Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Paging Doctor Welby

On the calf front, things continue to improve. Although I had trouble walking a at normal speed yesterday, I can now walk normally with only a little tightness on my left calf. I can also get up stairs walking normally, but still can’t (or won’t?) walk down stairs using my left toes. I'll get to the gym again tonight and continue to stretch the calf regularly. In general, I'm satisfied with the progress, but not at all happy that I'm missing out on such great running weather her in Phoenix.

That's all I have concerning running. On a personal note, I had quite a scare last night. Now that the High School soccer sesson is winding down and only kids still playing are on teams in the Hight School State Championship series, club soccer is starting up again. I was at my daughter’s first club soccer practice watching them go through their drills when my daughter came up to me after an hour clutching her throat and complaining that she couldn’t breathe. This isn’t an unusually situation for this time of the year in Phoenix since we are at the front end of spring on the desert; yes, it is spring time in Phoenix, the current temperature is 801F (27C). Although she is prone to exercise induced asthma, a quick shot of albuterol usually knocks it down. Last night was different, her inhaler offered no relief and she still couldn’t breath.

I took her home immediately, thinking she needed no more than a breathing treatment; but she started to hyperventilate on the way home and her hands and feet were feeling all tingly. By the time I got home, my wife was so concerned with her deteriorating condition that we took her the local ER to see if they could get her stabilized quickly.

The triage nurse figured out immediately that this wasn’t a typical asthma attacked since her lungs were clear and her oxygen saturation levels were ok. But she continued to gasp for air. She could see my daughter's throut spaming regularly as my daughter try to gulp down air. In her condition, she was immediately sent back to the a bed in ER and immediately injected with several drugs (don’t remember what they were) to try to get her to relax. These seemed to work at first, but when they decided to give her a steroid laced breathing treatment, her HR shot back up over 130 and the convulsion restart. Over the next couple of hours she did calm down, with the throat spasms only occurring every 5 minutes of so; which was much better than the nearly continuous state she was in when we arrived.

The attending doctor ordered the usual blood work up and a chest and neck extra. Along about mid-night the techs with the portable XRAY machine showed up to take the necessary photos and at 1 AM the attending physician came by to tell us he was a loss for what was causing the spasms. His learned conclusion was “panic attack”.

He must have read the incredulous look my wife and I gave him and ordered a CT Scan to see if he could see any swelling or soft tissue obstruction in her throat. Why he thought a 15 year old girl with no prior history of panic had a spontaneous panicked while practicing a sport she has been playing for 9 years was beyond me, but after 5 hours in the ER, I was willing to wait out one more test. This was a major miscue on our part. In retrospect, we should have accepted the verdict and asked for our walking papers, instead we settled back into our hard molded plastic chairs and begin the CT Scan vigil.

At 2:30 AM, the nurse assigned to our bed went off to find out why we still didn’t have the CT Scan. Moments after she got back my daughter was wheeled off the CT Scan room, where ever that was, and my wife and I wandered over to the hospital’s cafeteria for a coffee and a little conversation to figure out what we were going to do next. Neither of us had any faith that the CT Scan was going to turn up anything. With our coffee in hand, we walked outside to enjoy the coolish night air, only to be driven back inside by the phalanx of smokers standing by the door.

It was probably 2:45 when my daughter’s bed was returned to the little curtained cubicle in the ER and the wait continued. Now all we needed was for the doctor to come back, re-read his prior verdict and let us go home. Shortly after returning from the CT Scan, my daughter finally fell asleep and the spasms all but stopped. At least they were no longer waking her up. Her parents, on the other hand were still wide awake wandering zombie-lie to and froe in front of the tiny space we occupied.

Freedom came our way at 4:00AM. The CT Scan didn’t show anything unusual. She did have a mild sinus infection, which they treated with antibiotics (which delayed our exit another 20 minutes) and other than that, they recommended that she see her regular physician. After a couple of hours at home, my wife took her into to see her pediatrician who figured that she most have had an allergic reaction to something on the field which got the spasms started. We'll continue with the breathing treatments and hope this doesn't repeat. She miss the week of practice.

