Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Game that Nobody Wins subtitled: Who let the dogs out?!

Winter up here has meant a great deal of indoor time for us. My kids don't like indoor time. They are outdoor-roll-in-the-mud-make-hay-while-the-sun-shines sort of kiddos. So this indoor stuff has been hard on them. It has meant more puzzles and board (or b-o-r-e-d, depending on when you are asking) games. One other game that has been going around, though, is a little one I like to call "Musical Viruses."

I'm sure you have played this or a variation of it at your house. It starts out with one person - usually someone of school-going age - bringing home an exotic germ. First one child gets sick then the next then you all fall like dominoes. Just when you think you have gotten the last family member on the road to recovery, the virus mutates slightly and strikes again. This time with a vengeance. OR one of the children begs to go back to school and brings home a new and improved germ with which to infect his loved ones.

And so it goes for weeks and months until you are able to send every one of their sick little bodies out into the sunshine for several days. Because it's not a cliche for nothing folks, sunshine is the best disinfectant. That and it gives Mom a chance to fumigate the house with Lysol and Oust!

So, this is the game we have been playing in our house since before Christmas. You'll recall Bear's multiple infections, SugarPlum's pneumonia, Bug's ear infection that finally got diagnosed...

The very day Gray Gray got home from Ohio, he went straight to the doctor because he had been having trouble breathing. He was given steroid shots, chest x-rays and some extra heavy duty asthma medicine. Sure enough, by Sunday night, Bug had a nasty cough and high fever. The doctor called it viral (my suspicion as well) and prescribed rest and lots of fluid. I knew that, but I needed confirmation that it wasn't pneumonia after the SugarPlum diagnosis.

Last night, I had everyone doped up and in bed. I was just getting ready to settle in to watch Boston Legal when I hear barking. "What are the dogs barking at?" I ask SD.

"The dogs are right here," he replies.

"Then when did we get a seal?"

Oh, crap, it was Bear.

Or, more accurately..

Oh, CROUP it was Bear.

"Bark bark bark! can't breave. It horts when my coughs."

So, I steam up the bathroom and Bear and I have some "snuggle and breathe time" while SD gets the nebulizer set up. Because, of course, it is a foregone conclusion at this point that the child will need some albuterol. I try to avoid going straight to the steroids but only once has the steamy bathroom/cool night air combo worked all by itself. After the "breaving treatment," Bear seems much better and I get him tucked back in.

Thank heaven for TiVo. I get back to James Spader and Boston Legal (and Micheal J Fox - he's really not looking great is he? do you think it was just for this part or is he just looking that bad?) About midnight I hear the barking again. I go up to check on him. I prop an extra pillow under his head, check the humidifier, and resolve to listen. It is still two hours until he can have another breathing treatment.

By 1:00, his barking/coughing is nearly out of control and I can tell he is having trouble breathing. He is wheezing and I can hear a strider. Definite constricted airway. I tell Bear that I am taking him to the doctor and poor boy just says "Nooooo! I don't want pokies!" You know we have done this more than once right? But you can also tell that he really can't breathe because he doesn't put up much of a fight.

SD helps me bundle Bear into the car and, once I find my military i.d., we are off. We got right in at the ER. I was pleasantly surprised, I must say. They took us right back. Bear was slightly dismayed when, moments after they got us to a bed, a little boy across the way started crying because he was getting shots. I tried to be reassuring, but I also didn't want to make any promises I couldn't keep.

The nurse looked just like Dora the Explorer & she knew it. The kids in the ER liked it and would call for her, "Hey Dora?!" It was cute. Bear was quietly amused. He sat and did activities in this preschool workbook I brought to keep him occupied. Worked like a charm. He was an angel boy. Nothing like a little respiratory virus to keep 'em in line!

When the doctor came in, Bear was lovely and charming. He opened his mouth, breathed like a yoga instructor, coughed just enough to not make me look stupid (you know what I mean!) and did everything the doctor told him.

The doctor said that his lungs sounded clear, but agreed that his airway was constricted and that I was right to bring him into the ER. I was relived to hear this, because I always second guess myself on ER visits and whether they will do more harm than good. But I try not to mess around when it comes to breathing.

Bear was VERY pleased when the doc declared his intention to give the decadron orally rather than by injection. "No pokies?!"

Nurse Dora brought the dose of medicine in along with a bottle of Sprite. She pored a little of the soda one of those little doser cups (the ones we used to make jello shots in when I partied with hospital people shortly after SD & I got married) and mixed the medicine with the sprite because it tasted so bad she said. Bear was positively giddy. No shot (ha!) AND he got to drink soda? This night was getting better and better!

We finally got home at about 3:00, which was really only about an hour and half after we left. Best timing for an ER trip I have ever had! I gave Bear one more breathing treatment. SD offered to sleep in the guest room so that Bear could sleep with me. So, I got Night Night (his blanket) and Bear (Bear's bear) and set the humidifier up in my room and finally settled in bed at 3:45. Of course, being hopped up on steroids, Bear was feeling chatty, so it was a while before we were actually asleep!

SD got up with Bug and SugarPlum this morning and let me sleep until he had to get ready for work. He only has the one class, so he is coming home to let me nap later. Until then, can somebody run to Starbucks and grab a venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte for me? It's gonna be a looooooong morning!

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