and family as possible.
But, the one thing Hilltop has that Children's doesn't is private rooms. Thank God we have one. We have a quiet space all to ourselves this time, rather than a curtained ward room shared by six patients.
And the view? Pretty darn nice. (Though I can think of better ways of seeing it than from a hospital):
That's Oakland in the foreground, with both (stylistically incongruent) sections of the Bay Bridge in view. Those with eagle eyes can also spy the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
And here's a shot of the view at sunset, with San Francisco's skyline showing off its pretty silhouette:
We now live in limbo. Because while Little A is definitely not as sick as before, she is still nonetheless not in good enough condition to come home. At first we hoped she'd be discharged Sunday morning, but at 5 a.m. Sunday she needed to be put on supplemental oxygen, which killed our chances of discharge that day. They removed the oxygen supplement a few hours later and she went until 2 a.m. Monday without it, but then desaturated and needed oxygen once more. Today they took her off the oxygen at seven a.m., but she was back on it by seven p.m.
To me, the pattern isn't one of getting better or even of holding ground. It worries me. Each day they put her on the oxygen earlier than the day before, and she stays on it longer. At the same time, the doctors and nurses seem to be focusing on the fact that her admitting Xrays this weekend looked better than her discharge Xrays did earlier in the month. They also point out that so far, they are not putting her on ever-higher levels of oxygen, either. 0.50 liters per minute is fine to keep her saturation in the nineties while she sleeps deeply. When awake she can maintain a safe oxygen level without supplementing, which is something it took many days to accomplish during the first hospital stay.
Part of me focuses on those good things too and feels relieved. But another part of me is so frustrated, because any need for oxygen prevents us from bringing Little A home. From a practical standpoint, the amount of oxygen doesn't really matter, the end result -- more hospital time -- is the same regardless.
I feel like I'm failing at everything. Failing Little A by not working harder to prevent her from getting sick again when she was ill so recently, failing at my job because so much of this month has been spent taking care of ill children. Failing Big A by obliterating her much-needed life routines when one of her parents is always at the hospital rather than at home.
I also suspect DH feels I'm failing him. I think he's like Paul More in Broadcast News, believing that like Jane Craig, I revel in making the right calls about going to the hospital with Little A. He just seems to take whatever I say about the girls' health as a braying I-told-you-so on the subject now. But the reality? I just feel scared and bewildered about all of this. There is no comfort in being right when it means your child wins a hospital stay.
And is it wrong for me to so acutely notice that DH has never even acknowledged that I was right to insist on going to the hospital in both these recent situations? How do I keep ending up the bad person in all our disagreements about Little A's health and treatments?
Like I said -- awful.