Thursday, September 24, 2009


My husband often tells me that I should go back to school and become a doctor. NO THANKS! I tell him. I have no desire to go back to school for the next decade just to wear a white coat. Nursing on the other hand? Now that is something that I could definitely see myself doing. Wait...that's what I AM doing. On a daily basis. And I LOVE it. I just don't get paid...monetarily that is. I find myself to be a perfectionist, it goes along with the whole nursing thing. Therefore I find myself becoming really frustrated when I visit the local ER and end up doing things myself because the staff is clueless when it comes to a child like Ben. It's not their fault, and I don't hold it against them. They just don't have a lot of experience with medically fragile children. Take the other night for example. We arrived on their doorstep around 10pm. The triage nurse leads us to a room. I lay him on the bed, watching his chest heave in and out while struggling to breathe.
This is where I hold my breath.
I look over at the nurse assigned to us who is leisurely messing around with some wires, trying to figure out which chest leads to use? I snap into action and snap her out of "la-la" land telling her "how 'bout we forget about those leads for a moment and get this child some OXYGEN? And while you're at it, a sat probe would be nice." She stares at me and then grabs a nasal cannula. REALLY? She then proceeds to place the cannula over his nose. This is where I get somewhat annoyed. HE HAS A TRACH! He doesn't breathe through his nose OR mouth. He breathes through the little hole in his neck. I grab the nasal cannula from his face, snip the end off (since there were no trach collars to be found) and attach it to his trach. The doctor finally comes in to see him. We have the same conversation every time.
Doc: what's going on with Ben?
Me: oh, ya know...respiratory distress.
Doc: huh. I see. I'll call Dartmouth.
Me: sounds great!
In the meantime, x-rays, bloodwork and nebulizers are ordered. I groan internally knowing that getting blood from Ben is like trying to squeeze water from a rock. 12 pokes later...he still won't give it up. (and I'm not sure I blame him) The respiratory therapist drops by to give him a nebulizer treatment. It causes Ben's secretions to really start flowing. He starts coughing up some serious green goodness. His airway is becoming obstructed because of it. Meanwhile the therapist is taking her sweet ole' time trying to "unclog" his suction cathetar. This is where I put my child down and take over. I yell for the nurse to "bring me more cathetars", he's not moving air at this point. I grab the tubing from the therapists hands and feel her tugging back. WHAT?!?! I grab harder and open a new cathetar to clear my child's airway. "Get me some saline bullets!" I bark. I squeeze one down his trach to help loosen things up. At this point a "local yokel" ambulance company walks in the door. The medic looks like he's 75 years old and smells like an ash tray. I try not to be judgemental, I can't help it. These are the yahoos that are supossed to transport my child??? They introduce themselves and before they can get another word out of their mouth, I ask them what their plan is if Ben crashes on them. (Now I've rendered them speechless.) I watch them as they watch my child struggle to breathe.
I'm still holding my breath.
They look back at me with wide eyes. "Do you have a vent in case he stops breathing and needs support?" Their answer is no. "Then you are NOT equipped to transport my son," I pipe back. (Wow! Did I just say that?) They agree and head BACK out the door they came in. Ben's getting worse by the minute. The doctor tries to reach DHART to see if they'll fly him. They can't. Darn FOG. Another ambulance company is called. This one has two medics and they don't smell like an ash tray. I inform them that they may have to bag Ben if he decides he's too tired to breathe anymore. Now I've made them nervous. Into the ambulance Ben goes. I kiss him goodbye and tell him to keep breathing. They go LIGHTS the whole way to Dartmouth. I follow. It's the LONGEST 70 minutes of my life. I'm not sure what was worse, not knowing how Ben was faring in the back of the ambulance or staring at the FLASHING LIGHTS the WHOLE way to DHMC. I kept praying I wouldn't have a seizure. It was 3:20am and we finally arrived at the hospital.
Finally...I can breathe.


Emily B. said...

Oh Becky, what an awful story. I'm so glad you guys finally made it okay. You are so strong. Sometimes I still let myself be intimidated by docs/nurses. I'm so glad Benny has you.

April said...

WOW, I still can't believe it.... You'd think you could relax once you're at the hospital "in good hands" obviously the best hands are MOMS! Love you!!!

Trina and Jophie said...

Finally....Another mom who acts like me.

Finally another mom who enters a hospital "knowing" SHE will be caring for her child or he might die...

Finally another mom who doesn't give a flip about yanking things outta those "got my degree right here" white coats as they "mosey mosey hum ho" about whilst your child is UM giving his best impression of papa smurf or worse Papa smurf not breathing


I'm known as "The wildcat in a bag" Momma by the way...

My reputation does precede me :0)

Hang in there,
Trina and Jophie

Smilin' sunshine said...

Thank goodness you know what you are doing!

Jenny said...

You should have that degree just by virtue of what you do everyday.

N1RKW said...

Becky, you amaze me. I can see why Ben was sent to you and your family. Keep up the good work, and keep those medical boneheads on their toes!

LL said...

WOW. I think I was holding my breath and I read that. You AMAZE ME!!! and way to go Ben, way to be strong and keep breathing.
We love you both!!!
Hope the two of you are breathing a little easier each day!
thinking of you~

The Mormon Monk said...

Doc, get me some oxygen for this lady before she passes out, STAT!

Adam and Anya said...

There's no better doctors than mothers. You are WONDERFUL!

shirlgirl said...

You should have your RN by reason of your exaustive experience taking care of your Ben. Sure glad you can take over while the others diddle daddle around. It's not the first time he has been in that ER, so they should know something unless there are all new people. Good for you for being such an excellent advocate for your wonderful son. Hope you are feeling better at this point. At least he is in a good place.

Jo Jo said...

I've held my breath for you all summer. Love it when you can finally come up for air, just for a while ;-) Good thing Ben has you.

Anonymous said...

SUe HIckenlooper can tell you a few similar stories when she was driving their son to a hospital while she was applying pressure to points while her hemophiliac son was bleeding...

She can relate.

Good job and sometimes that is just the way it will be.

I love you and am proud of you. You can be my advocate.

Jenny said...

Dear Ben,
Get well soon. And give your mom a kiss and a hug from me.

Alana said...

I know they hand out doctorate degrees for people that never actually went through the program, I think the same should hold true for you. Hope Ben is doing better. Stay strong Beck.

Jane said...

Becky you are one amazing woman!
And of course you had me crying again as I read that.
So glad Ben has the amazing mom that he does!

Anonymous said...

Ben is so blessed to have such a smart and capable Mom!

Heather O. said...

I used to think the Nixons were a little paranoid when they said they could care for the boys at home better than a hospital could. Now that I've worked in hospitals for a living, it amazes me that ANYBODY lives through a hospital stay, much less somebody on a trach who needs respiratory support. I watched a nurse dismiss a trach that was 2/3rds out of the neck and a lethargic patient as a result of low Vit K. Um, hello?

Keep on shouting for saline bullets, baby. Ben needs his momma bear. You rock, sister friend.