Over the past 2 months, we have been at the hospital or in the Dr's Office with Reece. It all started at the end of December 2011. Reece got the common cold, nothing much, just your typical running nose, sneezing, and a cough. Well it lasted about 2 weeks and she wants getting better. I did what I could to make her comfortable and she got plenty of fluids and rest. The beginning of Jan my dad found out he had pneumonia and pleurisy, not contagious but 2 sick people in the house it was rough. Well it started around mid January Reece’s cough was getting really bad, she would cough so hard she was making herself sick and she looked like she was working hard to breath.
January 20th Reece went downhill fast, that night she was really sick, she coughed all night long and was miserable. She had been coughing for 3 weeks now and it wasn’t getting any better. She woke up that morning and was happy but soon hit a brick wall. She started coughing and I noticed for the first time that her stomach was lurching and when she would breath I could see her ribs. (its called rib retractions, I didn’t know this at the time). She was also wheezing and I could hear it every time she would breath. I took Reece down stairs with me and she fell asleep on my lap, I took her up to her room and laid her on the bed. I was so nervous about leaving her I would check on her about every 5-10 minutes to check her breathing. After she woke up she was crying and I knew she was hurting. Her breathing got worse and she began coughing again. I ran outside to tell Clinton I needed his help and when I got back in within minutes Reece began throwing up. I then called the walk in clinic and took her in right away. She was so lethargic and weak, her breathing was really wheezy and she was struggling. They checked her O2 sats and she was at 90%, average is around 96-100%. Not sure what was wrong the Dr wanted to admit her to the hospital and monitor her over night. We got to the hospital and they started IV, X-ray, labs, and you name it. She was so exhausted and it was heartbreaking. They had to put oxygen on her b/c she was so low and needed some help. She got breathing treatments every 4 hours. This simple cold was the start of a long and stressful couple months, and possibly the next 4 years of her life.
After 24 hours in the hospital Reece had improved tons and was feeling and looking really good. We were released home the next day and she started on Albuteral breathing treatments as needed. For the next 10 days Reece cough was still around. She coughed and coughed but it never got worse nor did it get better. On Jan 30th it was a night without any sleep. She coughed hard all night and it was scary, she started wheezing and was having rib retractions. I was giving her treatments every 4 hours and she would last an hour before she began to cough again. It was Tuesday morning January 31st, Reece woke up at 7:30 and I gave her a treatment, she then started coughing by 8:30 and didn’t stop. I called the Dr and we got in to the office at 11:45. Reece started throwing up before we left and threw up 7 times by the time we got to the hospital. At the Dr Office, her oxygen level was down to 88% on room air and with oxygen she was at 90%. Dr Thompson came in and said we need to put her back in the hospital. So we headed over and the rollercoaster started again. Test after test, lots of crying and one sad little girl. After 2 days all the test came back negative for, flu, RSV, pneumonia, and whooping cough. So our thoughts we led to “reactive airway disease” or asthma. Children under age 5 who have symptoms of asthma are diagnosed as Reactive airway disease because they typically grow out of it.
Reece was in the hospital for 5 days, this was because she couldn’t keep her oxygen above 94% without the help of oxygen, and while she would sleep she was drop to 85-88%. The first day she was on 4 letters of oxygen, which is a LOT for a small child. We slowly lowered her oxygen every day and finally she was off oxygen all together and we could go home. Again we were sent home with Albuteral and she would get treatments as needed.
