Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ryder Goes to the Hospital

Nothing is worse than seeing your child suffer and not being able to do anything about it.

 One day life was fine and dandy, and then, all of the sudden, we were rushing our precious baby boy to the hospital by ambulance, desperately hoping that life-saving measures would not be needed along the way.

Needless to say, the last couple weeks have been a little intense.

When our nanny's son was diagnosed with croup, we knew that Ryder was probably in for it.

What is Croup?

Croup is an infection of the upper airway, generally in children, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough. The symptoms are the result of inflammation around the vocal cords, windpipe, and bronchial tubes.

Viral croup is most common, and symptoms are most severe in children 6 months to 3 years old. The symptoms are often worse at night, and when children are upset or crying. The effects of croup generally peak 2 to 3 days after they begin, and in the meantime home treatment includes helping the child get rest and plenty of fluids, and assisting their breathing by administering cool, moist air.

Croup usually isn't serious, and most cases can be treated at home. However, for a small percentage of children, croup can be severe and even life threatening.

Unfortunately, Ryder was one of these children.

The Nightmare Begins

As we suspected would happen, Ryder was diagnosed with croup just a few days after his little buddy. He was given a dose of oral steroids, and we prepared ourselves for a few sleepless nights with a sick little boy.

He clearly didn't feel good and was very clingy and whiny, but other than that his behavior wasn't out of the ordinary. As expected, nighttime was the worst. We slept with Ryder to monitor his breathing, and often had to take him outside into the cool night or early-morning air to help him breathe easier. After a couple days, he seemed to be getting much better.


The Emergency Room

Then Ryder had a particularly bad night, and by morning his breathing had become so labored that we became seriously concerned. After speaking to the on-call pediatric nurse, we rushed him to the emergency room. At the ER, Ryder was given a nebulizer breathing treatment containing epinephrine (adrenalin). This came in the form of a mist that must be inhaled into the lungs, and we had to hold our sweet boy down while he screamed in fear and pain as it was administered.

My heart just about broke into pieces.

Luckily he didn't mind this breathing treatment too much...

After being kept several hours for observation, Ryder's condition seemed to improve (he even had a snack!), so they sent us home.

 The Hospital

Over the next couple days, Ryder's condition remained pretty much the same. He was sick, but no sicker than any other little boy with a nasty case of croup. He had a cough and was struggling to breathe (at nighttime in particular). We thought he seemed to be getting better and was probably over the worst of it.

Then another particularly bad night struck, and the next morning we waited anxiously for the doctor's office to open. She agreed to see Ryder right away, and during the next few hours Ryder's condition deteriorated rapidly. As he gasped for air at the doctor's office, the decision was made to admit him to the hospital. I was frightened but tried to remain calm as a special pediatric doctor was summoned from Seattle out to our little local hospital in Issaquah, where he was born.

The doctor arrived, and Ryder was admitted to the pediatric wing of the hospital. By this time he was lying limply in my lap, eyes only partially open, gasping for air as if it was the only thing in the world his little body still had energy for.

Emergency Transport

After just a short period of time, the doctor explained to us that Ryder was much sicker than she had originally realized. She did not feel confident that the local hospital had the staff or equipment needed to treat him adequately. Terror flooded my body in a slow, cold rush.

My baby was very, very sick.

A respiratory specialist arrived to administer a medical high flow air-oxygen treatment while we waited for the Pediatric Transport Team to arrive from Seattle. They wanted a pediatric surgeon to be with Ryder every step of the way, in case life saving measures were necessary during the ride to the hospital. I felt like I was gasping for breath myself as everything was explained.

The ambulance ride into the city is a complete blur to me.

I rode in the back with my sweet baby and held his hand while he looked around dazedly at the monitors, tubes, wires, equipment, and masked faces around him. As confusion, fear and pain flickered across his face, I've never wanted to cuddle him up in my arms so badly.

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

When we arrived at Swedish Medical Center, we were rushed through a series of elevators and corridors to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. A team of doctors, nurses and specialists surrounded my baby while they hooked him up to a plethora of equipment as I watched helplessly from the hallway.

Finally, we were allowed in.


The PICU is a section of the hospital that provides sick children with the highest level of medical care. It allows for intensive nursing care and continuous monitoring of things like heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. It also allows the medical staff to provide intensive therapies like the high flow air treatment that provided Ryder with a constant stream of warm, humidified oxygen combined with helium (a much lighter, easier to breathe gas). The respiratory specialist was also able to use this system to administer periodic doses of epinephrine (so Ryder no longer had to endure the horror of being held down). Additionally, an IV constantly administered fluids and regular doses of a steroid that helped relax and open Ryder's airway to help ease his breathing, as well as pain medication to make him comfortable.

The Days Drag On...

Croup is a viral infection, so there was nothing anyone could give Ryder to "cure" him. Instead, the medical team did everything they could to monitor him and make him comfortable until his own body was able to fight off the virus.

We were told it could be days or even weeks before this might happen. 

Ryder settled into his hospital bed, which meant that either Mommy or Daddy was always in the bed as well, cuddled up next to him, comforting, consoling, and whispering sweet nothings into his ears. For the first couple days he was too sick to smile, speak, or play. He just slept or stared dejectedly around the sterile hospital room.


