Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year -- and Reality Check

How many of you spent the holidays hacking, honking, sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, feverish, nauseated or dashing to the bathroom? Or taking care of kids doing any of the above?

I spent part of the holidays in Atlanta with my oldest sons, Mike and Dan, Dan’s wife Kristin and my two littlest grandsons. Mike and Dan met me at the airport shortly after midnight. On the ride home, Dan said that J.D., his 2-year-old, had been diagnosed with croup earlier in the day. He was hoping that the baby, who's four months old, wouldn’t get it. The baby was cutting two bottom teeth but otherwise happy.

Then, the next day, the baby started wheezing. Kristin, a physician’s assistant said, “It’s just a little wheeze.”

“But it doesn’t belong there,” I said.

“He’s teething; babies get congested when they're teething,” she replied. I had to agree, but something about the wheeze seemed eerily familiar to me--it reminded me of when my daughter, Brooke, was a baby, before she was diagnosed with asthma. But Trey was happy, alert and cooing. All seemed fine.

By nightfall, however, Trey took a turn for the worst. The next morning, Dan took the baby to the pediatrician. Diagnosis: Broncholitis or RSV. Either way, Trey was producing more mucus than his little body could get rid of. He had his first breathing treatment and was sent home with a Xopenex metered-dose inhaler and a valved holding chamber with a little duck mask on it.

For the next two days, we gave Trey his medication on schedule but he grew worse. We were never quite sure if the baby was inhaling the medication. Three puffs every four hours should have done the trick, but we could see no improvement.

The next morning, Kristin had to drop J.D. off at day care and go to work, so Dan and I took Trey back to the pediatrician. This time we saw Dr. Furr. She listened to his chest and explained that while people love to debate the merits of holding chambers vs. nebulizers, there were times when a nebulizer was the best route because the medicine is wet and you know the baby is getting the medication. She gave the baby a breathing treatment at the office--and sure enough, he fired out a huge mucus plug splat onto the floor. His cheeks regained color and he smiled.

Dr. Furr explained that RSV is viral bronchiolitis, but that not all bronchiolitis is caused by RSV. Whatever the cause, she expected Trey to be really sick for a few weeks. She asked about the family history of asthma – Dan and I both have it, as do his sister and youngest brother, Joe. Dan and I don’t have allergies but Brooke and Joe do. She said to wait and see what develops, but that it would be no surprise to her if the baby develops asthma. If that's the case, it would be time to talk about pets, dust mites and other known allergens and how to avoid them.

It was a little odd standing in this room watching this conversation take place between my son and the pediatrician about my grandson, in contrast to when Brooke, the daughter who taught me everything about asthma and allergies I didn’t want to know, was a baby. This physician works in a busy office seeing patients with all kinds of ailments--the largest pediatric practice in the area--and yet she efficiently and effectively explained the diagnosis, answered all of Dan’s questions, told him what to expect after giving Trey his medication and how to know when to bring him back for additional treatment.

Wow. All in 15 minutes. With a smile on her face and a caring touch of her hands

Despite the coughing and hacking (in addition to sick animals and a few sleepless nights), the seven days spent with the family were precious and humbling. They were a reminder that just because you raised children once, doesn’t mean it would be any easier to do it again! A reminder that the never-ending work is offset by the unexpected leaps of joy over the smallest of things. A reminder that being a parent teaches you more about yourself than you could imagine, no matter how young or old your children are.

And how were your holidays?

1 comment:

  1. How great to have a pediatrician take the time to explain everything.