Parenting · Zaza in PICU

The Zaza Saga… from the start

Look. She’s just fine.

I took Zaza to the doctor last week. She had caught her sister’s latest cold-like sickness, and I was trying to be super cool about it. I am not one to rush to the doctor, and I am not one to overreact. Actually, that’s not the whole truth… I would secretly love to overreact. I would love to have a doctor or nurse reassure me with every cough and sniffle, every tummy-hurt and goose egg.

But I also like thinking of myself as a rational person. And I hate – really hate – wasting people’s time. So I am generally patient when my kids are sick. I am a “let the fever do its work” kind of parent.

After several days of a low-grade fever last week, I found myself spending a lot of time watching Zaza’s chest for any sign of a quickened breath. Listening to her with a stethoscope (which I realize- I have no training to understand what I hear) to see if her sickness was going to her lungs. You see — they told us to be careful with her for 6 months to let her lungs recover. Viruses in lungs are a no-go right now.

So I kept the essential oils diffusing, the snuggle setting on “all you can snuggle” and the ibuprofen on hold.

Let the fever do its work. Be super cool.

She finally broke me when she told me her ear hurt. Well, broke me enough to call our doctor’s office to run the situation by a professional. I have never called in and had them NOT tell me to come in. But I want the reassurance that I’m not overreacting. I don’t want to waste their time.

Of course, the nurse told me to bring her in, especially because of Zaza’s recent history.

We got an appointment for 15 minutes later and walked into the SAME hospital where we spent all that time — her regular pediatrician is in a wing there. (I’m not sure what it says that I noticed they had new carpet in the atrium, and that I constantly scanned faces, looking for someone we knew. “Oh, hey Brenna!”)

I’ll cut to the chase: we were in and out of the office within 20 minutes with a confirmed red inner-ear, reassurance that her lungs sounded great, and a prescription for an antibiotic.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t also having some mild flashbacks to the last time I came in to that hospital to be reassured. A liiiittle different outcome.

As I wrote in my first post, my impetus to start this blog came from needing to move the Facebook posts from that little saga to somewhere more permanent. I am certain that I will want to show her in detail someday, exactly WHY I have so much gray hair.

So you will see that very first, very brief post below. The day before I wrote that post, it was December 30th, she was suddenly sick and I’d spent all day “letting the fever do its work”. I decided to bring her into the ER (after calling a nurse, of course) because it was after-hours, and her breathing had changed… I was officially nervous and knew I wasn’t wasting anyone’s time. But still — I was fully expecting a nebulizer treatment, maybe a prescription and reassurance that she would be just fine. Which is what usually happens, right??

In the ER, we instead found out that they’d be admitting us (huh, that was new) and that she’d likely need some fluids (I guess if you insist?). They put an IV in her right hand and strapped it down to a little white board. If I’d been on the ball, I would have insisted on the left hand. She is a right-handed finger-sucker, and the night ahead was long without that small comfort.

She had 100% oxygen all night, coming into her nose through what I now know is called a nasal cannula. Except, how much was really coming in? She was  so not having that thing in her nose. So we didn’t sleep much. We mostly sat in a chair while I tried to get the air into her nose, while she fought to pull it out.

Her oxygen saturation levels were below 90% almost the whole night. Even when she would drift off to sleep, I couldn’t look away from the monitor that was flashing red, showing she was below 90%.

That morning, they tried another machine called VapoTherm to help her breathe. It didn’t work.

I now understand how concerning all of this was. I didn’t really get it at the time… They’d fix her up! That’s why we were there. I even made sure Jesse brought my computer in so I could do some work at the hospital that morning.

Sweet, naive me.

So finally, here’s the first, quick post that I wrote on no sleep, and after we’d had some pretty nervous nurses and doctors announce that we needed to move her as soon as a room was ready in the PICU. I was a little shaky, but in general, feeling optimistic. We were exactly where we needed to be. (OH, how true.)


December 31st

Prayers for Zaza please. We brought her into the ER last evening for labored breathing. She hasn’t been responding to the therapies, so we’re moving her to the PICU* shortly.



*Note: This is edited. When I originally wrote the post, I wrote “NICU”. This is one of those things that I’m not sure about. Does EVERYONE know that PICUs exist? NICUs and ICUs are common knowledge, of course. Should I be embarrassed that I’d never even heard of a PICU? Let me know. I can take it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s