As many times as I have heard a doctor on Grey’s Anatomy yell “stat” or “get a crash cart,” I have never heard those frantic statements at Vanderbilt Children’s. Though I am only there one day each week you would think that I would have experienced this sort of thing. But thankfully, I haven’t. Well, that was until today. This morning I observed two swallow studies, one with an 11 year old who chokes on solids yet today did perfectly, and a four month old with severe shaken baby syndrome. That one was absolutely horrible. But she’s making incredible progress and though she will be dealing with the residual effects of the unthinkable actions of her father for the rest of her life, she is doing remarkably well.
Next we headed to the floors and saw the most adorable 12 month old, diagnosed with severe respiratory distress and croup. He was dressed in Batman pajamas and had the biggest blue eyes I have ever seen. His dad claimed that he is 10-0 in staring contests with those things J
But despite his smiles and all of the cuddles he was giving my supervisor as we took him for a walk around the unit, the poor thing sounded like he could barely breathe. The doctors reported that his airway had been reduced to the size of a pinhole and he was receiving breathing treatments multiple times a day just to keep it open. After taking him for a walk we told Mom and Dad that we would be back to try a feeding with him in a few hours. We then moved on to check on some other patients.
While in one of the cardiac pods we heard an alarm go off and a “stat” was called for the VCH 8th floor. My supervisors face went pale and she said, “I hope that’s not our baby.” Sure enough, the little one in the Batman pajamas had crashed and the emergency ICU team went running past us towards his pod. The doctors here are the best at what they do and this routine is old hat for them but that doesn’t mean that my heart didn’t drop into my stomach when I saw them racing to little Batman’s room. Luckily, they were able to get his breathing and heart rate under control and they made a plan to move him into the PICU. Though this may technically be a step backwards, he will now be monitored closely at all times and they will hopefully figure out how to help him breathe more easily. Despite all this drama, we ended the day on a high note after stopping by to see a NICU baby with a cleft palate and we watched him eat by mouth with relative success after many, many failed attempts!
Despite the hard stuff, it can be a pretty magical place sometimes!