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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Turning lemons into lemonade

(Shutterstock image)

Many of you who are regular blog readers know that my kids have been hospitalized 12 times for asthma (thanks to pneumonia and/or smoke from forest fires.)

Over the years, people have said, "Don't you wonder Why Me?"
 No, not really. It is what it is, the kids inherited allergies and asthma from Hubby and I. So there you have it. It's my job to deal with it. 

In fact, because of what we have been through, we have been able to help MANY families over the years. I am very familiar with asthma triggers, signs and symptoms of an asthma attack, asthma medications, how the environment affects asthma, etc.
I am also familiar with hospital monitors and oxygen levels. This came in handy this weekend when we received a phone call that a family member had fallen. We took Family Member to the Emergency Department to get her checked out. While there, we noticed Family Member's oxygen level was dropping down to 76 (you should be close to 100.) If my kids had never been hospitalized, I wouldn't have known to watch the oxygen level on the monitor!
We called for the nurse and asked her to start some oxygen on Family Member. The doctor came back later to tell us the x-ray test results, and I then told him that Family Member's oxygen level was dropping to the 70's and 80's. He turned the oxygen off to see how she would do at room air and told me to watch her oxygen level. (From our experience, it's common for the nurse or doctor to turn the oxygen off and see if the  patient does well on room air. If so, they can go home.)  
So, my focus then was to watch her oxygen level. Every time she would nod off to sleep, her oxygen level would drop. Suddenly, the nurse came in with a CNA and they were ready to discharge Family Member. I said, "Wait a minute! The Doctor told me to watch her oxygen level. She is still dropping down into the 80's." 
The Nurse was NOT happy. She said, "What do you want us to do? Admit her?!" I said, "I don't know. All I know is that it's unsafe for her to leave here with low oxygen levels. Can we get an oxygen tank for her to take home?"  She looked at me and laughed and said, "At 11:00 on a Friday night?!"
She left the room to get the doctor. I kept watching the monitor and the oxygen level kept dropping. Shortly after that, I heard the nurse coming down the hall with the doctor. I could hear her explaining the situation. The Doctor looked at me as he came into the room. I said, "Here's the thing - I have 3 kids with asthma. They have been hospitalized 12 times, so I am very familiar with oxygen levels. Every time Family Member drops off to sleep, her oxygen level drops into the 80's." Just then, as if on cue, Family Member fell asleep, and her oxygen level started to drop.
The doctor saw the monitor and the oxygen level dropping and said, "Let's admit her." 
Phew! I was so worried. One time when Son #2 was discharged from a hospitalization for his asthma, the respiratory therapist said, "Now, I want you to check on him throughout the night. Don't just let him sleep because he has finally stopped coughing and can rest. With breathing problems, your oxygen level drops and drops and drops while you sleep, until some people just stop breathing and die. " 
I have NEVER forgotten that. 
So, I was really relieved when they admitted Family Member. I knew she would be hooked up to the machine that would monitor her breathing all night long. In fact, her oxygen level DID NOT improve the next day, so she was discharged from the hospital with orders to have an oxygen tank at home.

Once she came home, the company that provided oxygen met us at the house and brought the oxygen tank and tubing. Since we had used oxygen over the years with our kids, we felt comfortable in setting up the tank and hooking up the tubing. 
And all of this experience came from having 3 kids with asthma, and 12 hospitalizations. See? We took lemons and made lemonade!


  1. Wow, I hope your relative feels better soon! Thoughts and prayers out to her!

  2. I'm now dating seriously. I've known him since first grade and he has autism too! He has allergies but not asthma, and last night I he saw me doing a nebulizer treatment, I was the first time he'd ever seen one. It was so cute his curiousity!

    1. Haha, tell him he better get used to seeing it!

      At this point, you can probably put your nebulizer together in your sleep, right?

      I know ours got a LOT of use over the years. It went with us to Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, and grandma's house!

    2. Yep, been using it regularly since I was four. We decided that if we were ever to have kids, we'd adopt. He's a CF carrier, which means that half of our potential children would have CF. Plus add in the fact that we're both autistic and you don't get a good gene pool. Oh well, there's plenty of kids out there that need to be adopted though.

    3. I love your scientific mind, I can tell you have thought this out. I hope you will be very happy! :)

  3. I ended up in A&E on Thursday night with an acute severe asthma attack. Having read this post, and in retrospect, I realise just how much my parents understand hospitals now.

    I was at the ice rink when it started which is literally a minute or two's drive from the hospital so my dad knew it would be quicker to drive than wait for an ambulance. By the time we got there I was literally unable to speak but my dad told the doctors and nurses what was happening, what I'd had, what I take, and about my latex allergy.

    He knew to drive the wheelchair backwards, something which is minimal but very important!

    He knew where everything was in the hospital room, and when my second neb was over and I'd just been breathing oxygen for 15 minutes or so and needed to go to the toilet, my dad turned the O2 off at the wall.

    He knew how to drive the wheelchairs, turn the oxygen off and on and alter it, put the BP cuff on, tell me what was what every time something beeped or took a reading, how to reposition the bed and put the sides down and up, how to re-connect the monitor when I accidentally knocked it out.. He also knew exactly what to tell the docs and nurses, and which button to press when I deteriorated after the first nebs and the pred.

    Some might say it is sad that we've been in hospitals enough times to know all of this and more, but I see it as a blessing. If I had had one of my friends' parents there they probably wouldn't have had a clue about any of it!

    I've seen plenty of people try to drive the wheelchairs forwards and in the UK's hospitals they just don't go that way. Seen too many elderly patients being banged into doorways, hassled staff, and confused patients because their offspring don't know that the wheelchairs are backwards-driven only!

    1. Sounds like your dad is turning lemons into lemonade too.

      Asthma can be tricky to control at times. And sometimes we do end up the Emergency Department of being admitted to the hospital.

      So, it's VERY helpful to know how hospital run, how the equipment works, etc. Sounds like your dad is very experienced. You're lucky to have a great dad that takes very good care of you! :)