Croup Doggy Dog

I have to say, Nolan really enjoys heart month…he enjoys February so much that he decides to visit his friends at Levine Children’s Hospital with a visit to the E.R.  Happened last year due to low O2 sats caused by ear infections…on Sunday he decided to make it two years in a row.

Let’s back up a little bit: the crud has been going through our house Old Testament plague-style…you know how it is when you have young kids.  One gets sick and then it’s like mass pandemic in your own home.  Our oldest had a bout of strep throat a few weeks ago and then eventually I caught one of those gross, phlegmy colds (which I seem to now get like every 4 weeks or so).  We tried REALLY hard to keep Nolan from getting sick, so it was lots of hand washing and hand sanitizer and things seemed to be going ok.  Well the other night I was doing a late feed on Nolan and he started coughing…except it was this weird cough…like a seal.  Yes, like “hork hork hork” kinda seal.  It gave me some pause and I stood there in his room keeping an eye on him, but it didn’t seem to bother him too much and when he was awake, he was his usual self, no coughing.

So on Saturday, for Valentine’s Day we had some friends over the house and it was a great night…we had a blast and Nolan enjoyed himself and then went to bed easily.  At 5am Sunday morning I awoke to his aquarium-style seal show, except this time it lasted a lot longer and he was sounding very agitated.  I picked him up and took him into the bathroom to check for the tell-tale respiratory issues (blue nail beds, feet, lips, etc), but alas everything looked fine.  But he was breathing a little fast and wouldn’t calm down or stop coughing.  At this point my wife was up too and trying to help calm him down while we hooked him up to his O2 sat monitor.  It showed a pretty high heart rate and sats in the low to mid 70’s, which is below his typical mid-80’s.  Our local hospital system has a handy phone app where you can check operating hours and wait times, and I checked to see if the Pediatric Urgent Care nearby was open, but it wasn’t slated to open until 10am.  So we had a choice to make: do we wait it out until 10?  Do we take him to the regular 24-hour urgent care or local ER (where we’d get the “What the heck is HLHS?” question)?  Or do we just take him to Levine Children’s Hospital’s ER?  We decided on the latter, so I got changed and put his car seat in my car.  When I got back inside, Nolan was dressed and wearing his coat and hat…and go figure…Nolan was happy as could be.  Little stinker!

So off we went, better safe than sorry.  On the way there I called his cardiologist’s office…I knew no one would be there but that I would be routed to an after-hours operator.  I gave him the run-down and said to just pass along the word to the cardiologist on-call and they could call me if they wanted.  I just like them to be aware when Nolan is about to go to the ER.  You wouldn’t have known Nolan was sick because he was in the back just talking and laughing and being a ham.  We got to the ER at Levine Children’s Hospital and luckily were the only people in the waiting area (thank God).  We were greeted very warmly by the front desk person and were called immediately back.  The nurse took Nolan’s vitals and was VERY sweet to him.  By this point I had Nolan’s fav show (Yo Gabba Gabba) loaded up on my phone to keep him calm and the nurse was just chatting with him about DJ Lance, and Brobee, and all the other characters on the show, which made Nolan (and me) happy.  The Charge Nurse came in to introduce herself and let us know that it was currently shift change for the physicians, but they would be in as soon as possible.  I really appreciated that communication.  So we hung out and watched more Yo Gabba Gabba:


Bill, Nolan’s RN for the morning, came in to get Nolan situated and comfortable: he was really friendly and attentive and kept us updated on everything.  Eventually three physicians came in to see him over the course of probably the next 30 minutes.  They were all really awesome: the first physician said it sounded like he had croup, but that since she couldn’t hear him cough she wasn’t 100% sure.  Luckily I told her I had a video of Nolan coughing so she waited patiently while I pried my phone away from Nolan and played the video…immediately she knew it was croup.  She said another doctor would come in just to be sure.  The next doctor was named Dr. Magill and she was incredible: you could tell she took the time to review Nolan’s medical record. She knew his physician, knew his ideal O2 sat levels, and knew about his previous ER visits.  We discussed, in particular, his visit 2 Novembers ago when he had some fluid on the lungs.  I told her that this bout of illness was way different from that and he was nowhere near that level of sick.  She listened patiently to me and definitely took into account my thoughts on it (Which I really appreciated) and said she just asked because she was trying to determine whether or not to get Nolan a chest x-ray just in case.  She felt, though, that it would be best not to agitate him and passed on the x-ray.  While Nolan didn’t acknowledge it or realize it, I KNOW he appreciated that too!  She was really sweet and attentive to Nolan as she checked him out, even letting him play with this light-up bird she had on her stethoscope.  Dr. Magill then explained what croup was (a viral condition that causes inflammation of the upper airways) and ordered some tylenol for a little bit of fever and a steroid to help relax some inflammation and help with the cough.

The third doctor came in and was just as sweet.  She explained that the steroid was long-acting and he would only need one dose: by the time it wore off he would be past the worst of things anyway.  She recommended a vaporizer if we had one but otherwise was ready to discharge us due to Nolan’s really good vitals.  I mean just LOOK at those sats!


As we packed up to head back home, Bill returned and helped me get Nolan situation.  He reviewed more info about croup with me and some more discharge instructions.  The Charge Nurse also came with some stickers for Nolan and his brothers.  As we walked out of there together, Nolan was in a happy mood and so was I.  It was nice not to be admitted for something this time around, and we managed to get home just before 9am.

I say this all the time and can’t say it enough: Levine Children’s Hospital is the cream of the crop…but this visit to their ER was just exceptional.  It seemed like everyone there made it an absolute priority to make us comfortable and to make sure Nolan was enjoying his short stay.  I know that waking up at 5am and making a trip to the ER was not an ideal way to spend my Sunday morning, but it was beyond what I could imagine.  Nolan is doing quite well now: the meds helped a great deal and the vaporizer is helping too…we couldn’t have done it without that awesome LCH staff!  Thanks guys!

About Chris Perez

My name is Chris aka HLHS Dad: I’m married with 3 sons. I love coffee and Yankees baseball. Be kind to one another.

Posted on February 17, 2015, in Care at Home and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: