Monday, February 17, 2014

Sick in Oklahoma

February 3-17th

This post literally starts right after the last post because I wrote that post while Mary was taking her morning nap.  After Mary woke up from her nap, I noticed she was having a hard time breathing.  This was what my pediatrician and friends had told me to look for-that pulling in for breath in their neck and abdomen.  With 4 kids all having made it through RSV seasons, I was lucky that none of them had ever had breathing complications but here was the dreaded retraction.  I was surprisingly not that worried and I waited for several hours to call the dr. just to see if it would get any better.  Mary had started coughing a couple of days before but wasn't complaining and still sleeping just fine.  As a mom, I've learned that for my kids, if they're playing and sleeping well, they're fine and Mary was having plenty of fun.
 I finally called the Dr. when Dusty got home for his lunch break and was on hold for 16 minutes before talking to a real person.  This was our first interaction with healthcare on post.  Because of the storm the previous day (the one were church was cancelled and the news broadcasts asked everyone to cancel their superbowl parties so people wouldn't have to drive- the one with a whopping 6-10 inches of snow), most of the Doctors were "unable" to come to work; so the pediatric center on post didn't have any appointments available and they weren't making appointments for the following day either because the weather forecasted more snow that night.  Since Mary's breathing hadn't gotten any better, I was starting to worry and having to wait for 16 minutes made me just a little annoyed. The receptionist told me she would have a Dr call me within the next 2 hours.
The head nurse called me back about 45 minutes later and after I described Mary's symptoms, she told me to go straight to the emergency room.  Wait... What? The Emergency Room?  Why? Is retracting that serious?  I'm sitting on the phone with the nurse watching Mary laugh and play with the other kids thinking, "there is no way I'm dragging my 4 children to the emergency room to wait for who knows how long to get a breathing treatment and a listen from a stethoscope!"  So I calmly ask the nurse how serious this is and describe how Mary is playing and happy.  The nurse agrees that I can wait for a few hours until Dusty gets home to stay with the other kids as long as Mary doesn't get any worse but I for sure needed to go today.
Well, Murphy's law and she started to get worse.  Again, I knew she wasn't in danger of unconsciousness or anything but I also knew that if she didn't get seen, she could get a lot worse, really fast.
So here I am, in Oklahoma where I've met.... maybe 10 people and known those 10 people for maybe a couple of weeks and I have to go to the Emergency room.  And School is cancelled so I not only need someone to watch Nathan but Brian and Samantha too! Not cool.  Luckily, one of the men who was in ROTC at BYU-I with Dusty was here for BOLC with his wife.  It took a few minutes to get Karey's phone number but I got it and I figured- at least I have known her for longer that 2 weeks and she is Samantha's primary teacher at church.  She was available and although she would have to drive over here, she's lived in Idaho so she wasn't too worried.  Thank goodness for tender mercies!!!
Karey arrived about 3pm and Mary was checked into the ER by 3:15.  One of the really, really, really nice things about the military and on-post living (other than the fact that active duty means health care is 100% paid for!) is that your ID card is your all-access to everything.  Our ER check-in went like this- I give the attendant my ID card, she asked for the last 4 of my sponsor's social. She asks for Mary's name and date of birth.  She asks what Mary's symptoms are.  Done.  No insurance card copying, no hippa/privacy policy/patient rights signing.  Of course there are signs indicating that all that stuff is available but I didn't have to write down my address or phone number or anything.  That was fantastic.
Now for the waiting.  So what do you do in an ER waiting room with a 14 month old running toddler who doesn't think she's sick?  Watch CNN?  Yeah, right!  I tried entertaining her with stuff from the diaper bag but she didn't want to eat or drink so mostly I alternated between following her around the waiting area and holding her while I walked around the waiting room (because she would start coughing after running for a while).  The triage (or check-in nurse) gave her some ibuprofen after taking a rectal (yeah, that was fun) temperature of 102.something.  Then we waited for 2 more hours before I finally asked reception how much longer we would have to wait.  About 5:45, we were called back and then the real fun began.
It's kind of a blur now, but Mary was poked and prodded and violated to the point where she started crying as soon as someone parted the curtain to enter our "room".  If nothing else, her screaming confirmed what I knew at home, this was definitely not a life-threatening emergency for her.  The ER doctor listened to her lungs.  Her oxygen levels hovered about 92, her temperature (again rectal) was still 101.9 after Ibuprofen 2 hours ago.  They did a breathing treatment, which helped her oxygen levels go back up to about 95 for a little while.  Then, they took a chest x-ray.  Torture!!! Basically, I had to sit Mary on a bicycle seat and hold her arms straight up while the technician moved plastic molds around her abdomen to hold her in place for the x-ray.  Then I had to continue to hold her arms straight up during the x-ray.  This was the worst medical procedure I've ever had to witness.  I was holding up pretty good up until this point but I almost started crying.  I kept thinking, it can't be this serious!  Then back to our "room" and the poking started.  It took the nurses 7 different pokes in 7 different locations on Mary's body to get enough blood for the tests they needed to do.  I don't know how it works anywhere else as this was my first experience with any Emergency Room with a child so maybe this is procedure but I was pretty horrified by how rough they were with Mary while trying to draw her blood.  