Thursday was a pretty crazy day. I work on Thursdays, and usually leave before Carter wakes up. He'd had a lingering cough from a very mild cold, and the night before had been whimpering after some coughing fits, like he was in pain. Around midnight I gave him some ibuprofen, and that seemed to make him more comfortable. He slept fairly soundly for the rest of the night.
I was about to head over to teach my second class at noon, and checked my phone to see that Michelle had been texting me all morning. My ringer was turned off, so I hadn't gotten any of the texts. I scanned through them: Carter was not feeling well, he was wheezing, lethargic, now having trouble breathing, she wanted to take him to the doctor but I needed to call them first. I called her and she almost sounded panicked -- he was that bad. So I told her to take him to the doctor and that I would meet them there. I called the clinic, then canceled my class and jumped in the car. All the way there, my mind was racing, going through all the possibilities. Doug had flown to CA that morning, and had forgotten his cell phone. Other than email, I had no way to contact him.
When I got to the clinic I went straight to the back, and immediately heard the sound of a small child screaming. I thought, "That kind of sounds like Carter." And it was. He was in an exam room, with Michelle trying to hold him while a nurse was holding a mask over his face, trying to get a bronchial dilator into him. Carter looked utterly terrified. He was screaming and crying, and when he saw me his little arms reached out and he started saying, "Mommy! Mommy!" The turned off the machine and let me hold him and nurse him and calm him down.
His oxygen saturation levels had been in the mid-80s when Michelle brought him in, so they had jumped on that right away. After the treatment he was satting in the low 90s, still not great, but better. They did a chest x-ray (which scared him all over again), and that didn't show any sign of pneumonia. We waited in the exam room, and the nurse would periodically come in to check his oxygen level. The moment Carter saw him or the doctor, he'd start to freak out, and it was so bad the nurse finally showed Michelle how to use the oxygen monitor so that she could check it without the nurse having to come in!
He was basically completely terrified the entire time we were there, poor kid. He kept saying, "It's so scary!" Nothing they did to him actually hurt him in any way, it was just all scary, and the only thing that calmed him down was nursing. There are many great reasons to nurse a toddler, but being able to help him through a scary medical procedure was certainly a good one today. The doctor even commented how much easier it was to work with nursing toddlers in situations like this.
The doctor said he might have Reactive Airway Disease, which is a mild form of asthma, and so this might be a pattern that we'll see throughout his childhood. He was given a dose of an oral steroid and the doctor told us to go home and use the nebulizer every 3-4 hours (we have the machine and meds from the last time this happened in the fall) and just keep an eye on it. If he didn't improve, she suggested we take him to Dell Children's and said he would probably be admitted. The idea of having Carter in the hospital while Doug was on the other side of the country with no cell phone was NOT appealing!
But honestly, I didn't think that would happen. He doesn't mind the nebulizer at home, perhaps because it's familiar and in a non-threatening environment. He responds really well to the treatment too, and after one treatment at home he was completely himself again. We did a few more treatments that day, and he slept well overnight, so I didn't have to wake him up to do one. We went back to the doctor this morning, and his sats were in the mid-90s, which is not bad. The doctor (his regular doctor this time) said it was too early to know for sure if he has asthma, that we should just wait and see what happens in the next year or two.
He checked Carter's ears and it turns out that he also has an ear infection! His ears were checked yesterday and they were fine, so this popped up overnight. Now he's on an antibiotic for the first time since the NICU, and we'll continue doing nebulizer treatments for the next few days. The doctor said to come in on Monday if he hasn't improved, but I'm hopeful that he will.
It looks like we're just going to have to be very attentive to any lung issues that come up. Since he was a preemie he's much more prone to having breathing issues, which makes sense -- his lungs were exposed to air 2 and a half months too early, after all.
Here are some pictures of him checking out the nebulizer. It's interesting how it's no big deal at home, but terrifying at the doctor's office.
I generally just hold it next to his face and let him breathe in as much as he can. but this morning he was starting to breathe with it in his mouth. If we're going to have to do this for years, he might as well get used to it, I guess.
So we're hanging out this weekend and taking it easy. :-P