This morning my father in law asked me at what point we take our little boy to the doctor. Little boy was oozing snot and coughing consistently a dry barky (but not toooo barky) cough all morning. I responded with all the knowledge I’d gleaned from my two and a half years of taking care of this little boy who seems to get respiratory infections easily that we probably wouldn’t take him to the doctor unless he had labored breathing.
We’ve got ibuprofen.
We have an albuterol inhaler prescribed for him.
We have a humidifier and plenty of liquids and room for him to “take it easy and rest”.
We’ve taken little boy to the doctor plenty of times for me to know the spiel and luckily, we have pretty much everything on hand that we would need. It’s just hard knowing exactly WHEN is too sick to really worry.
My little guy had RSV last year which is a pretty common, but very nasty respiratory virus. It can do a real number on little ones and it did a number on him, but he recovered. Viruses seem to settle into his chest a bit more easily than they do our little girl and he’s had some bouts that have been a bit worrisome.
The worst was a time I picked him from daycare and brought him home. I could see he didn’t feel well. I could hear his cough. I knew he had a little temperature. I put him on the sofa where he fell asleep and I spent the next hour cleaning up and paying bills.
But then I started thinking that his breathing looked funny. It was weird how his cute little belly was moving up and down and I pondered how odd it was that I’d never noticed it before. His breathing was quiet and slower than earlier when he’d first come home coughing and teary. It seemed like he just needed a really hearty nap.
But the tummy thing was odd. And it was bothering me.
And then I looked at the clock and thought about the day of the week (Friday, of course) and decided I’d err on the side of caution and take him up to the walk in clinic.
“Err on the side of caution?” HA!
I was so lucky that I did take him in. Turns out he had bacterial pnuemonia which progresses really quickly. In the hour that he’d napped on the sofa, he’d gone from a little boy that just looked sick to a boy that was beginning to really struggle to breathe.
At the clinic, they took one look at him – and they looked for things like flaring of his nostrils and his ribs pulling in when he inhaled – and immediately gave him a breathing treatment of albuterol. And then another one. And then after a few tests, he was given a shot of an antibiotic, prednisone and then a discussion ensued about whether he should be admitted or not.
We did take him home, but that night I almost wished we hadn’t. His breathing was SO mechanical and his chest moved up and down like it was attached to a respirator. It was scary to watch and I couldn’t sleep because I wanted to keep an eye on him.
He ended up being just fine. We administered everything exactly as we should and we kept a watchful eye on him and throughout it, his body responded valiantly, working very hard to do the needed work to breathe while his body worked on recovering from the infection.
It was scary.
And so now, whenever he gets sick, I google to remind myself of the symptoms and I look for the signs of labored breathing and I check on him frequently throughout the night and I look at the day of the week.
It’s Thursday and little boy is sick. He has a fever and a cough that got worse and worse. His breathing got quick and fast, but slowed down once the ibuprofen set in. It was past bedtime and he was so tired but couldn’t fall asleep because of the cough and so I googled and found “a miracle cure”.
Vicks Vapo-Rub on the soles of the feet? Really? I was skeptical, but I’ve used Vicks on myself in the past and remembered thinking my cough was looser. The directions said ages two and up so I slathered some on his chest and back and soles of his feet (heck, why not) while he brushed his teeth (he’s so dang sweet – who the heck thinks to brush their teeth when they feel like crap) and took him up to bed.
Within fifteen minutes he had stopped coughing enough to fall asleep. Or perhaps he fell asleep and stopped coughing? I rather think it was the first scenario.
Every once in a while he coughs and it’s still dry, but I think a little looser sounding. I expect that it might be a long night, but I’m also feeling a bit hopeful that there might be some good stretches of sleep for him and for us.
Ibuprofen at one am if needed and another little Vicks Rub as well. Humidifier pumping away like always. Gallons of water sloshing around in his body.
Wish us well! And everyone else out there with the sick kiddos in the middle of the night, we wish you well.