Saturday, 15 August 2009

Want more personal space? Don a face mask...

Last night we were back at the emergency department for the third time since Joshua was taken there in an ambulance a fortnight ago. I am beginning to dread the familiar pink and purple chairs in the waiting room.

The first time, Joshua had a legitimate injury and was seen by the emergency department staff, eventually.

The second time, Joshua was sent down to the GP end, which basically means I was worried over nothing important enough to warrant the trip... it turned out he had gastroenteritis, almost certainly caught from someone else waiting to see a doc the first visit. The waiting room for the GP end was filled with patients with "flu-like illness" (translation: "it costs too much to test all you snotty, coughing kids for swine flu and we don't want to freak anyone out so we're not gonna bother with calling a spade a shovel, we're just gonna use a euphemism and hope no-one really wants a diagnosis or anything specific like that.") The doctor who saw Joshua said delightedly, "You're the first patient I've seen tonight I didn't have to wear a mask for." Hmmm. Wonder how long it'll take until we both fall ill with this euphemism?

This third time, I came home from taking the girls on a playdate to be greeted at the door by Jeff saying, "I think Joshua has swine flu. You're going to have to take him back to the emergency department." Oh yay! Just what I needed... But I had to admit, when Jeff showed me the list of symptoms for swine flu, and Joshua's list of (what I had thought were only) whingy complaints, they did match up well. He had a low fever (38.3), coughing, nausea, headache, runny nose previously, lethargy, general soreness and now his breathing was getting laboured and he had a slight wheeze. This time we decided to wait to get take away pizza before I drove off with Josh to PMH. I am so glad we did. I didn't get home again until after 1am, and Joshua didn't come home again at all last night.

Being the good citizen that I am, as soon as we arrived I asked for two face masks and had them "in situ" (according to Joshua's case notes) before the triage nurse was ready to call us. One of the funniest things I have noticed over the last 48 hours is how people tend to stand just a touch further back when you are wearing a face mask. It seems to only be about 10cm or so, but it's quite noticeable, because absolutely everyone does it. Feeling crowded? All you need to do is wear a face mask and your acquaintances - and good friends - will no longer be quite so willing to get in your face. It's quiet relaxing, actually, for an introvert like me.

Unlike those patients who had possibly infected Joshua the weekend before, Joshua's symptoms were bad enough that we didn't get shunted off to the GP end of things. Joshua was bad enough that we qualified to see the emergency department staff again. I am not sure if that's a thing to be happy about, though. At least it meant it wasn't a wasted trip. Not at all, as it turns out.

The doctor who saw Joshua saw that he had a little depression on his stomach which apparently to the trained eye indicates an asthma or asthma-like problem with breathing. Josh was given prednisilone (a steroid to decrease inflammation in his lungs) and then had three lots of ventolin over the next hour or so (to open out his airways and make him exciteable and jittery, as if he really needed another sleepless night... sigh). Around 11:30pm the doctor decided he had improved, but not enough to go home, and that it was best to admit him to ward 4E "Observation" overnight. Otherwise, we'd only be going home at 4am or something anyway. Of course, just because the doctor had made a decision, didn't mean Joshua was moved straight away. It was just before 1am before we were asked to get his things together to walk the 20m to the ward, lie him down in the blessedly dark room, and finally let him relax enough to sleep. With several precautionary "drive safely" comments, I was allowed to leave him there to drive home.

This morning when I rang PMH, they were able to confirm that Joshua had responded well to the medication, and I could come in and bring him home. It was over 24 hours since I had brought him in that I was able to walk out again, this time replete with the confidence that comes from knowing you did the right thing bringing your child to the emergency department.

Now I am just hoping (& praying) that the overnight stay in hospital provides a nice counterpoint ending to our trip together in the ambulance. Both were firsts for Joshua. Neither have been great for my peace of mind, except in that I have been reminded of the complete assurance I have of everlasting safety in the arms of my gracious and loving God, who has granted me eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. Compared to that "good news", what's the bad news of one or two, or even three, little "emergencies"?

Did I mention I also had to call the police in the last fortnight? But that's another story. One I am also glad to say I am confidently leaving in the hands of my mighty and powerful and omniscient Sovereign God, hands that reach out to me as I reach up to Him in prayer.

As the psalmist proclaimed in Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."


argsmommy said...

Poor dear! I'm so glad he is home and is doing better. What a week you guys have had. I will continue to keep your family in my prayers.

Meredith said...

Oh my Sharon.

I am guessing you didn't make it to PWC then?

When R had to go to PMH for the first time, we quipped as we left that at least it meant he was on file now which would be useful should there be another time. (And as we went there with hime six months later we were able to say, "Well at least he is on file this time!) It's good to have a file for each child at PMH!!

But quips aside, you must be feeling very drained. I trust you had a good day at church today and will pray for a week of smoother sailing.

Take care.

Sharon said...

I made it for the second half of PWC, but I wore a face mask. Not that I have any symptoms... and there were other people there coughing so I had to war with my tendency to feel self-righteous in my pride.

My mum arrived yesterday and she read about a hundred picture books to the girls this afternoon so I could have a three hour nap. We went to church together this morning & left the rest quarantined at home. I feel much better now. It is great to realise that God had this in mind when Mum was booking her tickets over a month ago!

~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

I'm so glad that all seems to be ending well. I just saw a tweet from John Piper, quoting Rutherford, (on Twitter):
When cast in the cellars of affliction, remember the great King keeps his wine there. (Rutherford)

Taste and see that the Lord is good, right?

Sharon said...

That's funny, Amy!