Monday, February 02, 2009

Amy in hospital

It's been a week, but I feel I have a little time now to sit down and write up about it without either having to rush off to the hospital again, burst into tears or rant and rave about doctors and hospitals. Which I'll probably do anyway, actually.

She started coughing quite a lot more last weekend, but I thought it was a cold. We stayed in on Saturday due to the snow, then went to visit friends on Sunday. On the way home from that visit she didn't stop coughing, and I realized I was going to have to take her to the hospital. She got quickly diagnosed, but then the doctor kept questioning me about why wasn't she being seen already for her asthma? She'd finished her visits and stopped her medication quite some time ago. I said she didn't have it so of course I didn't come, but he asked if she'd had no coughing at all, and I said yes some, so we'd got ventolin off the doctor in NZ, and used that, but that didn't seem to be enough for him. More talking, he made me feel so bad, like it was all my fault and I was stupid. I can't be bothered going into it right now, it was too confusing.

We went home that day, but she didn't sleep much, nor I, listening to her wheeze. We came back in the morning, and she was admitted (with another doctor). She was in a pretty bad shape that day, with a low fever, and very confused, kept asking me where she was and why, over and over. She was put on the usual cough suppressant and anti-allergy drugs, and IV steroids, and 3-hourly nebulizer treatment. Not a puffer anywhere.

She's slowly gotten happier and healthier every day. She was kind of excited about all the fuss on Monday, and had a new lease of life after getting a big dose of reliever on the nebulizer, so she was okay that night. The next day though, we shifted into a room already full with three others, 2 babies and a 3-year old, everyone with curtains pulled making the room feel so small and crowded. She was exhausted, and didn't do her usual favorite activities of drawing and coloring. Just alternated between flopping on the bed and complaining.

By Wednesday the room had cleared out a little, and Amy was ready to come home! No chance of that yet. The last baby went home, and a 5-year old boy moved in. They've made friends now and play all day with dinosaurs. They took her drip out on Sunday, and we truly thought we'd be home today, but were disappointed this morning when the usual doctor came back and said they'd reduce the nebulizer drugs first and see how she coped before she went home. I suggested coming up to the hospital to do the nebulizer, but the doctor thought that would be too hard on her. So we're stuck there again for another night at least, and possible two more.

This time, as a primary school student, we are not supposed to stay overnight, though we are free to come and go at pretty much any time, so we can be there when she sleeps and arrive again in time for her to wake up. That's usually Kanji, as I am busy with Erica. He stayed with her the first night, when she was in a 2-bed room alone, and he could take the second bed. I really hated leaving her that second night! I left early, and Kanji stayed until she slept, then I stayed until she slept on Wednesday. As time's gone on, she's gotten used to it, takes herself to the toilet alright, knows where the nurse call button is, and I left my phone with her the first night so she could call home anytime.

The hardest part is balancing out her care with Erica's. Two children needing 24-hr care in two different locations. Hmm. Every bit as hard as it sounds. After a few days we settled into a routine, with Kanji going to Amy at about 6:30, when she wakes up, then to work at 7:00. Meanwhile, I get Lena and Erica up, and take them to Baachan's for breakfast. I leave for the hospital, getting there around 7:30, while Baachan takes Lena to school and Jiichan watches Erica. She then stays there until nearly 1pm - an unprecedentedly long time for my Mummy's-Girl Erica! But she's coping very well, and has even gotten used to going to sleep without Mummy or the carseat, which might come in handy when we get to NZ!

1pm Kanji finishes work and I take Erica home to clean, do dishes, laundry, cook dinner and wait for Lena to get home from school. We have an early bath, then I take them back to Baachan's around 6-7pm, so I can spend the last few hours with Amy. It means Lena and Erica don't get to bed until after 9pm but you can't have everything can you. Consequently, they are both tired and moody this week. Lena also misses Amy terribly, and can't wait for her to get home. Erica is clingy when she finally gets hold of me and more whiney than usual, and is not sleeping as well at night. But after a few hours together at home she relaxes and calms down.

Amy plays with the boy, draws, colors, watches DVDs and Japanese TV, and goes to school. Yes, they have a school-room, and a teacher coming up from a nearby primary school to give her lessons - four a day, 45-minutes each, which is quite a lot for a kid who's not well, especially when you consider how much of the school day consists of organizing and arranging and passing out papers and handing them in, etc, so that the kids probably don't do more than 2 hours of actual work, and even less time talking to the teacher. Compared to that 4 x 45 minutes of one person hanging over your shoulder must be quite exhausting! She's better off with it though, not only so she doesn't get behind (Japanese school being so very competitive) but it also breaks up her day and prevents cabin fever and her getting tired of her coloring and drawing.

At the hospital I eat my breakfast, instant oatmeal, far too many snacks, and sandwiches or salad for lunch, and endless cups of tea from the kitchenette, which, in typical Japanese fashion, doesn't have a rubbish bin. I've taken to wearing a mask and carrying an anti-bacterial wipe with me every time I go, to try to avoid the influenza that's also on the ward. I wouldn't want to add that to Amy's woes (or my guilt-list). I managed to get the nurse to change the sheets today too, which was a favor, as they are not usually done until Wednesdays, but I convinced her that since we'd been in the same sheets since last Monday, we really needed to change them! I anticipated this happening this time, and brought a cover sheet for the bed that I can take home and wash.

I end up alternating between rushing round like a headless chicken doing shopping, chores and picking up and dropping off children, and hours of downtime at the hospital reading or quietly playing chess with Amy, or at home watching telly while Erica tries to catch up on her breastfeeding.

So of course, we are all aching to get back to normal life. Although I will keep up Erica's newfound love of her grandies, and take her there at least once a week for a long extended play day. She went to sleep on Jiichan's back this morning - reminded me I had meant to ask Baachan how to do the Japanese 'ombo-hime', a way of tying babies to your back. When she did it with Lena, she somehow got her stuck on there with just a long piece of material wrapped and tied this way and that. But this morning she came out with something with a seat and leg-holes in addition to all the straps and ties, in faded red and gold spotted velvet. It's as kitch as it sounds, she must have dug for hours upstairs to find it!


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about Amy, but she sounds like she is almost back to her regular self! Sending you cyber hugs!!!

Lulu said...

Oh poor Amy- I am so sorry to hear she has been sick!!!

I am glad to hear she is on the improve though. I hope things return to normal soon.

I get asthma too so I feel her pain- that scary feeling of being unable to breathe is always shocking.

gaijin wife said...

Cricky! What a mission for you and poor Amy having to be there all on her own. Bloody Asthma - and whats with the no inhalers? Do they not exist in Japan? Let us know when you are all better and back to normal and Marina and I will come and visit.

Good if Erica likes Jiichan - and you can incorporate an extended play date round there into your weekly routine!

Ganbatte. I feel bad whinging about all my shite when you have had such a hard week :(

Jo Tomooka said...

Sounds like things are not so great there. I hope Amy finally settles back into normal life soon. Let me know if I can help at all.
Still no seats on grab-a-seat yet.... I'll keep looking and let you know. NZ will be paradise after this week for you!

Trisha said...

So sorry to hear that Amy has been sick. But it sounds like you handled it really well.

Rachel said...

Thanks for the get-wells. I've never had asthma, so I don't know what it feels like, but she was quite scared this time. I'm glad I sound like I handled it well, I felt like a wreck and a failure!

Katy, I don't think you got off lightly - one of my hospital-survival mantras is "at least I'm not on a plane with toddlers"!