Friday, August 14, 2009
The Stress Never Ends
Let Sleeping Babies Lie
We are coming off a rough week, technology wise. It all began over last weekend, when I noticed that the humidifier on the oxygen concentrator wasn't bubbling as it's supposed to. (Fortunately, a respiratory therapist told me it IS supposed to bubble!) The humidifier is a small plastic container filled with water that the oxygen passes through on its way to Andrea. It helps moisten the oxygen, which helps keep Andrea's nose from becoming too congested.
Well, since I knew the humidifier was supposed to bubble, and it wasn't, I did what all good techies do when something isn't working. I took it apart, and put it back together again. Lo and behold, it started to bubble, and I believed all was right with the world.
Fast forward to Monday afternoon....I was feeding Andrea and she fell asleep, so I put her down in her crib. As I watched her sleep, I thought her color didn't look right, so I attached the PulseOx sensor (which we use primarily at night) to check her oxygen saturation levels. She should be between 97 and 100%. She was at 79%! Since we never know if the problem is the technology or the baby, I immediately connected her to one of the free standing oxygen tanks we have in the house for traveling, or if the power goes out. Her "sats" shot up to 100% in seconds. So, now we know the concentrator is wonky again. However, THIS time, the humidifier is bubbling away, so who knows what's wrong?
I called our O2 supply company, who send a technician out to look at the concentrator, and replace it if needed. He got here and repeated my solution from the weekend.... took everything apart and put it back together. Lo and behold, it worked again. Still, he left a "back up" concentrator, in case we had problems over night. The only problem is that the "back up" concentrator doesn't allow us to go down to a flow of .25. The lowest setting is .5 liters per minute. Still, in an emergency, it would have been OK. She was on .5 for weeks... a few extra hours wouldn't hurt her.
We made it though Monday night without incident, and I thought we were in the clear. No such luck.... Tuesday afternoon, I again notice that the humidifier isn't bubbling. I check Andrea's sats, and she's in the high 70s. I call the O2 company AGAIN, by this time one short step away from a total meltdown. I beg and plead for some help. Because Andrea is a baby, she can't tell us she feels short of breath. We have to rely on the visual clues (Thank you KL et al @ RWJUH!) and the PulseOx. The company promised to send out a technician, and a replacement concentrator that can accommodate the .25 liters of flow.
While waiting for the repair, I got a call from a respiratory therapist at the O2 company who wanted to try to troubleshoot the problem with me. We began by checking all the connections, which are fine. The concentrator is working correctly, or we'd have alarms and warning lights. The respiratory therapist asked me if we have another humidifier in the house, which we did. I'm told to swap it out and see what happens. Lo and behold.... we have FOUND THE PROBLEM!!! Apparently, the humidifiers wear out over time, and need to be replaced. (It would have been helpful to know this up front!) The respiratory therapist told me to replace it every week. The technician told me to replace it whenever it stops working. Well, since we only know it stops working when Andrea turns purple, I'll be replacing it every week.
So, I am one short step away from a nervous breakdown. I'm still pumping milk for Andrea, so I can't drown my sorrows in a nice glass of gin. Those of you willing to imbibe, have one for me... I really need it!
Not all the news is bad... I'll write a post over the weekend, with all the positive things that have been going on. There are many. I just had to vent my frustrations with the technology!