Monday, July 30, 2007

It's Been 6 Months......

6 months ago today was a day that changed my life forever. It was the day that Rhett was overdosed at our local children's hospital, and we almost lost him.

I still have not gotten over it. You would think that after 6 months I would be okay. But every day I see that image of him playing with Andy, and feel the joy that he was going to be released from the PICU and transferred to the surgical unit. After all, we were only up there for a hernia operation. I went up to the third floor to update this very blog.

Then I hear that page over the intercom....."May I have your attention please, will the parents of Rhett Bird please return to the PICU, the parents of Rhett Bird please return to the PICU"

Andy and I are laughing with each other, so happy that we only had to spend one night in the PICU this time. Thinking that the reason we were paged was that he was ready to go to the floor. After all, Andy was holding Rhett when he received the medication. Nothing was wrong.

We get to the doors to go in, still laughing and messing around like giddy teenagers. Then the social worker meets us at the door, blocking us from going in. I will never forget her words; " I don't know how to tell you this, but Rhett coded just after you left."

The world spun around us at least 15 times before Andy or I were able to comprehend what she was telling us. I looked at her with desperation in my voice and said, "But he was just fine 10 minutes ago!!!!!" She says; "Well that's why kids like him come into the PICU after they have surgery." She led us over to the computer stations in the middle of the aisle just in front of his bed.

Every Doctor, intern, respiratory therapist, and extra nurse was standing around him. Where 10 minutes ago I had left my happy smiling little boy, he was now being frantically worked on. They had just finished chest compressions, and had him intubated. He was covered in his own vomit, and they were putting a central line in his groin. At the point when he had coded he had absolutely no IV access.

The attending Dr, Dr. Poss came over to me and asked me if I had any questions. The only thing I could think of was "What happened, did something go wrong with his heart?" With him having prior heart surgery, whenever anything goes wrong I always think heart first.

Dr. Poss told me that he did not know what had happened, but that they were trying to figure it out. That was when I noticed a team of people going over Rhett's chart. Not even 2 minutes later Dr. Poss again came over and said, "We are not sure but we think that he was overdosed on his pain medication." My thoughts whirled around in my head, in desperation I asked if it could be reversed. He told me that it could, but he had come out of it on his own, and was beginning to stabilize. He then told me that they were going to have to reintubate him, because when they put the breathing tube in, it was too big, and had gone in too deep.

He said that as soon as they did this, and got it back in that we could go over and see him. I waited for what seemed like hours, until they had intubated him again. During this time we discussed that Rhett had indeed been overdosed by the nurse. She had made a miscalculation in her conversions, resulting in her decimal point being put in the wrong place. Rhett had received 10x the amount of Dilaudid that he was supposed to have.

They explained to me that Dilaudid is an opioid and that when it is given in those amounts it suppresses the respiratory system, and causes the heart to slow down so much that it eventually stops. Rhett's nurse was right by him when he quit breathing, and immediately started bagging him until she could get help from someone to come over and begin chest compressions.

I asked if they had to shock him, and he told me that his heart had never completely stopped, but did go down as low as 20 beats per minute.

After this discussion, I was able to go over and see my baby. He was completely paralyzed, and looked horrible. They had cleaned him up a little, but he still had dried vomit in his hair, and he was so swollen. His eyes were bright red around the eye lids, and they were so puffy I don't think he could have opened them if he tried. I held his hand and stood over his bed and cried. I kissed his forehead and told him that I would never leave his side again.

It just didn't seem fair that a half an hour ago he was fine, and now he was lying on this bed, his body as limp as it could be, fighting for his life. I wanted to scream at everyone around me to leave us alone. I wanted to scream at God, "WHY did you let this happen??? What has he ever done to you???" I was so angry, I was so hurt. This was my beautiful little boy who has taught me so much, He had already spent more time in that hospital than anyone deserved why this?

The doctors told me that he had aspirated into his lungs when they were doing the chest compressions. They were going to watch him over the next twelve hours and see if he developed pneumonia. But at that point in time they were very optimistic that he would be fine, and off of the ventilator within that twelve hours. I felt so much better hearing that. But it was short lived.

As the day went on his lungs started sounding worse, and the chest x-ray's got more and more cloudy. Rhett received a new nurse, and the nurse that had overdosed him came up to me and told me she was sorry. She told me that she hoped it didn't set us back too far.

I look back on those words from her, and I think that I was so naive at the time to think that we wouldn't have a major set back. But we did. Rhett ended up being on the ventilator for 7 days. His lungs had issues to begin with, and they had an extremely difficult time recovering from all of the new trauma that they had received.

It surprised all of the Doctors and Nurses that it took so long for him to recover. Our 3 day hospital stay turned into 16 days.

Not only did we have a big set back medically wise, but we have had a huge set back in our lives. Andy lost his job because we were up there for so long, Rhett was so critical that we could not leave. We have never been able to find Andy a job that pays as well as his other one did. We have fallen behind in our house payments, and have faced loosing our house.

We are still playing the catch up game on all of our bills. Because of Andy's loss of job, we also lost our primary care insurance. Rhett does receive Medicaid, but there are so many things that Medicaid does not cover. They do not cover the tender grips that hold the oxygen cannula on his face. They do not cover the probes for his saturation monitor. They also do not cover his pediasure that he needs because he does not have a feeding tube.

