Who Needs Breathing? Not Me!

It was so great to have Nolan off the ventilator!  He was only getting oxygen via a nasal cannula and he was alert and progressing bit by bit every day.  Sometimes I worried about him being in pain, but the nurses assured me that the meds he was on was keeping him in la-la land, but without being completely sedated to the point where he was knocked out.  They likened it to being on laughing gas.  That was ok with me, I guess.  The cool part was that my grandmother came down from Connecticut to visit us: it’s always good to see her, especially since she gets a chance to see all of her great-grandkids.  I know not many people get that opportunity.  Oh yeah, and the awesome food she makes is a MAJOR perk 🙂 

Grandma with Grant:

GrandmaGrant

Grandma with Hudson:

GrandmaHudson

One night I decided to take her to see Nolan in the hospital.  She had gone once already to see him, but this time it was just the two of us.  This night, though, I really wish my Grandmother didn’t come.  We got to Nolan’s room and as usual I asked the nurse how he was doing.  She said they were continuing to back him off of oxygen to see how he would do on his own and that he was doing ok.  I looked up at his monitor and noticed that his respiratory rate was a lot lower than usual.  I pointed this out to the nurse and she was like “That’s ok: as long as it doesn’t go below 20 or so, we’re fine with that.”  Then she went out to the hallway so we could have a visit.  I can’t exactly remember how long we were there, but I noticed that Nolan’s respiratory rate started to go down, down down, til it was right at 20.  Then suddenly it dropped down to 10, then to 6 and I ran to get the nurse and the respiratory therapist.  They jumped right into action and I jumped right into freaking out.  I was pacing back and forth and was really nervous and it was rough on my grandmother too.  The respiratory therapist basically lifted Nolan off the bed and began to massage his back…as long as he was doing that, Nolan was breathing ok.  If he stopped, his breathing would putter out.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe either, this couldn’t be happening.

Finally one of the doctors came in…she looked like she was 14 years old and I don’t remember ever meeting her.  She pow-wowed really quick with a couple other people and then quickly told me, “Ok here’s what I think it is…the sedatives are a little too strong and he’s used to being on the ventilator so he’s relaxing too much, expecting the vent to kick in.  We’re going to give him a medication that will pull him out of sedation but not so much that it will put him into withdrawal.”  I was like “Wait, what?”  And I asked her if she was sure it would work.  She told me she thought so, but you just never completely know.  The respiratory therapist continued to massage Nolan, I continued to pray and freak out. 

An eternity later (or so it felt) the meds arrived and were administered.  We all watched, and I really think we were all holding our breath.  Ironically the only one seeming to be breathing was Nolan (as he was being massaged, of course).  Within minutes, his respiratory rate jumped up, the Respiratory Therapist put him down, and he was breathing just fine.  JESUS.  That was…just, wow.  Crazy.  I thanked the female Doogie Howser and the rest of the staff, then gave Nolan a kiss on the head and gave my Grandmother a big hug.  Then I watched Nolan like a hawk and his respirations stayed strong.  Thank God for a smart, quick-acting doctor and staff.  They are incredible and saved Nolan from a definite emergency. 

Before I had to leave for the night, I leaned down close to Nolan and said, “I love you…but don’t do that again.  EVER.”

GrandmaNolan

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About Chris Perez

My name is Chris aka HLHS Dad: I’m married with 3 sons. I love photography and the New York Yankees. I’m an admitted pizza snob and amateur balloon animal maker. Every now and then you can catch me being serious…but most of the time I’m quoting random commercials or lines from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

Posted on November 22, 2013, in CVICU, family and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ah!! Just brought memories. My son did that twice when I was there and it’s the worst feeling ever! He turned completely blue and I thought I had lost him, the nurses quickly came and intervened. They had to use that balloon type mask to help him breathe. Another time they rubbed his back, feet, and hands. I remember a nurse holding his tiny body on her hand and rubbing with the other. I cried on my way home the second time it happened. We constantly watched the monitor when we were there, until thankfully, these desats started occurring less and less often. They finally disappeared completely before we took him home.

    • Hey Mariana,

      Thanks for the reply. Yes, it’s terrifying, and I’m glad your son recovered from the times when that happened. It’s amazing how frozen and helpless you feel when it’s going on, but thank God Nolan made it through!

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