We all tried to get rest, either in the hospital bed or on a little cot set up in the corner, but it was hard because of constant interruptions by beeping equipment and medical staff coming in to check Ryder's status and give us updates.

Ryder was such a trooper throughout the whole experience. Finally, on about the third day, he really started to improve. Slowly but surely they began to remove some of the equipment as the doctor became more confident in Ryder's ability to breathe on his own. Once the high flow air treatment was removed, he really seemed to perk up and act more like himself.

Going Home

The hospital staff was amazing. The food was ok. The TV was terrible. The monotony and boredom became unreal.

Finally, after four days and three nights in the PICU, we were released so that Ryder could continue his recovery at home. I have never been so happy to see a smile on that little boy's face, as he continually repeated, "Home! Home!" as we packed up to leave.

It's a beautiful day to go home...


Ryder is feeling much, much better. He still has a lingering cough, and is clinging to Mom and Dad like his life depends on it, but he's essentially out of the woods.

Admitting your child to the hospital is not an experience I would wish on anyone. We were all terrified and confused, but the doctors, nurses and staff at Swedish Medical Center really did make our stay as pleasant as possible.

Thank you to everyone who called, messaged, visited and sent their best wishes for Ryder's swift recovery. We know that your positive energy helped him bounce back quickly.

We are so happy to have our happy, healthy boy back!
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  1. Oh Sarah, I am in tears reading this. I can't even begin to imagine how scary this must have been for all of you. So glad to hear that he is on the mend and that life is getting back to normal. Big hugs mama.

  2. Oh my gosh, my heart was breaking reading this. I can even imagine how nervous, scared and anxious you must have been! I am so happy to hear that he is getting better now. I will be praying for all of you!! That poor little guy!

  3. Sarah! What a nightmare! Such a terrifying ordeal for sweet Ryder and mom and dad. Glad he is smiling again and out of the woods.

  4. I am so glad that he's getting back to his old self! Hospitals are definitely not a fun place to have to be. Scott's daughter was in and out of them all the time, and it is such a helpless feeling! I'm glad that the doctors, nurses, and staff were helpful and kind! That definitely helps a lot!

  5. Oh my goodness, I had tears in my eyes reading this...that must have been such a scary experience. So glad to hear he is doing better and hope he continues to improve!!!

  6. Wow this made me cry. Horrible!!! I'm so glad he's ok!

  7. Oh my goodness! Poor Ryder! Poor you guys! So very hard to watch our kids be sick, especially if they're so sick they have to go to the hospital and stay! I'm so sorry this happened but I'm happy to hear he's getting better!!!! Glad the stuff was awesome.

  8. Oh no...I am so sorry your little guy had to go through such a rough glad he will be okay..sending good thoughts and prayers...


  9. It is going to be a long comment so prepare yourself...
    My son had the same problem when he was just over a year old. The only problem for us was it happened on Christmas Eve and we were stuck in the hospital over Christmas with a skeleton staff. Thankfully our hospital is one of the leading in the area for pediatrics. We kept debating about taking ours because everytime we went outside he got better breathing and we thought we were over reacting. When we got to the hospital they told us his airway was no bigger than a piece of spaghetti (I guess that is pretty bad). We rushed from our Christmas Eve with the family to the hospital. Mine is now 5 1/2 and we have had three severe cases that warranted trips to the hospital ER, but have had numerous cases that we were able to treat in the doctor office (usually 2-3 a year, time of year does not matter). Here is what I found worked best for us, and our neighbor's son starting getting croup and has done this treatment after there first visit to the ER.

    Although they say Tylenol does nothing for colds, it really does. For some reason it stops the snot from running and therefore helps with the cough. When you first start seeing a cold that has coughing start administering the Tylenol every four hours. Motrin does not work. I have noticed that if I skip one dose it can turn into croup that easy. When I even hear a slight bark I call the doctor office and make an appointment for croup. I have found that a three day treatment of steroids 1 tsp twice a day will keep the croup at bay. The steroids is the only way to prevent it from a trip to the ER. If you ped doesn't want to do that just ask them to try it this one time.

    Once you start to realize the symptoms of croup coming on you will know and there have been times were I forgot to give my son his last dose of steroids so I would keep it in the fridge and when I would hear the bark start I would give him that and keep the Tylenol going and we wouldn't have to make a trip to the docs.

    We have been doing this for 4 1/2 years and now they tell me he as asthmatic croup, which basically means he is very susceptible to get croup with even the slightest cold. Hope this helps, feel free to email me if you have any questions.

  10. Oh my goodness! I am so sorry your family went through this, but I'm glad it's ending up well, with healing and recovery! Seeing someone you love in pain or hurting or sick is awful, and the helplessness only adds to that - but then when it's a little one - there is an insane clench that goes along with that. Hugs for your whole family.

  11. Oh Satah. I can't even imagine. I'm so glad to read that Ryder is on the mend and doing well. What a scary and awful experience.

  12. oh my goodness. bless your heart! I'm so glad he is doing better. I can relate to this so much, this was me as a kid and I was in ICU numerous times with the croup and asthma etc etc. I know how scary it was and it sounds like you handled it and stayed so calm which I know must have been so hard. Glad little Ryder is out of the woods....he is such a cute baby btw:)!


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