Yesterday Carter started coughing, and it only got worse as the day went on. It was a rough night and I ended up sitting up with him for part of it. He had a mild fever and was clearly really uncomfortable, and the coughing appeared to be painful and unproductive. He was wheezing when he breathed and taking lots of quick short breaths.
This morning I decided to take him to the doctor. It's only the second time in his life he's ever been for a sick visit, which is actually really good considering he was a preemie. So I canceled my classes (something I hate doing, but it was necessary today) and made a mid-morning appointment.
They did lots of tests, including a flu test (which came back negative, happily) and a chest x-ray (which showed no signs of pneumonia), and the diagnosis was finally viral bronchitis. We all had mild colds last weekend, and Carter'd had a runny nose early in the week, but it seemed so mild I didn't worry about it. Apparently the virus that caused our colds got into his lungs and caused the bronchitis, something that commonly happens in small children.
The doctor wanted me to bring him back if he gets much worse, because they are really cautious about preemies and lung infections. We got a nebulizer and a prescription for medicine to use in it, and we have to do that treatment at least 3 times a day for the next week. We did one treatment in the office, and boy, that was fun. :-P A nebulizer is basically a machine that breaks up liquid medicine into tiny particles that float like steam, and then you can inhale the medicine through a plastic mask that goes over your nose. The directions say to take "deep, steady breaths".
Ha. Okay, with a toddler, not so much. The nurse said just to keep it near his face so he'll breathe it in, but even that was a challenge. The machine makes a loud hissing noise (which Carter absolutely hates and calls "scary" and "loud") and the smokey stuff coming out of the mask freaked him out. I wrestled with him for a minute, and was about to give up when it hit me that I should try nursing him. And that worked! I just held the mask close to his nose while he nursed, and though he wasn't happy about it, he didn't fight it any more. (Breastfeeding is seriously like duct tape for parenting. It can fix anything!)
So we'll see how the lung treatments go over the weekend. I hope he'll get used to it and it won't be a struggle every time. It takes at least 5 minutes, and that can feel like a really long time with a squirming child.
The x-ray was probably the worst part of the whole visit, oddly enough. The room was full of scary-looking machines, and the tech and I had to don big lead aprons and then hold Carter in position while the x-rays were taken from two different angles. He was really freaked out about the whole thing and kept saying, "Mommy, mommy, up!" and trying to climb up me. I was glad when that part was over.
Oh, and they weighed him at the doctor and he weighs around 26 pounds (26.25 with clothes on). I would have guessed he weighed a little more than that, but apparently not!
Well, he's just finished some lunch (almost an entire container of blueberries and nothing else), and it's almost time to break out the nebulizer again. Wish me luck!