It all began nearly three weeks ago. After the Saturday afternoon merriment of a giant inflatable water slide birthday party while on the drive home the cough that I dread...the croupy bark that I've come to despise reared its ugly head. It's the only thing that remains after five years of fighting like hell every time WC gets a cold to keep him out of the hospital. It's the cough that cannot be stopped. It means his asthma is acting up. The cough is his only symptom and over the years the episodes have gotten fewer and farther between and lack the urgency of those he had at aged two.
The thing I dreaded about kindergarten was having to get a whole new group of adults used to his symptoms-just because he coughs out phlegm doesn't mean he's contagious. The daycare/preschool people had become used to him over the past three years. I knew the school people would probably overreact. On Monday I give him his nebulizer treatment before he leaves for school and I was aware of his cough. I get a call from the school nurse at 8:20- he'd been in the clinic coughing uncontrollably for about ten minutes, his "oxygen saturation was low" and he couldn't return to class she needed someone to come pick him up. I call Cat to run over to the school & get him. I knew they'd overreact but this did seem a little much for me to send him home just for coughing. But then the oxygen saturation comment set in my mind for a few minutes. I flashed back to (after a long illness that kept getting worse) carrying my unconscious two year old through a parking garage towards the ER then the barrage of nurses, doctors, techs, tubes, IV, xrays. Being alone watching these strangers poke needles into my baby because Jay worked for a satellite office two hours away. Then sitting up all night next to the crib in CCU staring at the oxygen monitor praying, begging God to let that number rise. Sleep only happened when I dropped off with my head leaning on the crib rail. Xrays revealed he had pneumonia so bad they couldn't tell if it was viral or bacterial. They usually can tell by the way it looks in the xray. But his was so solid that they couldn't determine or see the area where his heart should have been. Over the next three days they ran an hour worth of antibiotics through his IV twice a day- two different antibiotics for 30 min each. Over the next three days I witnessed him come back to his old self. The day we were going to be discharged we were sitting in a chair in the room, he was watching cartoons on the tv and I could see down the hallway of the CCU. I noticed that one room down the hall had medical personnel rush into the room three times during the course of the morning and the last time the occupant of the room rushed out in a fury. When reality slammed me like a lead weight- We would be taking our baby home that day and not everyone around me would be afforded the luxury of taking their child home. The kid in the room next to us had a bandage wrapped around his head- brain surgery. I cried, ashamed that I had felt sorry for myself and complained. We were the luckiest people on the floor.
This was wandering around in my head all morning when I called WC's doctor and made an appointment that afternoon. His pediatrician made me feel better when she told me to take the results of the oxygen saturation with a grain of salt. The school would have used a portable oxygen monitor and those results aren't accurate. They wont even have one in their office because the sticker they place on the finger has to be the appropriate size and has to be fit on the finger perfectly- otherwise the results are skewed. WC was far too perky and alert to have low oxygen saturation- case in point his condition the day I took him to the hospital. It made sense. Now he was definitely having issues with his asthma and she prescribed him a new preventative medication. An inhaled steroid. He hasn't been on a preventative med in over a year because it didn't make any difference in the number or severity of episodes and at $1 a pill it has to make a marked difference before I will keep buying it. I'm happy with the inhaled steroid because unlike the liquid (which can't be used long term due to side effects) or another pill this is put directly where needed (lungs) and doesn't travel throughout the body and helps cut back on any possibility of side effects. She is well aware that I'm not into medication for a long term basis- if he only reacts four months out of twelve why stay on medication for the whole 12? She asked me to leave him on it up through spring and then decide because if he's fine why risk it by taking him off. My though though is that if he never reacts May-July then why? He's been on it now for two weeks and it takes a full two-four weeks to build up and get maximum benefits- so we shall see how this years cold season goes. And with the added threat of swine flu (they say attaches itself deeper in the lungs than traditional flu)- which has already entered our home- more an that later- we shall see. Fingers crossed and prayers said.
***Congratulations to Michele and Peter on the birth of beautiful twins, Bobby & Maya. You're in my thoughts & prayers. I love you guys!