If you ever need a recommendation on a hospital we should be your first call. Seriously. Poor little M wrapped up her THIRD hospital stay on Sunday. Her cold I mentioned last week turned real serious real quick as it brought on an asthma attack that landed us in the hospital last Thursday. She's back home now and doing well. (By the way our recommendation would be St. Joe's in Hot Springs. 3 different stays, 3 different hospitals. National Park was ok but the rooms are so small Jeremy and I both couldn't stay overnight.)
Her first hospital stay was at three months for pneumonia. Her second hospital stay was at 7 1/2 months-this was when we found out she had asthma. I still have nightmares about that day. When she got up that morning she was breathing slightly heavy, but she had a stuffy nose and it just sounded like it would when any of us are trying to breathe through a stuffy nose. I dropped her off at daycare and received a call from them 5 hours later saying something was wrong and I needed to come and see her. When I got there she was wheezing really loudly and her chest was retracting deeply (this is when your chest sinks in below your rib cage as you try to breathe-it means you're having to use extra muscles because you cannot get enough air). I took her straight to St. Joe's and they rushed us right to an exam room even though the wait was 2 1/2 hours. Her oxygen level was only 78 (more on oxygen levels below). 5 days later she was released from the hospital. She's been on daily asthma medication ever since.
To me, asthma is very hard to predict because it can happen so suddenly and the symptoms are similar to that of any normal cold. Plus, I've never been around anyone with asthma. It is definitely not like what you see on tv where it's clearly obvious that someone is having an asthma attack, and she can't tell me that her chest feels tight so I have to just look for the subtle signs. Emma's asthma seems to become critical when she has a cold (hence our third hospital visit), so I pay extra attention when she's sick. And even then I think I underestimate her asthma. For instance last week I took her back to the doctor on Thursday because her cold just wasn't improving and I noticed a very slight retraction of her chest. I truly did not expect another hospital stay, but her oxygen level was hovering between 89-90 so they admitted her to bring it back up to a safe level. Lesson learned-if I even suspect something might be off-take Emma to the doctor ASAP. Thank goodness I did.
Now about oxygen levels-the respiratory therapist during our latest hospital stay took the time to explain the oxygen curve to me. Here's what I learned- Most people function on an oxygen level between 91-98 and this is completely normal. 89-90 is considered borderline. Once you reach 88 there is a significant drop in oxygen in your body. Image 89 as the edge of a cliff and 88 is stepping off. Even though it doesn't sound like a significant difference it truly is. An oxygen level of 70 can cause death. Remember when I said Emma's level on visit 2 was 78? yeah. I said a furious and heartfelt thank you prayer when I learned this. At the time I realized it was serious but no one took the time to explain to me how serious. It makes sense now when her nurses kept remarking about how great I was being-all calm and collected and being patient with Emma. Hello! I had no idea a few points was all that was separating her from possible death people! I would like to think I would have still been calm, but who knows.
Moral of the story- Don't ever let anyone criticize you for taking your child to the doctor too often or over minor things. Better safe than sorry. Trust me-Emma's file will be a mile thick before too long because I am not taking any chances whatsoever. What was that- a sneeze? To the doctor!
Our Little Trooper