They lay down a sheet and literally wrap her up like a burrito with only one arm out.  One nurse holds her arm while the other nurse attempts to insert the needle and do the draw while I have to hold the rest of her down.  I'll just say this, I have one incredibly strong daughter!  And even with oxygen saturation at below 90%, that girl can scream!  No wonder the nurses thought she had broken her collar bone when she was born!  They finally got enough blood for the RSV, influenza and other tests they needed to do- one of those was a nose swab I think.  Well all the tests came back negative and the ER Dr. started talking about admitting her to the hospital because of her high white blood cell count, high fever, and low oxygen levels (anything under 94% is grounds for admittance and Mary's were hovering at 92%).   They decided to give her a shot of antibiotics because of the high blood count.  The nurse who came in to give her the shot said they had to do one in each leg and it was going to "piss her off" since they usually combine this type of antibiotic with lidocain since it hurts so bad but Mary was too young to get the lidocain.  And guess who gets to hold her down again?  At least they brought her a Popsicle after that!
Well I had had enough and I was more than positive that Mary had had enough too!  I calmly (well I hope I sounded calm) told the Dr. that I felt perfectly safe taking Mary home for the rest of the night.  Yes, she probably needed to continue breathing treatments but i didn't quite care that they hadn't determined the reason for the high fever.  So we were finally released with the stipulation that we would come back to the pediatric center tomorrow for a re-check.  I was given an inhaler with spacer instead of nebulizer. Also, they sent me home with Ibuprofen and Tylenol.
I finally arrived home just after 11pm with a very wide awake and wired Mary.  Regardless of the Dr's instructions that milk would make her congestion worse, I warmed some milk anyway and finally got her settled about 1230.  Dusty had arrived home about 6 and Karey had made spaghetti for dinner, bless her heart!
Luckily, the kids had school the next day so I just had Nathan when we went to the Dr.  We saw Dr. Laughy and she was a huge improvement from the rough ER drs and nurses!  Dr. Laughy confirmed all the negative test results from the night before and determined (really guessed because no one really knows for sure) that what Mary actually had was called a microplasma.  As I understand it, it is a bacterial infection that acts like a virus and has a very sudden onset.  Who knows why it made it so hard for her to breath?  Mary's oxygen levels were still hovering about 92% and the Dr started talking about hospital admittance.  This whole time I'm praying my heart out that we won't have to go to the hospital!  How in the world would I do 2 kids in school, a toddler at home and a baby in the hospital with no family or friends around?!?!  So, they gave her another breathing treatment in the office, to which she responded really well.  This was a miracle because after all the poking and prodding last night, Mary was basically hysterical from the second the Dr. tried to listen to her lungs with the stethoscope.  (she didn't even go under her shirt!)  So you can imagine how not close I was able to get the nebulizer mask to Mary's face.  Another tender mercy!  We were sent home with another Rx for antibiotics, a Rx for a nebulizer and albuteral.
Now, let me tell you about the army pharmacy.  I still have mixed feelings about this.  When you get to the pharmacy, you get a ticket which tells you your place in line.  Then you sit and wait until your number is called.  Then you go up to the specified window, give your ID card and sponsor social again along with the name and date of the patient, wait a couple of minutes at the window and you have your Rx.  Again, I'm not sure if waiting for 10-20 minutes and then getting Rx all at once is better than dropping of your Rx and then coming back in 10-20 minutes.
Then we had to go pick up the kids from school (late) and head off-post to find a medical supply place to pick up the nebulizer.  They had one that was shaped like a seal!  Another tender mercy!  This made giving breathing treatments so much nicer as Mary would pet the seal. Finally, we picked up pizza because I just didn't even know if I had anything in the cupboard to make for dinner and we still beat Dusty home.
The next day (wed) was an early release day for the kids so I got to take all 4 children back to the dr for another oxygen check.  Mary's levels were back to 98%!!!!  yay!!!
Thursday was another snow day for the kids and then Friday we were back at the Dr. with Nathan who had croup.
We holed up for the weekend missing church again and pretty much not even setting foot outside.  But Mary and Nathan were both doing much better.
Monday brought runny noses and coughs for Samantha and Brian but I sent them to school anyway.  However, the dirty looks from their teachers and comments about them being sent to the nurse to have their temperatures taken, convinced me to kept them home Tuesday.  Back to the Dr. Wednesday with Brian (who wouldn't stop coughing) and a stop at the pharmacy for Robitussin (I think I would have preferred to just get it at the store and pay for it so I wouldn't have had to wait with 3 kids!) and then finally the kids were all back to school and got to celebrate Valentine's day!  We got a late start and Samantha got tired so she only wrote her name on about 5 valentines and I did the rest.  I was grateful that she brought home valentines that were also addressed by moms.
Saturday, Dusty and I headed to the Sprint store to switch our service and get free Iphones!!! (the 5c) Then we took the kids to the museum on post. Sunday we finally made it to church where we had to introduce ourselves again because we've been gone so much and today is another holiday so we're headed to the park.  What a couple of weeks it has been!  Here are some pictures from the outside portion of the museum.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow in Oklahoma

