Monday, December 16, 2013


Tonight, as I read, Molly comes to my side every few minutes. I look at her; at six-and-a-half, she has no idea that Keith and I observe an uneasy anniversary at this time.

I can hear Devyn's indistinct words from where I am, one storey above, and I am more than glad that she is doing math work. She's grumbling, yes, and Keith is down there with her. As we were drawn into the preteen drama of incomplete homework earlier this evening, I remembered that we were at her side for an altogether different, frightening reason exactly seven years ago.

December 17, 2006


OK, waiting for an ambulance to get to my unresponsive child is the most uncomfortable experience I've had as an adult.

"Please hurry!" I screamed at the 9-1-1 operator.

Devyn had a rectal fever of 39.8, she was breathing rapidly and didn't make eye contact and didn't respond to our voices. K held her upright on the steps as I opened the door waiting for the paramedics. She began vomiting.

They put her in the ambulance right away. There were lights and a firetruck and I remember being aware that I was cutting across my lawn to get to her.

I held the oxygen mask over the face of my shaking child. I was hysterical but at least I was aware that she was probably frightened and pulled myself together enough to keep reassuring her. I remember vaguely hearing one paramedic tell the other that I was pregnant.

The ambulance only took about two minutes to arrive at our house, maybe three minutes to get to the hospital. K drove behind us and arrived maybe 5 - 10 minutes later.

Her heartrate was a terrifying 170 bpm and her oxygen saturation was only 80%.

There were so many doctors and nurses and student doctors waiting for her because they had been alerted that she was on the way and I kept wondering if I was losing my daughter. I was holding another oxygen mask over her mouth and nose.

The doctors and nurses tried to find veins in order to get a line and they couldn't on either arm or her feet. So, they just had to keep jabbing her and tightening rubber strips around her arms until they found one, took blood and wrapped her arm up.

I remember asking if I'd gotten her to the hospital in time.

One kind paramedic kept telling me how well I had done, that I was a good mother.

The nurses inserted an acetaminophen suppository but it wasn't going to work. At her best, three hours later, her fever was 39 degrees. They gave her ibuprofen and catheterized her.

The doctor said something about the possibility that she'd had an atypical febrile seizure, but the conversation is a blur.

Finally, she appreciatively licked a popsicle that I held to her mouth for several minutes. She was so weak and that very experience reminded me of when she was only a baby. She still wasn't speaking.

Then, she began to make eye contact with me and it was prolonged and often as if she was silently begging me to do something or to know something or to be something. I stared back, telling her that everything was going to be OK and she just kept staring into my eyes.

At around midnight, the doctor told us that she didn't have a bacterial infection and that she could go home as long as he was convinced that she would take fluids. She was very dehydrated.

By this time, she was answering questions:

"Would you like a popsicle?"
"No, thank you. I don't need one." 

Only my daughter would be so polite through a traumatic experience, I thought.

K and I finally had to force pedialyte through a 10 ml syringe into her mouth and did it every 15 minutes.

I think finally hearing her speak normally let me know that everything would be OK.

And, so ended our ordeal that began at 3:00 am on Saturday morning. She'd had a fever of 102.9, we gave her Tempra and the fever disappeared. At 5:00 pm or so, we took her temperature and gave her Tempra but she'd vomited it up. She'd behaved normally throughout the day (though we skipped ballet and music classes) even drawing me pictures just an hour or so before the 9-1-1 call. We had been getting ready to take her to the clinic because she wasn't herself and she was burning up. Then, she became completely unresponsive, her eyes rolling back in her head, and K said, "Call 9-1-1." We'd thought that at the same time.

But, at around 1:00 am, we wrapped her in K's coat and put her in the car to go home. While he sorted out parking lot problems, we waited with the car running.

"Mummy, when I grow up, I'm going to go in a spaceship."

Plans for the future. I needed to hear that.

"That's a very good idea, baby."

December 21, 2006

I Didn't Think It Could Get Worse... 

But it did.

The next day, Devyn seemed normal and we went out to celebrate my completion of the Journalism course. Then, we went for a drive to the local falls.

When we got home, Devyn drew pictures for me while I put my feet up for a while. I still hadn't slept more than two hours.

I noticed that she was warm but it was only around 37 and I worried only a little. We gave her Tylenol and Motrin.

Within an hour, Devyn, sitting on the couch beside me, spiked a fever of 40.2. We didn't hesitate to wrap her up and head to the emergency and she told me that her throat hurt and that she couldn't breathe.

Once there, they decided to admit her but there were no beds. So, we ended up in a room used for patients who may need resuscitation from respiratory problems. The patient beside us was a baby with bronchial asthma who was in respiratory failure. There were doctors and nurses resuscitating her all night in our makeshift ICU. There was no sleep for me or for K.

