Monday, January 20, 2014

Breathing Bad (but slowly getting better...)

This is one of those "good news/bad news" kind of stories...involving my kids...who (sooooo fortunately) don't get sick very often...but when they do, they tend to make it...let's say "interesting". This time it was Riley's turn, because it's MLK weekend, and he only comes down with the semi-serious stuff on federal holidays...for completely mysterious reasons. He started out with a garden-variety cold--sniffles, sneezes, sore throat, the usual. But by Saturday night in Winchester, things took an abrupt turn for the worse, and he developed a deep, hacking, continuous cough. (Which sounded like he was trying to expel a lung...and which his brother managed to sleep through entirely--even while sharing a bed. Lucky dog...) By Sunday night, he was in tears from the pain in his chest, and we knew we were in for a doctor visit today. (I'm sure our pediatrician is extremely peaceful and all that, but thank goodness the practice doesn't observe Dr. King's special day...)

Oddly enough, Riley seems to have a "wheezing issue" about once a year--and no one has been able to figure out why. It's not asthma, and there's no obvious cause we can just... happens. So off we went, to have it checked out...which turned out to involve the doctor doing quite a lot of intense listening to all quadrants of Riley's lungs with a stethoscope, while Riley meanwhile attempted to take deep breaths as instructed...and coughed violently. There was also the routine peering into the ears and palpating the glands...leading to the inevitable giggling, as Riley is extraordinarily ticklish under his chin. When the doctor was finished torturing--I mean "examining"--Riley, he said that his lungs sounded "constricted". And the pulse-ox measure the nurse performed yielded a result of 92%--which I realize sounds alarmingly low, but they didn't tell me until after a successful nebulizer treatment that it's pretty much the exact breakpoint they use to determine whether or not someone should be admitted to the hospital. GULP. (It shot up to 96% with the Albuterol assist, pleasing us all...)

Since the nebulizer was effective, the doctor prescribed a continued course of treatments every four (waking) hours (phew! no middle-of-the-night-administration required...) for four days, with the extra support of an oral steroid to get this under control, and an inhaler to use instead of the machine for when he returns to school. He also wanted Riley to have an X-ray, since he'd heard a suspicious "crackle"...and wanted to rule out...pneumonia. (Wow, this just keeps getting more and more FUN! ) So we took our handful of prescriptions and our radiology order down to the basement of the medical building, where we waited some more, to have a picture taken of Riley's chest. (If I sound grumpy, it's because this had become a 2-hour odyssey...and it was encroaching on lunchtime...said my ferociously growling stomach!) Then of course there was the pharmacy trip (Husband volunteered for this one--yaaayyyy!) so we could begin plying Riley with drugs of all kinds. Several treatments later, it seems to be making a difference already, as Riley's definitely coughing less and sounding more comfortable....but he still wants to go to bed right after dinner...poor baby...

The final kicker came via phone call from the doctor later in the afternoon, when he told me the X-ray had shown what looked like....viral pnemonia. Huh. That's certainly a new one for us. So basically, he caught it like a regular old cold, but it settled into his lungs. Because it's a virus, there's no need for antibiotics--just wait for it to run its course...and medicate the heck out of it to beat it into submission. (Yeah, take that...bad germs!) I suppose I should take a moment to be grateful that we already have the nebulizer...from previous "incidents"...but look, I know I'm always going on about "trying new things" and "novel experiences"..that wasn't supposed to apply to my family's health, okay? For the record: I'm fine with a simple, time. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go tuck in my little guy...

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