I can't believe it's February already!

We had our first Oklahoma snow storm yesterday (Sunday).  We received 6-10 inches in 24 hours.  Church was cancelled and then we got a call that evening that school was cancelled that night for the following day.  It was pretty weird for us to have that much advance notice!  Dusty said the roads were pretty icy but nothing we haven't seen in Idaho.  teehehehehe

Saturday we drove the 3 1/2 hours to Dallas and did some sightseeing.  We enjoyed a non-profit aquarium located at the state fairgrounds.  This aquarium rescues animals that would otherwise die in the wild.  They had 2 sea turtles with deformed feet/fins and an albino alligator.  We also got to pet sting rays!  The kids really enjoyed that part.  They're Slimy!

Since we're not really into football, we spend yesterday evening watching a show on National Geographic called Brain Games.  It was quite interesting to learn more about how our brains work and trick us to see or say certain things.  One of my favorite games they played was a riddle.  Mary's mom had four children:  April, May, June, and ..... (you're supposed to guess the 4th child's name).  They also did a lot of games about color and our vision.

Samantha was the star student in her class last week and enjoyed being in the spotlight.  Brian introduced me to his girlfriend on Friday and informed me that on recess he acted as her dragon.

Nathan's finding ways to occupy himself in our apartment.  He loves coloring but if I let him use the markers, he ends up getting more on himself than the paper.  Mary has started a cough that will hopefully go away without a visit to the Dr. We're all looking forward to Valentine's Day!