Monday, July 9, 2012

Mud Pit

Remember my last post about off-roading? Well, we hit a mud pit. Norah is back in the PICU.

I arrived at South Davis Sunday afternoon to find Norah not doing well. Her eCO2 (end tidal carbon dioxide) was pretty high (in the 60's, when normal is something like 35-45). As a result, her skin color was purplish. She was really struggling to breathe despite her vent settings being bumped up really high, and she couldn't get comfortable or calm. Her RT and nurse had been in there for the last half hour or so, had paged the on-call doctor, and were getting ready to call me. Norah had a look of terror on her face that I know all too well. This is her pleading "help me" face. I tried to soothe her, but she continued to plead directly to me. Her eyes say so much. She clearly needed to go back to the PICU.

South Davis Metro Fire came to our rescue again, transporting us to PCMC. I rushed behind the ambulance, driving separately. The charge nurse from South Davis rode along with them though, and for that I am so grateful. The manual bagging she required for the entire trip caused her eCO2 to skyrocket to 125. By the time she got up to the PICU, she was doing what is sometimes clinically referred to as "guppy breathing", and was frantically arching her back and flailing her limbs. She wasn't moving much air in her lungs, and the staff wasted zero time getting to work.

The moment I saw her nurse's face, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. Andrea. We love Andrea. She knows Norah; she cares deeply for her. Andrea took a moment to hug me before she jumped back into the chaos. I'm not sure how I managed not to cry. Then I saw more familiar faces: doctors, respiratory therapists, more nurses, even the clerk. Word spread quickly that Norah was back, and there were so many people coming to check on her. They were all so worried. I got a million messages on my phone, and I am just so thankful to all of you for lending us your hearts during the drama.

After some sedation, we got her settled in. Her eCO2 slowly descended. They played with her ventilator settings, placed an IV in each foot, drew some labs, and started some new medications. She is one tough cookie. She fought the sedation a little bit, and a couple times reached for my face or something to play with. And even more amazing, multiple people said that with the way Norah was when they first brought her into the PICU, they were surprised that she didn't code. But she kept fighting. I'll never forget watching the frenzy of everyone working on Norah, but Andrea was there, locking eyes with Norah, doing everything she could to soothe her and talk her through it. We weren't alone, and Norah knew it. Norah knew she was in a safe place for what she needed at that moment. They helped prevent Norah from coding, but even more-so, Norah is so brave and so strong to have fought through it all and come out on the winning end.

So my heart is a little sore right now. She is doing better, though is still having fitful moments where she struggles. They're doing everything their skilled hands and brilliant minds can do to help her get comfortable and get better. I just don't know what I'd do without my PICU peeps.
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