On the first hospital visit of flu season

By 15th November 2017 November 17th, 2017 No Comments

I’m not fighting with the registrar, exactly. We’re in A&E (of course we are – the start of flu season? We were bound to end up here eventually). It was a pretty typical lead up. Kai was working hard to just breathing and his chest was crackly. I’d been monitoring his o2 (92 – 95%, so slightly low), his heart rate (slightly fast), his respiratory rate (also fast) and his temp (37.9 – low grade fever).

Kai’s sick. Probably something like bronchiolitis.

I rang the nurses because I’d been oral suctioning after each cough. Not too often, because I didn’t want to increase his secretions. Just when he was having a tough time. What I wanted was a nurse to come do a nasal/trach suction (where they put a catheter down Kai’s nose and suction out the mucus he was having trouble shifting). I’d never done one and wasn’t about to do one maverick style now. Except that our nurses are a cautious bunch and instead of coming to do a suction, they were concerned with his o2 levels and suggested we take Kai to A&E.

While I’m always dubious of a ‘just in case’ hospital visit (dealing with the fear our team has and unnecessary escalation) I was keen at least to get swabs done to find out what was going on. So off we went. Kai rather magnificently timed a seizure which moved us from triage to majors (as always) and there we settled in.

Bloods, some suctioning, general monitoring – and yes, suspected broncolitis.


Now here’s where my polite but firm mama bear insistence comes in. They very politely told us that Kai’s white cell count is high and wanted to admit us, just for observation. We’d do repeat bloods and hopefully get discharged the next morning. It took a moment to absorb but when my brain finally kicked in here’s where it went:

  1. We only did bloods because Kai’s regular blood work is due. Not because they regularly do bloods with bronciolitis or with Kai’s general presentation/breathing concerns.
  2. White cell blood count could be high because of the elevated number of seizures (increased because: Kai is poorly) or because of bacterial infection.
  3. If it’s seizures, the white cell count will not go down tomorrow. Meaning they just want to watch Kai, just in case and we’ll be in the same position 12 hours from now.
  4. If it is a bacterial thing, the swabs will tell us. And the treatment is antibiotics, we have bottles at home for this very reason.
  5. We also have suction, o2 tanks and a stat monitor to manage symptoms.
  6. If we are admitted, Kai, as vulnerable as he is, is more likely to catch something else while we are here. Something worse, is my fear.
  7. The risk of sending us home is if Kai deteriorates rapidly overnight. The peak of bronciolitis is day two/three. So tomorrow and the day after.
  8. If Kai does deteriorate rapidly, we’re a short blue light ride from hospital but…
  9. Kai has a terminal disorder. We decided early on not to put Kai through extreme or invasive procedures to extend his life unnecessarily. So if we’re being rushed to hospital… there’s not much more they would do there than we would at home. IV Fluids, maybe. But IV Fluids in the face of a severe deterioration…

So. There is nothing they can do in hospital we can’t do at home. If we have clear parameters, we can come back if we need to. If we need to come back, it will be because Kai is very very poorly. The benefits of home outweigh the risks of leaving. I’ve talked to two registrars. We’re waiting on the consultant. I feel like we’re in here for just in case. The fear of the worst, really. Not because we need to be here.

I’m hoping we can go home. I essentially bought him in for nasal suctioning and the swab. I’ve already asked for an o2 plan and nasal/trach suction training.

We’ll see. Settling in and waiting for someone else to tell us we can go home is nails-on-blackboard mind numbing.

Fingers crossed.

Update: Took two hours but we’ve been discharged out of A&E and are going home, NOT up to the ward. We have some very clear parameters for what do and when, and for when to call an ambulance and go back. Which is to say, we got an O2 plan, and I got a run down on how to do nasal/trach suctioning. YES!

Here is the plan:

  • If Kai’s o2 stats drop anywhere near 92% we start o2, starting at 0.2L and go up as needed.
  • If his stats don’t go up, or Kai changes colour, we call an ambulance and blue light in.
  • If Kai has a fever we try calpol, and escalate to ibuprofen if need be.  If his temp doesn’t go down we try antibiotics and call the CCNs who no doubt will tell us to blue light it in.
  • If Kai is having a really rough time (increased heart rate or respiratory rate) and it doesn’t go down with the fever, we blue light in.

But you know what? While I absolutely would rush him back to hospital the merest hint of trouble, I’m pretty sure our little guy is going to be just fine at home!

Very very very glad we left. This is better for everyone.

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