Monday, February 1, 2010

Just Call Me M.D.

Lydia has had a cough for a week or so along with a stuffy nose. She will cough really violently and then gag a little bit. It's not her most becoming behavior.

On Saturday evening, I felt like it was getting worse, so I called our MedLink line to talk to doctor, so I would know what to watch out for and at what point we should be concerned. They patched us through to a nurse, who asked us to check Lydia's respiratory rate--how many breaths she was taking in a minute. She told us that 20-25 was normal, and if she was above 35 breaths per minute, we should take her to the Emergency Room. She wasn't at 35, so she went to bed and slept well.

On Sunday, she was still coughing, and after talking to the nurse, I was checking her respiratory rate and found it to be in the high 30s and low 40s. Granted she had been playing and was a bit worked up, so I called the MedLink line back, hoping to get a different person on the phone. I have gotten sketchy advice from a nurse over the phone once before and was able to call back and talk to a doctor, so I was hopeful that I could get some more clear, less extreme advice.

No luck. The same nurse gave me the same information, basically telling me that we needed to take Lydia in to Dell Children's ER. After looking in our handy copy of Baby 411 (only the best baby resource book ever), I started to doubt her advice. According to Baby 411, a normal respiratory rate for a child between 2 and 12 months old is 24-38. Lydia was showing no signs of being uncomfortable or a struggle to breathe. She was smiling and playing, but all I could hear was the nurse on the phone: "RSV is going around, RSV is going around, RSV is going around." (My one real freak-out during this whole thing was when I was trying to convey all of this to Robin while looking for information about respiratory rates and signs of RSV on the computer. He asked me what RSV was. Big mistake. "RSV?!?! Haven't you read the books?!?! Why am I explaining this to you? You can read them, too!) I was under duress. Consider this my public apology to Robin.

I called the person I always do when I just don't know what to do with Lydia--my doula, Kristin. She affirmed my hesitation of bringing Lydia in to the ER, but didn't have specific advice about normal respiratory rates for a baby her age, so she suggested I call Dell Children's and talk to them over the phone. As she pointed out, they wouldn't want me bringing a perfectly healthy baby in to the ER and using up their time, just like I didn't want to bring Lydia in and expose her to the for-real scary stuff that is in hospitals.

The nurse at Dell Children's seemed a little confused with what I was saying. Granted, I was spewing numbers and may have forgotten to tell her what I was talking about. She was like, "So is your baby showing any other symptoms?" "Ugh, no..." I felt like a bit of a fool. She told me that if Lydia's Respiratory Rate got over 50 breaths a minute to bring her in, but otherwise she was fine.

I was so glad I listened to my hesitation. We brought Lydia in yesterday just to get her checked, and she has a cold. Today she coughed twice. I told Dr. Bell about the nurse and she was incredibly apologetic that we were not put through to a pediatrician. So apologetic that she gave me her personal number to call if we ever are in a similar situation. (She told me she knew we wouldn't abuse it, and this made me feel like a cool, calm, collected mom. I used to search for coolness in record stores, clothing boutiques. Now my mark of cool is the pediatrician giving me her cell phone number to call in case of emergency. What does this mean?) I doubt we will ever have to use the number, but I was pretty amazed that she went that far. I wasn't even upset that we talked to a nurse; I just wanted a not-crazy nurse.

So next question: when do I get my honorary MD? I think I'm doing pretty well so far, right?


  1. Um, what's RSV????? I bet I'm supposed to know this but I don't. Does that mean Gramma Mree is never allowed to babysit Lydia again?

    Gramma Mree

  2. FYI, Craig has an honorary doctorate. Maybe you could talk to him about acquiring honorary things.