People practicing emergency medicine have a tough job and the range of people they need to deal with on a nightly basis is amazing. During our 8 hour stint, we shared the room with a homeless meth addict complaining of pain in his hand (who I think was only looking for a place to crash), a women so incredibly overweight that she could not, by her own admission, lay down for fear of suffocation. She was complaining that her knees hurt and amazingly, without any medical training, my diagnosis and recommended course of action matched nearly word for word with those of the doctor attending to her. We had a elderly gentlemen suffering from heart issues and dementia. He didn’t know the correct day, month, or year; although he came close on the month. He almost had the nurse fooled when she asked him to name the current president and he responded with the correct name; a little more probing revealed it was Bush the senior. In addition, we had an assortment of car crash victims, knife wounds and, as the night wore on, numerous children suffering from minor childhood ailments. It was quite the cavalcade.

I don’t know how these folks do this night after night. I certainly would have preferred to get through the process in an hour or two instead of making a night of it, but at least I could pay my co-pay and go home and get some sleep at the end. All those attending to patients will show up again tonight and the circus will continue; with any luck, without me or my family.

Have a great week..

11 comments:

StumbleGuy said...

Phil, can sympathise totally with how you must have felt as your daughter fell ill. My 12 year old daughter's school called me on Thursday to say she had suddenly developed an all over rash. First thing I thought was Meningitis. Panic! Turns out we've switched fabric conditioners in the wash and she's alergic to it!

Happy to read that you are both on the road to recovery. All the best with that calf problem.

Andy

J~Mom said...

Oh man, Phil, what a long and scary night for all of you!! I am so glad that your daughter is ok. As a fellow asthma sufferer I know how scary that can be for her. I hope that she continues to get better and that there are no more scares like that. My little guy (3 years) had his eyes start itching and started his mantra of "my eyes are bugging me". So I know everything is starting to bloom. I hope you all get some rest tonight.

Anne said...

What a harrowing ordeal, Phil! I'm glad your daughter is ok, but I imagine no one's looking forward to returning to that field if the pediatrician is correct.

Neese said...

bless her sweet heart, i'm so sorry she had to go through that, and pray it's the last time...

Sempre Libera said...

I'm glad she's ok - what a scare!

Bapp said...

Nice to hear that your leg is feeling better. Sorry you and your family had to go through the ER thing - a lot of time waiting, worrying, and wondering.

Thomas said...

I'm so glad to read that she's better, but if it really was an allergic reaction it might happen again. That must have been one harrowing night you won't forget in a hurry.

Ewen said...

I'm glad your daughter's OK Phil. Does seem like it could be an allergic reaction to some sort of pollen. Probably worth getting a skin test done for allergies.

Deene said...

what a scare! let's hope it was just a freak episode and doesn't happen again so she can continue to play.

DawnB said...

Oh Phil sorry to hear about your
daughter what an experience. Hope things are going better for her

angie's pink fuzzy said...

OMG how scary!!!

On my 15th birthday, I went to school like normal. By 9 a.m., I was feeling a little sick. About 5 minutes later, once a slide show started in science class, I realized I couldn't breathe. My hands and feet went numb, and I started jerking and spasming. I was gasping for air as I tried to ask for help, and finally, a fellow classmate noticed that I was having problems. I passed out. They turned the lights on, and my classmate helped me to the nurse's office. I stumbled the whole way there, and I was as white as a ghost. My mother, knowing it was my birthday, thought I made the whole thing up so I could spend the day at home. Needless to say, I didn't go to a doctor. I've spent the last 13 years figuring out what happened to me - it's come back on occasion, but never so bad that I passed out. With all the research I've done and all the doctors I've talked to since, I've pegged them as severe panic attacks. There was no reason for me to have had one that morning, but I did. My suggestion - from personal experience - is to consider the possibility of it being a panic attack. I know as a parent you don't want your child suffering from panic attacks - you feel vulnerable and want to know why your child doesn't feel safe. She may not know. I didn't know for sure until years later when I started getting those same feelings in response to being triggered from PTSD. I'm not suggesting your daughter is suffering from PTSD or anything so, I don't know, dramatic, but I guess I'm trying to say that it could be panic attacks, so you may not want to dismiss that possiblity. It's probably a good idea to test for allergies as well.