Though Luke is doing much better now, two weeks ago he came down with a cold, by the afternoon his wheezy breaths were too much to ignore so off to the doctors we went.
Our first bout with breathing problems happened a year ago last February we met our parents in Florida for a little winter reprieve. The trip turned into a nightmare just a few days after it started. Noah quickly came down with a cold and was breathing rapidly enough that we first called our doctor in Utah for advice and then took Noah to a local clinic. The doctor there thought he had pneumonia and an ear infection. Though I noticed his feet were a slight hue of blue we put our trust in the doctor, picked up the prescriptions and went home for a night of little sleep. By morning we were in a nearby hospital’s ER, having a battery of tests run, x-rays and then watching in horror as two people held Noah down while a third tried and failed and then tried again to get an IV in him. Eventually, the doctor returned to say that they feared Noah had RSV and that the transport team from Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital was en route to pick him up. Why, I asked, could we not bring him ourselves? His response brings me chills to this day. “The intensive care unit has their own transport vehicle so that they can monitor him.”
After what seemed like hours the team arrived and loaded Noah into the back of the ambulance. Erin and I rode up front could watched our helpless son with a little oxygen mask over his face on small TV screen. Our parents followed us in the car. When we arrived we were led through what seemed like endless hallways to a small cluttered room with a large sliding glass door. We were told we needed to wear gowns and masks at all times in the room. Noah was placed in a bed that resembled more of a lion’s cage at the circus than a crib for a child. The room next to us was home to a little girl who was waiting for a new heart. This put our predicament into perspective a little bit. But no matter how small your problems seem in the shadow of others, in the moment of your crisis your problems are still monumental. In all Noah spent three days in the Pediatric ICU. The staff at the hospital was amazing, as were the staff at the Clubhouse next door which gave us a place to get away from the beeping machines and grab a shower and a nap, free of charge.
Almost exactly a year later I was on my way home from a month in Vermont, after my father’s passing, while Erin was taking Noah to the doctor’s. It was determined that he had pneumonia and was given the normal list of antibiotics. The following Tuesday night another trip to the doctor revealed that his oxygen level was low enough to require assistance and an order was placed to have home health drop off a home oxygen tank. The familiar hum of the oxygen machine soon filled the house; my father had had the same machine sitting in his bedroom just a month earlier. It was not a welcome sound. Noah has the resilience and optimism of my father; he seemed un-bothered by the “medicine” in his nose or the tube that snaked down his chest and between his legs, turning into a fifty foot tail as he called it.. He rarely complained and went about the day as best he could in the condition that he was in. Within a week’s time he was back to his normal self.
Luke and I are sitting in a tiny exam room, trying to keep ourselves entertained while we wait for the doctor to come in and tell us what he has seen on the x-ray that was just taken using some sort of medieval torture device they certainly found in the basement, where they place the children on a board with two holes cut in it for their legs then lift their arms straight above their heads and strap this plastic tube like thing around their torso and then lock them into place. They do this to limit the amount of radiation exposure, the idea being the less they move, the better the chance of a good x-ray.
The doctor came in, pulled up the x-rays and showed me where in fact the pneumonia was in Luke’s lungs. Not that I really understood the picture. He told me he would need breathing treatments along with an antibiotic.
“Do you have a nebulizer at home”? he asked
“Yes,” I said. “Unfortunately this is not our first rodeo with this sort of thing.”