We had planned to take a trip down to Mesa on Feb. 5-16th but Reece wasn’t discharged until the 4th and the Dr advised us not to fly for the next 2 weeks. Reece was doing well and back to her bouncy self! We had been home less than a week and my dad began coughing again. He went to the Dr and loan behold he had Influenza A “The Flu”, the kind you don’t want to get. Before we knew what was wrong he had been around us for a couple days coughing and we were all exposed. We stayed far away and kept to the basement but it wasn’t enough. A week later I started feeling sick and actually didn’t think I had the flu but after 5 days I knew that I did. The entire week Reece and Turner were up and down all night, all this time i was feeling horrible but had to take care of my babies. Reece began her coughing fits again and Turner was having trouble sleeping and was really fussy. On Sunday January 12 he woke up with a fever and a cough. I was so worried he had the flu so I took him to the walk-in clinic. We came back with an antibiotic for an ear infection! But the Dr said that the influenza test is not perfect and it could be a false so watch him and he might need to get checked again. Turner ran a fever for 3 days and I was really nervous, Reece’s cough was getting worse and by Thursday she had coughed almost 12 straight hours. Friday afternoon we took both the kids back to the Dr. Reece’s lungs sounded great and her oxygen levels were at 97%. Turner had a running nose and his ears were great, no fever and the kids checked out well. We came home and Reece just wasn’t acting normal she didn’t want to eat, she was really clingy and by 6pm she wanted to go to bed, this made me nervous. 2 hours later she woke up coughing and she was struggling to breath, we gave her a treatment and then she threw up all over. She had started running a fever earlier and my fear was she had the flu. She was really warm and coughed all night and threw up 2 more times. At 2:30am I called the 24 hour nurse hotline, from our conversation we decided to take her to the ER. I was so nervous she had Influenza and with her breathing issues I knew she would get really sick. We got to the ER and her oxygen level was at 88%. She was really warm and had a fever of 102.9. Reece was such a trooper and did so well. They swabbed her nose and sure enough she had the “flu”. The Dr wanted to watch her for a while so see how her oxygen levels were and with oxygen she would only get up to 90% so they decided to admit her. It was sad but I knew she needed that extra help. She was miserable and I felt like crap. We finally got to a room upstairs around 6am, Reece had fallen asleep. I couldn’t sleep with everything going on and my body was aching and my eyes were burning and my head was pounding. I called Clinton around 7:30 and asked if he could come so I could go home and get some sleep.
(this was Reece on day 2, 24 hours after we were admitted)
I rushed home to find Turner screaming. He was running a fever of 101.1. I decided that he needed to be seen and I knew it was his turn, he had the flu. I took him to the walk-in clinic that morning. They gave him some Tamiflu to help shorten the duration of the flu. My poor babies were so sick and I was still not well. I was torn; I wanted to stay home and take care of Turner but also wanted to be at the hospital with Reece. I was sick and needed sleep as well, i han't slept in 6 days and my body was exhausted, it was a real struggle. I listened to my wonderful husband and stayed home and slept all day long and all night. The next morning Sunday, I got up and didn’t feel great but was good enough to go and relieve Clinton for a while. He came home and called me a couple hours later and said he was throwing up and had a fever of 102. This stuff spreads like wild fire, 1st my dad then me, the kids and now Clinton. I knew I had to toughen up b/c my mom and I were the only ones left who could take care of the kids and I had to stay at the hospital with Reece. When I saw Reece that morning for the 1st time after I left her it had been 24 hours later and I cried. She looked so sick, her eyes were puffy and purple, and she was pale and just lifeless. It was the worst feeling I’d ever had seeing my child in such conditions. I knew I had to be strong and keep my emotions down; she was getting good care and going to get better. It was long day and we spent the morning watching movies. We were moved down to another room and our goal was to have Reece off her oxygen by the morning.
Monday was my birthday! It wasn’t what I had planned for but things happen. Reece and I slept fairly well and she woke up and looked so much better. Her eyes were open and she had color back, i could tell she was feeling better. Dr Thompson saw us that morning and told us she wanted to send us home later in the day as long as things were looking better. We took Reece off oxygen and watched her progress. She was able to stay between 92-96% which was GREAT. It was the longest days just waiting around for the final say on if we could go home. We were home by 6pm and Reece was just as excited to leave as I was.
We have been home for 5 days and Reece is doing really well. She is off all her medication and just has to take an inhaled steroid, which is much better than an oral one. We are scheduled to see the Pulmonologist in 2 weeks and I’m nervous and excited at the same time. Dr Thompson doesn’t suspect but wants to have Reece tested for “Cystic Fibrosis”. Which is a Lung disease that is inherited by both parents; she has some of the signs but is not on the high end. Dr Thompson just wants to rule out as much as possible. It scares me because there is no cure and it’s something that can be rough to live with. The worst part is the life expectancy is age 37, which really hit me hard. I have been really worried all week about this and the worst thing is we won’t know until we see the specialist in Spokane because she can’t be tested until then. I know I shouldn’t worry about this and she is probably ok, but it’s always scary when your child might have an incurable disease.
Reece is such a special little girl and we love her so much. She has endured so many things in the last few months and has been so good. She is so tough and I’m so proud of her, she amazes me every day. I hope and pray that she will continue to fight through all the challenges she will face throughout her life. She is a beautiful daughter of God and we are so blessed to have her.