Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cows Are Flying, Doctors Are Dancing and We're Outta Here!

So after 9 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit which was filled with flying cows and dancing doctors, The Skink is finally back at home... complete with monitors and oxygen. But let me back up a little...

Somewhere around Saturday, The Skink's personality began to slowly reemerge for ever-growing periods of time. While mom and dad continued to add to their sleep deficits, The Skink logged plenty of sleep hours... I mean like practically unconscious... as her body fought the virus in her lungs.

Not to worry! In those short times she was awake, she was devising ways of keeping the doctors, nurses and med students entertained and laughing. Some teachers from her school sent an adorable "Get Well" bear balloon to her. To prevent the balloon from wandering off or entangling itself in the maze of tubes, wires and leads, somebody clipped it to one of the cow's tails. And thus began the game of "Flying Cow, Bouncing Balloon." The Skink quickly learned that if she threw the cow at her favorite med student, the balloon would follow along. If she got lucky, the cow would hit the floor and the med student would get bopped by the balloon.

 Fly my pretty!

While generally one doesn't think of gales of laughter in relation to a hospital ICU, The Skink apparently never got that memo. She was laughing, the med student was laughing, the doctors were laughing, the nurses were laughing, other miscellaneous unrelated parties were laughing... Good times!

In fact The Skink used her time in the PICU to make friends and further prove that designer genes rule. Unfortunately after days and days in bed, when it was time to get up and start moooving... (oops - an impromptu cow joke escaped) she was very unsteady on her feet. On Monday she willingly walked the first time since being hospitalized, clutching daddy's hand... but when we let go and encouraged her to kick a ball in the play room, she lost her balance and fell, hitting her head on a (padded) bench. Of course then she proceeded to become furious with the floor for tipping up when she wasn't expecting it, and at the bench for bonking her noggin. After learning to distrust hospital floors, she wouldn't walk at all! The next day we tried without success to get her up and moving again... It became the mission of all her new friends! And all those doctors and nurses? This is what they did to get The Skink on her feet:

How amazing are these people?

After all that excitement, we could tell The Skink was exhausted. She has lost so much weight and just looked so small and frail, so I scooped her up, plopped her back in bed and threw cows at her to make her giggle again.

By Wednesday The Skink's hair had reached disaster status. All those crazy wires and tubes, not to mention all the sleeping had given her hair the appearance of a giant nest!

Angry Bird likes nesting in messy hairs!

A kind nurse took pity on the poor Angry Bird Skink and washed her nest hair, braided it and found some adorable flower elastics to compliment The Skink's pink hand-me-down jammies!

Please don't look so thrilled, clean Skink!

And finally, today (Thursday) - a full 9 days after our trip to the Emergency Room, the wonderful people of the PICU allowed us to take their Skink away from them. But not without some lovely parting gifts!


Among our booty are an oximeter which tracks her oxygen saturation while she sleeps. Unfortunately the pneumonia has been serious enough (not like pneumonia is generally jovial... ) that The Skink's oxygen saturation still drops dangerously low while she's sleeping. The oximeter will ruthlessly awaken us throughout the night ('cause who needs sleep anyway?) to alert us if The Skink's sats are too low.

And to help keep those sats up...

"Mom... it's bigger 'n I am. Srsly??"
We have this lovely piece of decorative machinery. No seriously - it looks GREAT in our house, and its perfect for stubbing toes on if one gets up in the midst of the night to pee. It also creates a lovely white noise to lull us to sleep... kinda like listening to a jack-hammer.

We also have a nebulizer to provide us with a fun and challenging experience no less than 3 times a day. But it doesn't stop there, folks! If you call now you'll also receive about 2,871 feet of airline tubing to run from all your new and fun pieces of equipment to your Skink! All of this for one low payment of...

 OK - thanks Willie! I'll take it from here...

Of course with all the bells and whistles The Skink has to wear while she sleeps, it has become quite necessary for us to prevent her from getting out of bed and running around the house. That doesn't generally work too well if you have a oximeter attached to one toe and a giant jack-hammer oxygen machine attached to your face by a fraction of that 2,871 feet of tubing.

Unfortunately The Skink doesn't usually stay in her bed and is quite adept at climbing out of cribs. We also need her in our room so we can mess with the jack-hammer if her sats drop too low.

A number of years ago we invested in a PeaPod Travel Bed which is like a mini pop-up tent that you zip your kiddo into when you are away from home. That would have worked great for our needs, except that ours is a few years old... it has holes big enough for The Skink to crawl right out of (as we learned the hard way on our last camping trip). We're a bit short on funds right now, so dropping another $83.95 on a way to confine The Skink was going to be a bit too much... Luckily Brandy had a great idea!

I made a quick run to Target and got a Boots & Barkley Large Pop Up Dog Kennel. It actually has MORE room than the PeaPod did, and the fitted dog bed I got for it is way more comfortable than the mini air mattress that comes with the PeaPod. We set it up at the end of our bed, put clean sheets in it and The Skink's comforter and cows. The oxygen tubing and the oximeter cord come right out between the two zippers which meet at the bottom of the kennel bed. 

Now don't get me wrong! I do not condone the use of a dog kennel for confining children. This is just a creative, cheap, temporary solution to keep The Skink in one place for her own health and safety while she finishes her bout with kennel cough pneumonia. It is very important that we are able to keep the monitor and the oxygen on her when she sleeps. As I write this, she is sleeping very comfortably with the oxygen pumped up to 5! Yes - her sats are dropping too low at any rate lower than 5 right now.                           

    ...and besides - honestly, what is the difference between an over-priced pop-up tent marketed for children and a similar (yet more roomy) pop-up contraption made out of identical material and marketed for dogs? I'll tell you what! The price! And maybe the label, but whatever, right?

And with that, I leave you with "random tree picture." I shot this out the car window as I sat in the pharmacy drive-through waiting to pay for a giant bag of medications.



  1. The thing looks like an R2 unit from Star Wars.

  2. picture of the doggy/child bed, please. so glad you are all finally home. :o)

  3. What a great post! That video was super. What a great crew of people!!
    So glad you're all back home and feeling better. That was a long haul for your Princess!!!

  4. You are oh so creative! I love it and what I'm glad to hear you are home, I'm hoping we are not taking your place at the hospital as Sam was just diagnosed with inner and outer ear infection and a touch of pneumonia, add to that his throwing up and I don't really know what is going on. Hope you can get rid of the oxygen soon!!


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