About a month ago, 6-month-old Isabella spent five days in the hospital with Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV. When we have a common cold, it most likely is RSV, but for children younger then one, it can be very serious because their lungs are not strong enough to cough out the congestion, so they are usually admitted into the hospital for treatment and monitoring. I wanted to share my experience so parents will be aware of this illness and know what to expect in the hospital.
Sequence of Events
- Thursday: Isabella had a congested-crackly-junky cough that was getting worse throughout the day.
- Friday: Went to the doctor. It was just a bad cough. If I had a nebulizer at home, the doctor would’ve had me use it, but the cough was not bad enough to go out and rent one. Went home with instructions to water down her milk and formula, steam her in the shower, and use a humidifier.
- Saturday: Spiked a fever over 104 and could not break it with Infant Tylenol. I called the doctor in the evening and she recommended Advil because it worked better on high fevers. Fever finally dropped lower then 100.
- Sunday: Even though her fever was hovering around 100, she was very warm and sweaty because she was working hard to breath. Things were getting worse throughout the day. She was eating less because it was hard for her to eat and breath at the same time. In the evening when she was sleeping, she was flush and sweaty from breathing and her chest was pulling hard. I was going to the doctor first thing in the morning.
- Monday: The doctor took one look at Isabella and knew something was wrong. She called over to the hospital to let them know we would be coming to be tested for RSV. Isabella tested positive for RSV. This, plus her oxygen levels were less then 90 lead to admittance into the hospital.
- Monday – Friday: Isabella and I stayed in a private room. Since RSV is a virus, there isn’t a prescription to cure it. The treatment is to help the lungs breath so they can circulate the oxygen and clear out the congestion. She slept in her car seat because this was the best position for her lungs to breath. I had to account for the number of ounces she drank, how many pee and poopy diapers, and the nurses weighed her diapers to make sure she was eating and excreting normally. Isabella received a breathing treatment with a nebulizer and Albuterol and Xopenex solution, steroids to open up her lungs, and oxygen. An oxygen machine measured her progress of getting better. We could go home when her oxygen levels were above 90 during the day and night without receiving oxygen. Because we were in the hospital, her treatments were around the clock. They started off every three hours and then moved to every four hours as she became better. By the third day her oxygen was above 90 throughout the day. During the night, her oxygen levels would dip to the low 80’s and she needed oxygen. Though this is normal, it was very frustrating when she was feeling much better, getting more active, and we were both anxious to be home. Finally, the fourth night her oxygen was above 90 without oxygen (Thank Goodness!), and we could go home!
My Personal Notes
- It was scary to see your baby working so hard to breath. If I did not already have an appointment Monday morning for Isabella’s 6-month check up, I would have gone to the hospital Sunday night. In hindsight, I should have went to the hospital Sunday night because I knew there was something very wrong with her breathing.
- The hardest part of the hospital stay was watching her get an IV put in. Baby’s veins are small and move fast and it is not unusual to have multiple attempts. Thankfully, the nurse got it in the first attempt.
- This is hard on a parent both physically and emotionally. It is physical because you do not sleep. You are too busy taking care of your baby, giving her nebulizer treatments, and looking for signs she is getting better. It is emotional because you are worried, you are claustrophobic being confined to a hospital room and floor, and you are anxious to go home.
- You get a reality check being on a Pediatric floor of a hospital. There are many babies and children that stay in hospitals much longer then five days and have treatments much stronger then a nebulizer. You realize how blessed you are.
Here are some pictures of our stay.
The oxygen monitor was taped to Isabella’s toe.
To keep the IV in, she had a little baby splint.
Isabella taking her nebulizer treatment.
Isabella feeling better and eating her cookie.