Friday, January 28, 2011

Learning From Experience

I'm a pretty reflective person, but having Abby has really caused me to look at things I do and why I do them in a totally different way.  With each new experience God gives me with my high-maintanence girl, I try to pause and think about how I'm feeling, what is going well, and what should change.

Cue reflection of Tuesday's events!!

As much as I hated the whole experience and would love to never have to go through something like that again, I am thankful that my first time was with my nurse and that I was able to learn from her.  While I'll never be comfortable in an emergency, I do feel like I would be able to handle it.

But we realized that we had some changes to make as well.  You think that you have everything in place for an emergency and plan so carefully, but you never know if it's right until it's really happening.  For one, the placement of our emergency trach was no good.  It was hanging from the IV pole where I couldn't get to it easily, and the plastic bag was hard to get off of the pole.  As I mentioned before, the package was really hard to open.  So, I made a few changes to that whole set-up by taking the trach out and putting pre-cut trach ties on it (yes, it is supposed to be sterile but the part that needs to stay sterile is the cannula (the part that goes into her body) and it was never touched.  We all agreed that having a technically non-sterile trach that is easy to get to in an emergency is much safer than wasting precious time trying to get everything set up.)  Then I hung the bag that the emergency stuff is in in a much more accessible area. 

We also decided to keep the O2 tubing connected to the ventilator, even though Abby doesn't typically get O2.  This way, if there is an issue, we can quickly turn the tank on and Abby can still get the pressure support she needs through the ventilator.  We have the ambu bag connected to the portable tank right next to her bedside cart so that it can be easily accessed.

The old ambu bag was put away because it does not have anything on it to show that the oxygen is flowing.  I was SO worried that it wasn't going because I couldn't hear or see any evidence!  The ambu bag we got from the hospital has a small balloon that inflates when air is flowing, so you can be certain that the oxygen is working.  I never really thought much of the old one not having the balloon on it, but it terrified me on Tuesday!  Thankfully, her color somewhat came back, so we knew she was getting it.

I typed up a brief medical history for Abby with her medicines, doses, diagnoses, doctors' names and phone numbers, etc.  I have all of this in my binder, but wanted a concise sheet that I could hand the medical personnel.  Plus, it cuts down on the amount of questions that I have to answer!  We're printing multiple copies to have in both cars, the to-go bag, etc. 

I also wrote an "In Case of Emergency" list that will be posted right by the front door to remind us of everything we need to take with us.  In my rush, I forgot my medical binder and the nursing binder, which had some information that would have been helpful.  (My mom brought it later to the hospital, but it would have been better to have it right off the bat!)  This list will be a quick check-off when our heads are spinning and the adrenaline is pumping.  Similarly, I wrote a "Do You Have" list of everything that needs to go with us whenever we take Abby anywhere.  This stemmed from the fact that the portable oxygen tank was left at home when we were discharged and we had to beg our supply company to bring us another one!  Who knows how much that'll cost us...

Since we were without some of the essentials during this last trip to the hospital, I decided to pack Matt and I a to-go bag as well!  Shampoo was the LAST thing on my mind when the ambulance left!  I have a bag packed with a change of clothes for both of us and basic toiletries in case of emergency.  The bag will stay in our closet all packed and ready to grab in an emergency.

I've made a bunch of phone calls to the dispatch and hospital to ensure that everyone is aware of Abby's condition and has us on the alert list.  CC just doesn't see many vented patients, and especially not ones so small, so I just need to make sure that everyone is extremely prepared.  Afterall, we live in CC and chances are, unfortunately, that there will be future emergencies.  I need to ensure Abby's safety!

Side Note:  I am well aware that 99% of you probably have no clue what I'm talking about here.  I know it's a bunch of medical mumbo-jumbo.  Until 3 months ago, it was foreign to me as well.  Feel free to ask me to clarify if you need some explanation! :)

Terrifying ordeal?  YES!  But we're bouncing back, learning from our experience, and thanking God for all of the ways He provided for us on that day.  Here are a few:

*  Just 15 minutes before the incident, I was alone with Abby.  Had it occurred just 15 minutes before, I would have had to handle it all by myself.
*  If this had occured on Wednesday during the snow, we probably wouldn't have been able to fly and the ambulance surely wouldn't have been able to respond as quickly.
*  My respiratory therapist attached and tested a travel circuit for our portable vent "just in case of emergency" only the day before.  We now understand the importance of keeping a circuit ready and attached!
*  Caleb was at school and was already being picked up by my sister.

God was certainly watching out for Abby that day, and we are so thankful for His provision and for the prayers of all of you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so impressed w/ you Julie! You are so organized & as crazy as your "new life" might be, you are turning it into your "normal" so beautifully. It has been incredible watching Abby's journey & we are all so encouraged by everything you & Matt are doing. You guys are always in our prayers! :)
Jen (L)