Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A first for Melkamu that we never really wanted


On Sunday morning, Melkamu woke up around 2:30 a.m. needing a change. Jason changed him and was sitting with him to help him fall asleep again. I went in because Jason hadn't gotten much sleep yet and I figured that I would let him go back to bed. I realized that Melkamu was wheezing a bit and sounded congested, and thought that I'd take him downstairs to sit upright for a while.

The wheezing and congestion got worse pretty quickly and by 2:50 a.m., I'd put in a call to our pediatrician's office, which places calls through the CHOA nurses line. They called back at about 3:10--if they'd taken another 5 minutes, I would have already been getting into the car. The nurse asked a bunch of questions, listened to Melkamu breathing over the phone, and asked us to bring him in to the ER. I got dressed and brought him to CHOA-Egleston (Jason stayed home with Patrick). I also realized that there's not really a good ER anywhere closer than that, which is a little scary.

We were taken back within 20 minutes and they gave him a breathing treatment soon thereafter. His breathing got quite a bit better but not entirely, so then there were some oral steroids. And then another breathing treatment. And then a chest X-ray.

He was still wheezing a bit and wasn't maintaining his oxygen levels above 90% by this point, so they decided to get him on oxygen and admit him. Let me tell you, trying to get a nasal cannula onto a 16 month old and keep it on him is challenging at the best, impossible at the worst! But it brought his oxygen levels right up, thankfully.

We were into a room at around 8 a.m. He stayed on the oxygen and got breathing treatments when he started wheezing, about every 2-3 hours at first, then every 3-4 hours. He was off oxygen and getting treatments every 4 hours by evening; they would have let us go home that night but for our insurance company. They decided that they wouldn't pay for a home nebulizer until Monday. If we left the hospital Sunday, we would have to go home without it and the doctors there weren't comfortable with us doing that.

The insurance company's decision to pay for an extra night in the hospital rather than paying for the nebulizer that day (even though they paid for it yesterday) makes no sense to me. None. But as it turns out, he got a bit worse again that night and we were doing treatments every 2-3 hours and back on oxygen again for the first half of the night.

By late morning, he was off oxygen and maintaining his levels, only getting treatments every 4 hours again, and they said he sounded great and we could go. It was 6 p.m. before I left the hospital, with both Melkamu and Patrick in tow--along with a nebulizer, spacer, our bags, and several prescriptions (don't ask how I made it out to the car). What took so long, I have no idea, but we were very glad to finally get home. I have no idea what Patrick was doing in the backseat as we drove but it had Melkamu just giggling away--such a sweet sound after a couple of scary days!

We're doing nebulizer treatments every 4 hours right now, and he's still on oral steroids. They're not calling it asthma just yet, as it was only the one episode. For now it's just reactive airway disorder with associated hypoxia. If it keeps happening, it'll be re-classified asthma.

He has absolutely no history of any breathing difficulties, and the doctors at the hospital did annoy me a bit about that. I said that we have a pretty complete medical history on him (as much as could possibly be expected) and there's nothing in there about any breathing trouble, nor has he had any trouble in the month that we've had him home. I kept getting the impression that they thought that we'd been lied to about his history. I'm sure we weren't--I have asthma and it's certainly not something that would have kept us from adopting a child--but the way they kept phrasing things gave me the impression that they didn't believe it.

I've attached a couple of pictures of Melkamu (ha, no more pictures of clothing on top of my blog*!) from this weekend.

This is him on Saturday afternoon. Clearly a child with huge trouble breathing, huh?

Although the hospital was definitely traumatic for him, he kept a smile on his face as long as no nurses, doctors, or respiratory therapists were in the room...

...unless he was annoyed with me for interrupting Cheerio-eating time with the camera.
*Sorry it's been so long since I last posted! I'm maintaining a "people before things" attitude, and the blog is a "thing". Since many of the other "things" that I have (from before Melkamu came home) used to get done while Patrick was in school, like grading and writing lectures, they now have to get done after the kids are in bed. And unfortunately, blogging has to come after the job that provides our clearly-important health insurance.


Jess said...

I'm sorry about the scare!! It's stupid that the insurance wouldn't pay for the nebulizer....are you renting one?

You can get small ones online that are good for home use (if you are renting) and they you'd have one for keeps, if you think you'll need it again.

Breathing treatments are no fun. I hope you don't have to do them much longer!!


Heather & Adam said...

OH poor Mel! Insurance companies are the worst! I hope he gets better soon. It is so good to see pictures of him! He looks very happy, and I hope the treatments will be done soon!

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping it was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. With the allergens around Atlanta these days, it's a wonder we all aren't that way. He sure is a cutie!


jane said...

i'm SO happy for y'all... patrick looks so grown up and melkamu is sooo precious! i am glad that he is breathing better now... hope it doesn't happen again!
-jane boutwell(your bradley student-- i found your blog through christy mobley's)

Princess Leia, Han Solo, C3PO, R2D2, and Wicket said...

I'm so sorry that you had a hospital visit. No fun. I hope he continues to get better!

Virginia said...

Oh my goodness Erin, what a rough few days you all had! Have you caught up on sleep yet? I am glad Melkamu seems to be getting better, hopefully it was an isolated incident... He does look like a happy little squirt!