Thursday, January 19, 2006

three things: one bad, two good.

1. ALTE (all-tee) is medicalese for Apparent Life Threatening Episode. And one of the criteria is that the parent is scared that his or her their child might die.

I learned this little fact last week at the emergency room (of all places) where we ended up taking Henry after he experienced an ALTE of his very own.

Here's what happened: It was an unseasonably warm day here in NYC, and I took the babies out for a walk in the park across the street from my house. We got home about an hour and a
half before my baby and me yoga class was scheduled to begin and I put Henry in the crib so that I could feed Jack. The plan was to then feed Henry, pack a bag, change into exercise clothes, and head off to class with Henry. But while I was feeding Jack, I heard Henry crying in his crib. I went in to look at him and he was foaming at the mouth, making gagging noises, and had turned a frightening shade of blue. I yelled for my husband (who happened to be home) who ran in and scooped up Henry. By then, Henry had started breathing again, albeit irregularly. And he had gone from blue to pale. I called the visiting nurse service, not certain if this warranted a call to 911 (after all, he was breathing again) who told me to call my pediatrician. The pediatrician said to bring him right in and without restocking the diaper bag or putting jackets on the boys, we headed for the doctor's office.

Henry was seen right away by a doctor (not our usual doc who was off that day), but another woman who seemed prefectly nice and concerned, but not alarmed. She heard our story, examined Henry, and sent us off to the ER for a series of tests "just to be sure".

At the ER, Henry was examined by a million different doctors, we told the story of the episode at least 25 more times, and the attending on duty told us that he needed to be admitted. The most likely cause of the ALTE? Either RSV, reflux, or an unknown factor. Poor little Henry had to have blood drawn and a mucous culture to rule out a viral cause. He had to have an EKG to make sure the ALTE wasn't cardiac related. And finally he was admitted.

Henry and I spent the night in the hospital. He slept through the night ( a full eight hours!) in an institutional crib- the type you might find in an orphanage. I slept fitfully on a pull out sofa made up with surprising soft hospital linens. In the morning, Henry and I were wheeled to radiology for his head ultrasound. In the afternoon, a neuro tech came by to glue 100 little electrodes to his head to monitor for seizure activity. Henry was visited by med students, by residents, by carology fellows, and neurology specialists. And everysingle one of them asked to hear the story, listened to his heart and lungs, checked his reflexes and then pronounced him seemingly healthy and normal.

When we were discharged on Friday evening, the diagnosis was reflux and Henry was sent home with prescriptions for Zantac and Floven (a steroid for his lungs). My gut feeling tells me that even if Henry does have reflux (and he probably does), the reflux wasn't the cause of the ALTE. Still, I dutifully give him his meds twice a day, felling guilty as he gags and cries thru the whole routine. And I run at the mere hint of cry, praying that I will never ever find him blue in the face again.

2. I've started a playgroup. Well more like a new mommy group since the babies involved are too young to actually play. Our 1st meeting is tomorrow afternoon and I'll let you know how it goes.

3. Jack's first non-reflexive smile. He smiled for his dad yesterday while Henry and I were at the doctor for his follow-up appointment. And then for me this morning when I tickled his cheeks and cooed at him.

This picture isn't the best- my camera wasn't quick enough, but you get the idea.

Edited to add:

He just gets better with practice.


Blogger spiller said...

Oh my goodness, scary!So glad it turned out all right.
That is a great smile..pensive, yet charming.
Can't wait to hear how the playgroup goes!

8:44 AM  
Anonymous amanda said...

How unbelievably scary. I'm so glad everything's ok.

9:05 AM  
Blogger liz said...


I'm glad everything's okay. Your boys are beautiful.

3:09 PM  

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