Asthma and what came after

23 March 2015
Gosh, it's been simply ages since I've posted. I've been a bit busy. Starting at a new uni, it not quite working, starting at a different uni, job hunting, house hunting, volunteering on the state election campaign, traffic snarls, political trouble both at home and abroad...but I've promised DH the second all those things go away, we'll have sex. (Except I'm writing this post first. Sorry, honey!).

Then there was the small matter of Baby G getting sick. He's always been a robust and healthy kid, not inheriting his father's skin and respiratory issues, and I thought if he didn't develop problems after living next to the coal trains in Newcastle for two years, he never would. So when he popped up one Saturday a couple weeks back with what seemed to be a bit of a cold, I wasn't too concerned. He was a bit lethargic but still cheerful; I rubbed his little chest with Vaporub, wrapped him warmly, planned to make a chicken soup he wouldn't eat.

But as the day wore on, his breathing became increasingly laboured. By evening, DH wanted to take him to hospital. I demurred; it was getting late, and cold, and surely Baby G was better off tucked up in his bed than sitting in emergency for hours on end? But in the end I deferred to the experience of asthmatic with a nursing degree, and we headed in to RPA, to be sent home with antibiotics for a respiratory tract infection after a boring few hours wait, I imagined.

In casualty, it was obvious his breathing was becoming very laboured, and we were taken straight through to the resus bay to monitor his oxygen levels. Despite the struggle to breathe, he was still Baby G, introducing himself to the doctors: "Hello, I' have a cold". He didn't have a fever or any other signs of infection, but the poor kid was panting like he was running a marathon and his blood oxygen was hovering around 90%. Hourly Ventolin was prescribed, and steroids, until he could be stabilised enough to be moved to the ward.

And yet he didn't seem sick. He wasn't scared or sad or fussing; he was fascinated by everything that was going on, asking nurses what their names were and what their job was and what that piece of equipment is called and what does it do. Then for us, there was nothing to do but wait. He was never in any real danger, and I was very grateful to be living in a country that (for now) provided this level of medical care for free. Finally, around about midnight, Baby G was admitted to the children's ward, DH stayed with him, and I headed home to grab a few hours sleep.

Next morning I arrived at the hospital to relieve DH with fresh clothes, Mr Bun, and a fully charged iPad. This was where the fun started. G looked much too well to be in hospital, but couldn't be discharged until he was stable on three-hourly Ventolin. There was a play room, but that soon wore thin for an active three year old who was soon demanding to "go...home...NOW!". When even unlimited iPad, a treat strictly forbidden at home, loses its thrill you know things are getting rough.

I have no parents of chronically ill children cope. None. I got a tiny little insight into their world, the world of hospitals and conditions and worry, and whilst I guess you just have to get on with your lot in life, seriously, props to those people. Hospitals are their own little universes, and even after one day, it was jarring to step outside after we were discharged back into the real world.

But anyway, there I was at 1pm being given the official diagnosis; my kid has asthma. It's not entirely a surprise; DH had multiple stays in hospital under an oxygen tent by Baby G's age. G has a much milder case than that, but we've still entered into the world of treatment plans and management and knowing when to call the ambulance. Oh, and those steroids I mentioned? They can lower his immunity. So now I'm one of those parents who is relying on heard immunity to protect my vaccinated child. So yeah, I've gone from vaccine skeptic, to individual rights, to "shut up and vaccinate your kids, you selfish dolt". But I'm lucky; I got to take my tired but basically okay kid home.

A couple of lovely people sent messages whilst we were in hospital, asking was I okay being at RPA. I was; separate wards and all. The staff were all lovely. But as for inspiring my administration have told me the deficiencies in my treatment when Baby G was born were because I "fell through the cracks", rather than gross cruelty and incompetence. We didn't see any cruelty, but as G was being discharged I noticed his weight was listed on his discharge papers as 10.2Kg. Now, he'd been weighed the night before at admission - and his weight was 18.2Kg. This wasn't a petty matter of accuracy like spelling his name right - his body weight is what they used to calculate the dosage of his medication and when I pointed out the error, his doses had to be reconfigured. Surely, surely a medical professional working with kids all day should notice that a kid weighs barely more than half of what he should, or that a tall, sturdy, fit three-and-a-half year old kid should weigh more than ten kilos? Some slipping through the cracks, I guess.

Anyway, G is fine now, usually pretty good at taking his meds and I've pimped out his puffer and spacer with stickers and such. And hopefully "Dad knew I needed to go to hospital but Mum just thought I had a cold" won't become an anecdote told at the 21st. Who'd be a parent, huh? I'm glad we're just doing this once. Probably. For now.


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