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February 06, 2001: Third time's the charm

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I've taken Richard to the hospital before for his asthma, so the fact that we spent the wee hours of Sunday morning in the emergency room was not that big a deal. This time the room was blissfully free of beeps and hisses; the only sound the steady noise of the thing he was breathing into, and the angry cry of an infant down the hall. The baby cried almost constantly for the better part of an hour while we were there. I'm not sure quite when it stopped, only that at one point, as I was drifting off to sleep, huddled on a stool next to Richard's bed, I woke up and realized that the crying had stopped.

The doctor who saw him acted as if he had more important things to do, asking questions and then making it obvious he wasn't even paying attention to the answers because he would ask the same questions again. There are certain questions one asks an asthmatic when he shows up in your emergency room. I've only been once before and even I know that now. This man didn't ask most of them - he seemed more concerned with scribbling something on his chart and then breezing out. I was angry, but because Richard had at least been given the breathing treatments he'd received before, it didn't seem worth chasing the man down and discussing his distinct lack of bedside manner.

Sunday's bout seemed to have been a slow buildup that began with a low-grade fever on Thursday, and ended, finally, with us rushing to the hospital again Monday night. He spent Monday working from home, and by the time I called on my way home from work, he was coughing into the phone and sounded as if he'd just finished a ten mile sprint. I held my breath and waited, not very patiently, until he finally agreed that perhaps he ought to go to the hospital after all, at which point I murmured something to the effect of 'it's about time', and off we went.

And this time he didn't come home with me. Several hours of breathing treatments and a chest x-ray later, they decided that he needed to stay there.

I think if this had been the first time I'd had to deal with this side of his asthma, I'd probably be much less calm about it. It's nothing to be taken lightly and I was more than a little worried, but I know that it's treatable; that his condition is maintainable and that he'll be fine, and that despite his dislike of being in hospitals, that sometimes that's going to be the best place for him to be. That doesn't make it any easier for either of us, but beyond getting him quickly to a hospital, there's not much more I can do.

To make things even more fun, after I left him at the hospital last night, my nose decided that it wanted to join in the excitement, and I promptly developed what seems to be my body's ailment of choice these days - yet another sinus infection. I toughed it out at work as long as I could today, but finally left early, since being unable to breathe puts a damper on my energy level. We were quite the pair in his hospital room tonight; him coughing and wheezing, me blowing my nose and muttering unkind things about my sinuses as we poured over the house plans, unwilling to let something like hospitalization get in the way of deciding once and for all where the computers would live. (don't laugh - it makes a difference in the number and placement of electrical outlets and phone jacks in the room).

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