Background: My poor dear Lilli was sent home from school last Friday with a fever of 103. She seemed to be doing ok until Sunday when I noticed she had neck retractions from trying to breathe so I gave her inhaler and we went about our day. That night we got home and her breathing wasn’t any better and she looked a little bit grey/blue, which of course freaked us out and after a lot of discussion about what to do I announced “we are going to the ER”. We went to Lovelace Women’s Hospital and were seen in about an hour and after X-Rays and a nose swab (YUCK!) were taken we were admitted to the pediatric observation clinic. The X-Rays suggested that she had pneumonia and the pediatrician diagnosed her with bronchiolitis. They kept her in the clinic until Tuesday morning on oxygen that they were delivering through a mask. Luckily by Monday afternoon she only needed oxygen when she was sleeping. The nice thing about using a mask in the clinic is that they have pretty much an unlimited oxygen supply so they just turn it WAY up so the mask just has to be close to her face but not actually touching her. They sent us home on Tuesday morning with orders to use oxygen while Lilli sleeps. This sounded great until I realized that we were only going to be given a tank (a limited supply) of oxygen so we could not deliver the oxygen through a strategically placed mask. No, we were going to have to use nasal cannula. Tuesday night went ok, but she did not get oxygen like she should have because she kept ripping the cannula out of her nose.
Jump to Wednesday night: Kris and I decided that our new strategy would be to let Lilli go to sleep and wait until she was in a fairly deep sleep and then put on the oxygen. IT WORKED….ok, for about 10 minutes until she woke up screaming. We continued to try this technique until we got so frustrated and worried because her oxygen sats were dropping to 83% (normal is above 93 or 94% at our altitude). The battled ensued. We decided to hold her down, put the cannula in her nose, and then tape the tubing in place on her face (as is often done in the hospital). We figured she would get used to the feeling and be fine and that even if she began to fight we could outlast an exhausted 2 year old. After all, we had age and numbers on our side. We definitely underestimated the stamina of our sick, exhausted, and oxygen deprived 2 year old. It was 2 against one and I was up first. I held her tight which she didn’t like so then we played a little to get used to her cannula, which she did until I tried to rock her to sleep and the screaming began again. Then I laid with her in bed…nope…that was just play time. Kris decided that mommy was too nice and this was going to take a firm hand. (Can you feel the hours ticking away yet…yes, hours…not minutes). Kris was up. He rocked her like a baby in a firm grip to keep her hands from touching the cannula…she screamed as he reasoned with her explaining that the oxygen and funny things in her nose were necessary. She screamed for mommy so I laid down on the floor by the door to hide from her as Kris put her in her bed and tried to put her to sleep. This was play time too. I was almost asleep on the floor, but I couldn’t let her defeat me. I think at some point this battle became a matter of principle as much as a way to get Lilli to accept her necessary treatment. I finally got fed up and told Kris I would take over if he would go take care of the dogs. It was my turn again…it was late…I was tired and frustrated and had resolved that I would be victorious in this battle. We walked and rocked in her chair and sang and made up songs and drank juice and played with her oohooh-aahaah (monkey for those of you who are unfamiliar with your animal sounds). She asked for more juice…I refused. She asked for water…I refused. She asked for milk…the light bulb went off! Warm milk…great trick…why didn’t I think of that. I screamed for Kris…no answer. Maybe I wasn’t loud enough….I screamed louder….no answer. I threw my hands up in frustration, disconnected the tubing from the oxygen tank, grabbed Lilli and walked to the kitchen to get some warm milk. As I walked by the couch I realized that we had one man down…Kris was asleep. I yelled at him…out of frustration…but he didn’t budge. I went and got the warm milk myself grumbling the whole time (I know…good attitude…I am a lovely wife). I was tired, my morale was down and Lilli was winning. How could a 2 year old be winning? This was my last attempt. If this failed she was going to sleep with oxygen saturations in the 80’s and she was going to live through it. I rocked her as she drank her milk. She was distracted and her hands were busy so I was in luck. Her head got heavy and her eyes closed and finally…yes finally…she was asleep! I WON!! I mean…WE WON!!!! And it was only 12:40 am. We then curled up in our sleeping bags on the floor of Lilli’s room and fell asleep.
Follow up: Lilli is fine. She still has low oxygen levels but the doctor said he thinks she will be off oxygen by Sunday and she will be back to school by Monday. She still has more energy than a lot of healthy kids I know! I think she gets her energy from her dad.