Last night, a dear friend sent a text to tell me that her daughter was in the hospital. She said she needed my expert help. As a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C), and mom of 3 grown kids with asthma, I knew I could help.
For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know that my kids were hospitalized 12 times when they were younger (mostly due to pneumonia but once from smoke from a forest fire.)
So, I have had a little experience with kids in the hospital.
Things I wished I would have know when my kids were first diagnosed:
- When should I take my child to the hospital? Nemours hospital has a section called "When to Go to the ER if Your Child Has Asthma." Please read it!
- I once heard a doctor say if you wonder if.....and your next thought is "take my child to the emergency room", then go! The hospital has experts that can treat your child. If they just need to be treated and released, they will do that. But if they need to be admitted, you will be soooo glad you took them in to the emergency room.
- Ask questions! What is that pill? How often should she take it? What are the side effects? What is the IV for? What are you adding to the IV? What are you giving her for a breathing treatment? (I once had a new respiratory therapist give my daughter the adult dose instead of the child dose for an Albuterol treatment.) How do I know if she's getting better or worse? What should I look for?
- Do you have a tooth brush? (Yes, the nurse or CNA can bring you a toothbrush, toothpaste and even a pair of scrubs if you are staying the night!) One time, I came to the ER after work with my son, and I was still wearing a skirt and high heels from work. I was not about to spend all night in those! So, the nurse found a pair of scrubs, slippers, and a toothbrush and toothpaste for me.
Let people know your child is in the hospital. When friends and neighbors ask what they can do to help, tell them! Ask them to pick or drop off other kids at school. Ask it they can get some bread and milk while they are at the grocery store.
Let your child's teacher know. During one of the 12 hospitalizations for my kids, my son's 1st grade teacher came to see him at the hospital and brought a toy for him. Let all of your kid's teachers know that they have a sibling in the hospital. Your other children will need a little extra love and attention during that time.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. Do some deep breathing to relax, have a good cry if you need one, eat a little chocolate.
It's hard, but you can get through it!