Official diagnosis
by Karla ° Tuesday, November 11, 2008
We’d been in the hospital for almost six hours before Nate succumbed to his exhaustion and fell asleep in my arms, mouth open in a graceful arc of calmed slumber; the pureness of his salt-pale skin and mile-long lashes contrasting against the rhythm of his pounding heart thump-thump-thumping to the artificially medicated beat of lung-opening drugs.

Breathe sweet baby, breathe.

We weren’t at our regular hospital. We tried to go there after Nate’s provider called, concerned about his breathing, but the parking lot was full, and there was a line-up five cars deep to get in. Looking back at Nate in his carseat, I knew we couldn’t wait. His breathing was laboured, evidenced by the tugging and indrawn concave hollow of his trachea, his cough was worsening to the point of retching and throwing up and he was lethargic. All of the signs we’ve been warned about that require immediate hospital care.

Suddenly feeling overwhelmed with concern, and wishing I could stall time to figure out what do to next, I made an illegal turn on a one-way street and headed to the closest hospital in the next city, with Nate’s provider on the phone as my directional guide.

I felt like I was in a fog on contradiction hell. We’ve been gently warned that Nate's recurring breathing issues are probably tell-tale signs of asthma, but how could that be? Asthma does not run my family. Or Mark’s. And we’re both pretty athletic. Asthma just doesn’t make sense. Surely there’s another explanation?

I pulled up to the hospital, hands trembling with worry and mind overwhelmed with awe at the enormity and newness of the entire Emergency Room process. In place of manually written forms and retro-coloured walls were computers and floors sparkling under the glow of fluorescently lit modern décor and seating. And when I told them that Nate was there because I felt he needed another Ventolin mask treatment, the Respiratory Therapist administered the exact same medication that I had in my purse.

“Oh! Aren’t you going to do a mask treatment? We usually visit the hospital in Ajax, and they give him the misting Ventolin mask when his breathing gets like this.”

“No, we don’t do that here,” she replied matter of factly. “Studies show that proper diagnosis, treatment, and use of the aero chamber and puffers are just as effective.”

And cue me feeling like a total asshat.

The ER doctor wanted Nate to have another X-ray to rule out pneumonia, based on his history, and I refused it. X-rays make me nervous and in his young life, I wholeheartedly feel that Nate’s had more than his fair share of them. But then, while trying to reassuringly rub my arm, he guilted me into it, saying that he understood my hesitation, but given Nate's history and current symptoms, it was only prudent. Reluctantly agreeing, Nate and I both donned our reproductive part-protecting lead aprons and proceeded with his chest X-Ray.

The results, as described by the doctor, were totally delivered with an eyebrow-raising I TOLD YOU SO and concerns of pneumonia. Pediatrics was paged to take over his case.

And friends, this is where I am finally breathing a sigh of relief because the Pediatrician that we saw explained that chest X-rays in an infant of his size are half art and half science to interpret and that Nate does not have pneumonia and after almost a half hour of discussing his history, Nate has officially been diagnosed with asthma.

While I’m not jumping for joy about this diagnosis, I am relieved that we finally have an official diagnosis and can start proactively treating Nate under the guidance of a pediatrician who has welcomed him into his personal practice to monitor him on a regular basis in a non Emergency Room setting where random doctors with random opinions are dishing out random advice about how to medicate our son.

We drove home from the hospital under the falling darkness of night and as I glanced over at Nate, the moon shinning like fire in his hair, I remembered something that I once read from a very wise woman. It’s so simple, but so true.

Don’t try harder, try different.

And different, by chance, at a different hospital really, is what we did. Now, for the first time in a very long time, I feel OK. I feel like Nate is finally going to be OK.

We have an official diagnosis, at least, and we can proceed to treat it as such.

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Oh Karla, I'm so happy you have an answer, at least. Thinking of you and your family.
Posted by Anonymous Susan :  November 11, 2008

Excellent news Karla. Now, hopefully, your sleeps will be a little more peaceful and at ease.
Posted by Anonymous Krystle :  November 11, 2008

At least now you know what is wrong with Nate, he can now be treated at home with his own inhalers and nebulisers which will hopefully avoid any more emergency hospital admissions.
Thinking of you all,
Amanda xxxx
Posted by Blogger Amanda :  November 11, 2008

Glad you have a diagnosis. And just so that you know that someone with asthma can still enjoy being athletic, my brother had pretty severe asthma as a kid, and still suffers from it a bit as an adult. He now also regularly runs half-marathons.
Posted by Blogger Mary Lynn :  November 11, 2008

I'm sorry that Nate is having breathing issues. I wonder if something is triggering his asthma such as mold, dust mites, pollen, animal dander, etc? Worth looking into allergy testing to see if you can eliminate or prevent the triggers.
Posted by Anonymous Keri :  November 11, 2008

I am very happy that you have an answer. Hopefully things will only look up from here!
Posted by Blogger Tiffany :  November 11, 2008

I agree with Keri. We had to get rid of our carpets and cats and we had to dust weekly before my son was able to chuck out the inhalers. Asthma sucks rocks.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  November 11, 2008

I am so relieved that you finally have a diagnosis and you can move forward now ~ what a relief for you.
love and hugs Tabitha XXXX
Posted by Blogger Tabitha :  November 11, 2008

I am so glad you have answers. My husband was diagnosed with asthma at a very early age as well, and his mother questioning (differently) the doctors ultimately saved his life. He still has it, but it hasn't stopped him from being insanely athletic and also really adorable.

I'm glad you have an answer even though it was hard to get.

Isn't it strange how sometimes finding out it IS actually something can be so vindicating...even if the actual diagnosis isn't exactly welcome. Both my brother and I grew up with asthma, and still have it. There is so much they can do to control it these days, which has allowed us both to be extremely athletic. Although, during holiday visits home to the parents, we still fight over inhalers. Those things are better than gold to an asthmatic! Sending good thoughts and wishes for a speedy recovery to your little Nate.
Posted by Blogger Alison :  November 11, 2008

I wanted to post weeks before but was afraid of giving assvice; however, your description of Nate's condition sounds just like my daughter's back when her asthma first started. She was 10 mos at the time, now she is 3.
If it turns out to be viral based rather than allergic asthma than ask about singulair. It changed our life. We still use ventolin and steriods but singulair really decreased the severity of her condition overall.
Posted by Anonymous Moma :  November 13, 2008

I;m glad you finally got an answer Karla, even if it wasn't one that you were hoping for. It's so hard when we know something is wrong with our child and yet until you get a name you don't know what treatment to give. My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS which is an autism spectrum disorder and although it brakes my heart, now I can help him and I'm glad you too now know how to help Nate with hs asthma. Maybe he'll even out grow it. I've heard infants and toddlers often do.


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