One of the many doctors who had seen her the night before came over to our bed and told us that he was glad that we'd actually come back because, upon rereading the chest x-ray of the night before, well, they could say that Devyn had pneumonia from a bacterial infection.

She was treated with three doses of IV amoxycillan and discharged the next morning even though her "sats" weren't very good: high heart/resp rates as well as very low oxygen saturation.

Still, we were relieved to be going home. Another sleepless night worrying about my baby and my unborn child.

That day, Devyn, again, seemed normal: watching television, playing, imagining and no fever.

During the night, however, I noticed that she was not breathing very well: her breaths were incredibly rapid and she seemed like she was struggling. We decided to take her to the emergency at 4:00 a.m.

This time, she couldn't utter a sentence without sounding breathless and I just knew that something serious was happening.

As we waited in the emergency room for two hours (unheard of for us to this point), Devyn slept but there was something about her that had changed and I couldn't tell you why I thought that. Just my intuition, I guess.

As soon as she was called in to an exam room, a doctor looked at her and said, "Your sats are awful...She looks like a very sick child."

The doctor looked at her file and said to another, "Look, she has RSV." It's a common childhood cold virus that happens to be very serious for some children, my child.

Another doctor, the head of Pediatrics, came to tell us that our weak little girl had both the RSV virus and bacterial pneumonia and, of course, they were not going to send her home this time.

She was treated with nebulizers and had another chest x-ray. She was admitted to the Pediatric unit of the children's hospital.

I felt relieved, frightened at the same time. But there was so much more to come...

Once Devyn was settled into her bed and we had notified people of her condition, I noticed that she kept falling asleep while talking to me. Her numbers were low: oxygen at 80%, heartrate above 160. She was hot to the touch.

I went to the nurses' station to let them know and they came to look at her but said they weren't worried.

I was because I knew something was wrong, was going wrong. Her breathing then sped up and, this time, I wanted them to take me seriously.

The nurses came, kept an eye on her but didn't seem too concerned.

When I saw her numbers change again, I insisted something was wrong. I said, "I'm not a doctor but I can't shake the feeling that she's getting sicker."

Something must have clicked because, as Devyn declined further still, more nurses appeared. Then, more doctors.

Then a horrible announcement from a nurse: "Devyn's getting sicker and we need to call in ICU workers to help because we can't leave her room but we all have four other patients to attend. She needs more intensive care."

The ICU workers came and said, "Yes, your child is definitely getting sicker. We may move her to ICU because that's where she belongs."

Devyn was fevered at 39.9, after Tylenol, and she wasn't conscious. I started panicking: what if it gets even worse? Is she dying? K had left to get things from home and I couldn't reach him: all of this happened in the space of his absence. When he returned -- and I felt so sorry that he had to walk into this episode unprepared -- I said,

"She's getting sicker!"

Before we knew it, there were about nine doctors and nurses consulting outside her room, filing in and out, as well as several carts and machines that now crowded the corridor.

I had to leave the room because an X-ray machine was going to be used. My little girl was so desperately ill.

I can't describe what it felt like to see her like that, to not know if I was losing her. She was getting sicker and I didn't know what that meant. Her tiny chest moved rapidly, her eyes were closed but not in sleep, her arms lay limply at her sides before I was ushered out.

I stood against the wall opposite her room while doctors and nurses rushed around me and her. They were serious and I looked for signs that maybe it wasn't as bad as it seemed. Maybe if they'd made eye contact it would have helped me but they had the austere faces of those who raced against time to find out what was wrong and to fix it.

I couldn't see the sheer number of doctors and nurses as a good thing, as one nurse had suggested to me. I couldn't consider that moving to the ICU would be a good thing, as the same nurse had suggested.

After a few hours, the doctors and nurses dwindled in number, Devyn was on massive IV infusions of antibiotics and electrolytes and she still wasn't conscious. She was stabilizing. Her numbers were still way off but not as seriously as before. For many hours to come, her breathing would remain the same but, at least, she was responding to medication.

By the next day, incredibly, Devyn was sitting up in bed, listening to her favourite Backyardigans music on K's Sennheiser headphones connected to my laptop.

She began to attract a lot of attention again only this time people gathered to watch the cute baby bouncing and bobbing her head in time to the music.

"She should be in a Sony commercial," a man with dreads said.

"Omigawd! Look at her! She is so-o-o cute," said another.

Devyn was oblivious to it all.

Released 48 hours after the second admission, we took her home. Actually, we'd been promising her that she could have new tights for days and, on this day, this is what she wanted to do. So, we went home, dropped off luggage, etc. and headed to the mall to go to Old Navy.

K, unable to refuse her anything at this point, bought her everything she requested.

The next day, we called our family doctor for an appointment and got one that day.

Devyn was in great condition but the doctor prescribed amoxicillan for me because I have been sick for more than three weeks.

I realize that the diary entry ends abruptly. But, all this to say: we were there and now we are here, thankfully.

No comments:

Post a Comment