Before he had this overdose, he was doing just fine and almost to the point where he was completely on solid foods, and he was drinking cows milk. Now he has issues with his swallowing, and cannot get all of the nutrients that he needs because he has scar tissue in his throat from being intubated for so long, and from his airways getting damaged by the tube that was too big.

I have deep emotional scars from all of this. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of the pain that we have gone through because of this. When that nurse told us that she hoped it did not set us back too far, she could have never have guessed how much pain it causes someone to see their child lying there in a hospital bed fighting for their life, knowing that it did not have to be this way if she would have just been a little more careful.

I still have nightmares. My five year old daughter will run up to Rhett while he is sleeping, and check to see if he is still breathing. She is scared to death of loosing her baby brother. She talks to me daily about how sad she is that he almost died. She draws pictures of him lying down, and her standing over him crying.

There was a point in my life that I thought that when someone got compensated for pain and suffering in a lawsuit it was horrible, and nobody could be that upset that that law should be in place. But now that I see myself, and my family, and see how much pain this has caused us, I understand why people do get compensated for things like this. My pain is just as real and intense today as it was 6 months ago.

I am so lucky that I still have my beautiful baby boy with me today. I don't know what I would have done had I lost him. He brings rays of light to my cloudy days, and I know that no matter whatever he faces he was meant to be here, and will fight through anything.

Here is the video montage that I made just after we got home.......


Betsy said...

((((big hugs))))

I can feel your pain just reading your words - thank God he survived and is here to give us all those sweet smiles of his.

The picture of him as a newborn signing "I love you" is just precious!!!

Nicole said...

Precious Pam and Rhett,

You do deserve compensation. I will pray that the Lord guides you through that decision. It simply isn't fair what you guys have had to endure. Much love, Nicole

Jessica said...

Wow, I can't believe that was 6 months ago. It was during Rhett's hospital stay that I started reading your blog. And reading today's post also makes me feel the pain that you guys have gone through. Hugs coming your way!

~Melissa~ said...

What a scary time - I'm sorry that Rhett and all of you had to go through that. Rhett is an amazing, beautiful, strong boy.

Mayte said...

This is the first time I write to your blog. I can relate to that situation since my little boy was also overdosed in NICU by a nurse who miscalculated also. One of the side effects of the drug was respiratory failure and they had him intubated immediately. He also had issues with his lungs since because of the tube he produced a lot of extra secretions; also, he had to sleep right next to my bed for 2 months after he was home since his throat was hurt after having the tube for a week, and he couldn't make a sound when he cried. They are our heroes and we love our babies so much! God bless your family and your little survivor.

FBF Rothkopf said...

Oh honey, I'm sending you great bigs hugs. I think you are perfectly in your right to not "be over this" yet, or even ever, but I've been so inspired by how you have handled the situation.

And La Principessa Sofia sends hugs to her little buddy Rhett, too!


jennifergg said...

Pam, you are so strong, and so brave, just like Rhett. You and Andy never once asked for anything from anyone; you always gave, your forgiveness, your kindness, your love.

I remember you writing about the two of you sleeping the back of your truck in sleeping bags, to be near Rhett. I thought then, Those are people I'm lucky to know.

Michelle said...

what an emotional journey you have been on! Hugs to you on this bittersweet 6 month anniversary!

jenhiatt said...

you are such an amazing mom and Rhett is an amazing boy. His life has so much meaning and he is going to do big things!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say! How awful! Thank GOD he is still with you! I cannot imagine the horror you must have a living nightmare. Can I the nurse still employed? I mean, that cannot be acceptable, right? I thought meds for children were like double or triple checked for dosage to prevent these kinds of errors! And I do hope you are able to successfully sue the hospital. I mean, this is their fault. You are not just being litigious, your hubby lost his job, and perhaps there will be future problems with his throat. Often those tubes can cause long-term throat can weaken and paralyze the muscles and a host of other things. You probably already know this though.

Anyway, an amazing story. Thank goodness Rhett is still with you!


Kim said...

I am sure I can't even imagine how deep your heart hurts for what your little guy has been through. I have also been one to wonder about "compensation" of these types of things. I believe that God will lead you in the right direction. I pray you feel the peace of His embrace soon on this situation. Your little guy has touched so many people and I believe God has HUGE plans for your little man. He is absolutlely ADORABLE and is getting more and more handsome. I will pray for God's peace, wisdom and guidance for your family.
Hugs for all
Kim and Miss T

Jodie said...

Oh my goodness, I can't believe it has been six months already. You are so incredibly strong, all of you! That little Rhett is such a doll face. Thank goodness he is alright. My hubby was also overdosed with Dillauded and nearly died in the ER. It was terrifying! I can't even imagine watching my baby go through something like that!

Jodie & Tyler

my--four--sons said...

I just found your blog today and spent a couple hours reading it. I think you are a noble mother and I too beleive you are blessed to have Rhett in your lives. I do not have a DS child but I had a neighbor who was DS and I still feel my life is very blessed to have known her.

Shannon said...

I can only imagine how awful that must've felt! I am so happy you still have him!

jenjerjack said...

Wow!!I can feel your emotions as i read your post. I can imagine everything you went through as we also went through the same sort of thing when Jackson had his AVSD heart surgery.What was supposed to be 5 days in hospital turned into 5 weeks. My husband also lost his job. I am so happy that your little guy came out of this okay and came home. In the end that is what matters most, that Rhett came home, happy and healthy. Enjoy that little angel of yours!! :o)

Kari said...

6 months sure flies. This entry choked me all up. I have been thinking about you and your family alot and am so happy to have you as a friend!!