Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Posting from pediatric ICU

Wow. The last two days have been a blur.

Yesterday morning, Josh and I were lounging in bed, the kids were coming in and out, eating cereal and watching a movie. Pretty typical Sunday morning for us, if we don't have plans.

Around 10 Josh heard Nora start crying in the living room. He went out and a few minutes later Kate came back and told me that Josh needed me. It didn't sound urgent so I got up and was going to use the restroom. Instead, Josh came running in the room with a limp, gray Nora in his arms.

I immediately screamed for him to call 911 and bent over Nora, watching her breathing get slower and slower. I was panicked because I couldn't remember how to do CPR on a baby. Josh was on the phone with the paramedics and I was asking the kids what had happened. Did she fall off something!? They said no, she just fell down. I got so nauseated and ran to the bathroom and threw up bile.

Thank the good Lord above we literally live right around the corner from a fire station with a medic unit. They were there in under 5 minutes and immediately gave Nora oxygen, attempted to get an IV in several different places on her arms. When they couldn't find a vein, they said they were going to have to drill through her kneecap in attempt to get one. They tried. Twice. I was back in the bathroom throwing up again.

When I was done, I ran out to the living room to ask the kids once again what exactly had happened. And that's when I saw and knew exactly what had gone down.

Nora plays at the TV console, and laying open on top of it was an almost empty bottle of prescription sleeping pills. A prescription we had just filled 3 days prior and had 45 tablets. Now, there were only 7 in the bottle. I ran back with the bottle to the paramedics and told them she had to have eaten them. Then I threw up again.

The medics were frantically trying to get her in the ambulance and I bolted out of the bathroom, into the ambulance and we were off. We had been driving for a short time when the guys in back yelled something, and suddenly we were speeding with the lights and siren on. I was praying with all my heart, so sick and nauseated, the image of my usually rambunctious girl laying there, basically lifeless.

The docs at the hospital were stumped, had never had a case like this with that medication. For reference, my 8 year old daughter takes 1.5 pills a night, and Nora ingested somewhere between 30-40. Her heart rate was at 6 and kept having periods where it was stopped for what felt like an eternity but was probably 10-15 seconds at a time. It always started up again, but they had the defibrillator on her just in case. She was completely unconscious and unresponsive. Didn't even cry as they poked her more, trying to get an IV in. Her blood pressure was also extremely low... Like 14 over something and normal is 80.

They finally ended up intubating her so the ventilator was breathing for her. They had given Nora two doses of a drug that would hopefully stop/counteract the sleeping pills, but neither worked.  At that point they consulted with the pediatric ICU at the big Doernbecher's children's hospital and the attending physician accepted her case and told us we would be transferred. They sedated her so she wouldn't injure herself on the ventilator.

They wanted to life flight her, but it was too foggy, so Doernbecher sent down a PANDA transport. Basically an ambulance with full life support capabilities. Josh and I decided to ride together in the truck, following the ambulance, since we weren't allowed in the back with Nora anyway. As we were walking to the truck, the ambulance took off with lights and sirens blasting. I can't even describe the horrifying and sickening feeling it is, to know your baby is in there, and you may not see her alive again.

The 45 minute drive to the hospital was long and surreal. It didn't feel real; this couldn't really have happened!! We had a prayer chain going, and I *felt* a deep peace, knowing Nora was in God's hands and that there were so many precious people praying for us.

We got to Doernbecher and walked in as they were settling Nora in, after doing a CT scan. She was still unresponsive and pale, but her heart rate had come up a bit. And she did cry periodically,  on the ride from our house to the hospital and in the ER, but she definitely wasn't awake or lucid. But at least I knew she was alive.

Once at Doernbecher they checked her out, but were just as clueless as to what to do. Multiple calls to poison control and lots of googling later, they decided  all they could do was help her ride it out and make sure she didn't stop breathing and that her heart didn't stop. She was still sedated and intubated.

Later that evening she started to come out of sedation and was wildly thrashing around, trying to stand up, trying to pull the tube out, etc.  The doctors were actually quite glad to see that, but they had to give her more sedation three more times because they weren't comfortable taking her off the vent yet.

At long last her breathing and heart rate stabilized enough that she could come off the ventilation and have the tube removed.  As they took it out I was standing near by, and she woke up, opened her eyes, saw me and stood up, lunging for me! I was so incredibly grateful that she recognized me, that she was strong enough to stand, and that she was fighting.

I got to hold her after that, despite all the wires coming off of her.  We snuggled and it was amazing; the best feeling ever.  In the wee hours of the morning her heart rate, blood pressure and breathing all came up to normal levels and stayed that way.  They discussed letting us go home that day, but Nora was still way too groggy.  She would only wake up for 2-3 minutes and then conk out again.  They wanted to see her fully awake and walking around before they let us go.

So we got moved out of ICU and down to a normal room.  Throughout the night she steadily improved, all her vitals were good, and I started seeing "Nora" come back.  Her eyes, although very heavy and sleepy, had a twinkle and she smiled a bit more.  By the time the doc came in around 9am, she had been up and walking around, eaten a bowl of strawberries and yogurt, and was waving at the nurses.

(It took me a couple days to write this, so we are home now.)

We got discharged this morning, and it truly is a miracle.  Nora is 100% back to her usual, normal self.  The kids were in shock, because they had seen her at the hospital yesterday and she was sleeping/grumpy and not herself at all.  They keep asking how Nora got better so quickly. :-)

We had so many people praying for us, and I am incredibly grateful for those prayers.  I am also incredibly thankful that we still have sweet Nora with us, that she didn't sustain any brain damage, nervous system damage, or any long lasting side effects.  You'd never know how close to death she was by just looking at her, except that there are pokes and holes and tape residue everywhere. :-P

Anyway, we are back home and Nora is as spunky as ever, climbing, running and playing like nothing ever happened.

Obviously while I was at the hospital I didn't have HCG food there, although my good friend did bring some up the first night, but I couldn't stomach it.  I had two salads, some Mike&Ike's, and an apple at the hospital. I have no idea where my weight will be tomorrow, because I didn't drink hardly any water, and they didn't have any fat free dressing.  But you know what? I don't even care.

All I care about is that my kiddos, all four of them, are safe and sound and healthy.  I'm glad I didn't fall off the wagon completely, and I plan to continue on, no matter what the scale says tomorrow.

So that's what we did; how was your 3 day weekend? :-P


  1. we were in the middle of a meeting when they suddenly stopped it and read your text out loud...I froze when your name was read. and now I cry as I read this update!!!!! Our whole church was praying for her and you and Josh! So glad she is ok! Life is fragile. Puts things in perspective!!!

  2. OMG RA what a terrifying/wonderful story. I am so happy Nora has come out of this perfectly fine, healthy and happy. But what a horror she, you and everybody had to go through.
    Thank God for miracles.
    All of this goes to show you what is important and how fast things can change.
    I am not saying your weight and feeling good about yourself isn't important but it is a different level of important.
    Keep doing everything that makes you have a happy life, a better day, if that is dieting to get to a size or number do it. If that is eating m&m's and chocolate cake do it. We never know how many tomorrows we have and I know I would love to have that piece of cake before I go.
    Love, kisses, hugs and prayers to all of you. MB

  3. RA - it is like a horror story and you capture the panic in your writing. I am so happy you had so much prayer support. I didn't know what was going on, but I did pray for you. And, you're right, food/diet and our physical looks are not the most important thing in life!!
    I am so grateful to God that Nora is fine!