On Monday morning, Veteran’s Day, bright and early, D’s pneumonia returned dramatically. It was time to get some answers, since you can’t have pneumonia three times in six weeks, right?
(Turns out you can, if it’s a powerful virus).
So we set off for the ER with the snow-capped peaks of Mt Hood behind us, lit up from a brilliant pink sunrise. On the way, D and I held hands in back seat, and sang Kurt Elling’s version of Duke Ellington’s I Like the Sunrise, a fitting tune that’s been in rotation lately at bath time.
In the ER, we got more chest x-rays, two more albuterol treatments, and then when the pneumonia was diagnosed, it was time for a massive does of antibiotics…via an IV. I think getting the IV in could have gone a little better, but we all did our best. The staff have a technique of wrapping the child up tightly, like swaddling, so the child can’t move their arms or legs (except the free arm, which must be held down with some significant adult will). I thought this was a clever technique, except that now he associates swaddling — something we did a lot of in the past –with pain). It went on longer than it needed to, so I tried hard to keep D focused on me. When he was at his most upset, he cried out:
I want to go home in my crib and go to sleep!
I thought that was a pretty logical request and was impressed with how lucid he was about the whole ordeal. “Bunny my Honey,” his stuffed soft plush bunny, held his wrist up for most of the time that followed, because he didn’t want to move his hand around. Poor bunny!
The ER doc decided we needed to be admitted. I was surprised, since we had managed on our own for the last 2 episodes, but relieved as well, because I wanted to get some new eyes on the problem (this worked: we’re going to a pediatric pulmonologist). D did an awesome job and settled right into his “new bed” and “his room” like we were on vacation (in a way it was just like that: people bring you toys to play with, you get to watch all the movies you want, and the food arrives cooked! And you get cake! How about that? We never get cake at home!)
A second emotional difficulty was in store for us later that day, however, when the doc ordered a test that involved squirting saline up his nose and extracting some goodies. Same swaddle technique, but at least this one was much faster. Reflecting upon his stay later, D has remarked a few times: “I didn’t like those two things.” [IV and nasal fun].
On the other hand, D really liked that we spent a large chunk of time together, and he loved that I slept with him in the hospital bed all night. Although it was quite a tight squeeze and my limbs were asleep most of the time, it was re-assuring for him and a treat for me to be close with my little “baby” again.
This is the same hospital at which D was born; since we drive by it on the way to school, D often asks me to recount the day he was born. He loves to hear the story. And again we were impressed by the staff there. Each person we interacted with — and there were several, between the ER, Radiology, hospital and shift changes — was thoughtful, sensitive, reasonable, professional and warm. In a way I think I had a false sense of security because I have all the good memories of the birth. Maybe I would have felt differently if we’d gone there for something really traumatic (touching wood as I type).
Here are some video chronicles of this adventure.
By early the next morning, around the 3am vital signs check, D’s breathing had returned to normal. Hooray, this was the end of this (mis)adventure. Although the day dawned cold, wet and cloudy, there was a bright sunrise in our little block of heaven.
When the heavy blue curtain of the night
Is raised up high clear out of sight
Then I like the sunrise, so heavenly to see
I like the sunrise, the music in every sunrise
Makes a space inside the skies, for setting free.