Friday, December 30, 2011

Wesley's RSV Adventure

Well, back in mid-December Wesley got sick. He was coughing and rather congested, but after a couple of days of that he woke up around 3:00 on the morning of Sunday the 11th with a fever of 101.6. The rule for a newborn is anything over 100.3=a trip to the ER (if it's after-hours...and really, doesn't everything happen after-hours?). I called the on-call pediatrician number to confirm that we needed to come in, called a friend to come over to spend the remainder of the night and morning here with Talmage, and a few minutes later we were on our way to Texas Children's Hospital.

After a brief wait in the waiting room we were taken into a triage room, where we basically answered a bunch of questions and Wesley's vital statistics were taken. Then we were moved to a seperate room in the ER. A few various people came in and checked on him and we were told they would be taking a nasal mucous sample, a urine sample, a blood sample, and possibly a spinal tap (to check for meningitis?) depending on the results of the first 3 tests and what the doctor wanted to do. They would also put in an IV needle in case it was needed later.

They suctioned out his nose to take the mucous sample and Wesley cried his first tears. When I commented on it to the people working on him they said, "Yeah, we're known for that." After all the samples were taken came the hour waiting period. We just sat in the room and I held Wesley until I started to nod off and decided to lay him in his carseat. When our nurse came in she saw this:
and started talking about how great he looked. His color was good, he seemed comfortable, and she was confident that he was doing well. After the test results came back indicating he had RSV, she started talking with us about what that meant for us, basically telling us that we would probably just be going home because he seemed to be doing so well.

Then she hooked him up to the monitors and everything changed. As she studied the numbers on the screen a concerned look came over her face and she said, "That...wasn't what I was expecting to see." I asked, "Is it bad?" and she responded, "Well, it isn't good...let me go get the doctor." Suddenly our room was full of doctors, nurses, respiratory specialists, etc. Wesley was hooked up to oxygen, a heart rate monitor, a breaths per minute monitor, an oxygen saturation monitor, and a blood pressure monitor. An IV was started, and they waited to see how he responded. The ER supervising doctor came in to talk with us and told us that they would try a few things to see how he responded and if he didn't respond well he would have to be knocked out and intubated while the virus ran its course. She said that it had been a particularly bad RSV season--not only had there been more cases, but the cases had been worse.

After a little while they could see that he wasn't responding well to the oxygen. The main problems they saw were that his oxygen saturation was still in the low 80s and he was having some problematic breathing patterns. He would breathe at a rate of 90 breaths per minute for a while and then stop breathing for 10 or 15 seconds, then start breathing really fast again, then stop completely, etc. They started him on high flow oxygen to see if he would respond better to that.

That big blue hose coming off the side of the bed is the high-flow oxygen tube.

It's so sad to see your tiny baby hooked up to so many machines, but I'm so grateful for the medical advancements we get to reap the blessings of in this day and age!

We spent 15ish hours in the ER, waiting for a room. The problem was that they didn't feel comfortable sending him to the regular RSV floor since his breathing still wasn't great. So they wanted to send him to the NICU, but one unit didn't allow the high-flow oxygen and he was too old for the other unit. Finally, late Sunday evening, they settled on the Progressive Care Unit where there is a higher ratio of doctors and nurses to patients than on the regular floor. They brought in a crib for him while we were still waiting in the ER.

I was given a packet of information and immediately saw instructions to not take your child out of the bed. I worriedly mentioned it to a nurse and she assured me that I could hold him. I was so grateful! At least I could offer him that simple comfort through all the difficulties and pain he was going through. We spent a long night in our little corner of the large room we shared with 3 other patients. They had to keep suctioning out his lungs, and when they did that they would feed a catheter up his nose until it went down into his lungs and suck the mucous out. He had more than usual in his lungs, and at one point they did it for a good 20 minutes or so straight, threading that catheter up and down, up and down, up and down. It was torture to see him screaming and writhing on the bed as I held his hands.

The next morning many doctors came to check on him. They tried weaning him off the oxygen, but when they took it off the first time he started having problems again so they had to keep him on a little bit throughout most of the day. Sam came over from the hospital where his lab is (it's just down the street from Texas Children's) at lunch time to say hi and check on us, which we were very happy about! Finally, on Monday afternoon, they took him off the oxygen completely and he was doing well enough to keep him off of it. They also disconnected his IV. He was so much happier once a few of his wires and tubes were gone!

Our little trooper charmed the nurses as he smiled at them despite his torturous treatments and the large cheek protectors he was wearing.

But it was a rather confusing time for the poor little guy...

He had improved faster than the staff had expected, and it looked like we might be able to go home Monday night. The doctor who was giving the discharge order started talking with me and said she would leave it up to me whether we went home or not. On the one hand, of course I wanted to be done at the hospital. But on the other, it is awfully comforting to have the medical care at your fingertips and the monitors hooked up in case there is a problem. I talked with her at length, but I still felt slightly uneasy. I asked, "He wouldn't just stop breathing suddenly, right? I mean, we would have warnings like coughing..." and the doctor just said there was no way to know if that would happen. I was frustrated because they thought he was doing well enough to go home but kept saying they would leave it up to me and see if I felt comfortable with it. 

I was settled when our bishop stopped by, who is a geneticist at the same hospital. He came and chatted with me for a while and told me some things about RSV that he had dealt with that really helped clear up some of my hesitancy.

Well, we finally made the decision to take him home and Sam came to pick us up, leaving Talmage at home with a babysitter so we could make all arrangements without him underfoot. He was on his way when the head doctor for the PCU came by and said, " think you're going home, huh? Well, from what I saw this morning you aren't. You're staying here another night. My residents can't discharge you without my blessing." I was confused because I thought we already had the official go-ahead and concerned since Sam was already on his way and we already had everything packed up and ready to go. But then my previous uneasiness was settled because he meticulously checked Wesley and said he was doing great! He told me that if he had the slightest worry about sending him home they would keep us another night.

So Sam arrived, we gathered our things, and we finally drove the 30 minutes back to our house. I felt like the whole ordeal had lasted much longer than 2 days. I know it is minimal compared to what so many families experience, but it was still heartbreaking to have our sick child in a hospital bed. I am so grateful for the good medical care we have access to and that our sweet little Wes recovered so quickly!


  1. Poor Wesley! I feel really bad you had to go through all that stress, Kaitlyn and Sam!

  2. Wow, so glad you had the best care, advice, and that Wesley has such love at home. I didn't realize the stuff hurt. What a brave boy! Brave parents, too! It's hard to know what to do sometimes . . .

  3. Thanks for taking such good care of Wesley during his RSV.


    Grandpa Brady


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