Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Legos are for Building, not Breathing

Our Monday was filled with so many firsts... first trip to the ER, Ben's first operation, and our family's first and (please, God!) last foreign object from the lung extraction surgery.

Sure, this may look like a healthy almost-eight-year-old lung... and it is, except for the teeny Lego that is lodged in the right bronchial.

I can hear you thinking right now, "Hmm... Jamie, I'm not a trained medical professional, but I don't think that Legos are supposed to be in lungs."  Right you are, astute reader, Legos don't belong in lungs!

Since it's impossible to see the Lego in the xray, here's my recreation of actual events.  This isn't the right Lego, the actual inhaled Lego was a one-stud triangle, but you get the idea.

You're probably wondering, "How does one get a Lego into one's lung?  And, more importantly, how does one get it out?"

This particular adventure began on Saturday when Ben rode his bike to Smith's (the grocery store up the street) to use his allowance money to purchase two extra chocolate Easter bunnies, because you never know when you'll experience an unacceptable chocolate shortage. The twist here is that he rode his bike to Smith's with a little Lego in his mouth (this is not the time to ask why) and on the way home managed to inhale it.

When Ben got home with his chocolate bunnies he was visibly shaken and after a little coaxing told us that he breathed in a Lego. Good parents that we are, we determined that he wasn't blue, so it probably wasn't super urgent, and Steve called our pediatrician for advice. The pediatrician said that if his airway wasn't obstructed, which it wasn't, that Ben probably just swallowed the Lego, since that's what the human body is designed to do with foreign objects. The doc advised us that if Ben started wheezing or coughing (harder than you might think since most of our family has chest colds right now), then maybe he really did swallow it.

So, we put Ben under observation (read: enjoyed the remainder of our Saturday, Sunday service, an Easter egg hunt, copious candy, and Easter dinner) and assumed that his body did its job and that the Lego was working its way through his digestive tract. But by Sunday night it became obvious to even non-medical professionals like ourselves that Ben's chest was kinda whistly when he breathed and the cough was getting worse.

So Monday morning Steve took Ben into the pediatrician's office where they immediately confirmed the whistly breathing and sent him downstairs to the adjoining hospital for an xray. The tech and doctor agreed that Ben probably had a "foreign body in bronchial" and advised us to head up to the ER at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake.

At this point Steve and I swapped duties and he took the girls home for much-needed naps while Ben and I headed up to Primary Children's. We are so blessed to have a wonderful children's hospital just an hour away.

Over the next three hours, Ben was seen by 3 nurses, a respiratory therapist, 2 doctors, and 2 surgeons and at the end of it all they decided that the odds were pretty good that he had, in fact, inhaled the Lego and that surgery was the best option.

In between recounting the Lego-in-the-mouth episode to each new medical professional and having them listen to his lungs over and over again (he didn't particularly enjoy either, but was a brave little toaster), Ben busied himself by messing with the oxygen sensor on his toe and trying to get the numbers to change by holding his breath and squeezing his toe. Fortunately, it didn't work, his oxygen levels stayed frustratingly healthy.

By the time he changed into a gown, we had been in the hospital for several hours and we discovered that the room had a TV. That was a welcome distraction because by this point Ben was starting to get pretty nervous about the whole surgery thing.

The surgeon explained that they knock him out (ok, the surgeon said he's "go to sleep") and the stick a camera scope down his throat and look for the Lego and, if they found it, they'd pull it out. I asked how they removed it and he told me that they can use either suction or a grabber thingie (I'm sure he called it something different, but that's the name I remember). I asked if it was like a garbage picker-upper claw and he, bemused, confirmed my suspicions.

Ben went into surgery at 3:45 and by 4:15 the fabulous Dr. Rollins found me and shared the good news that they found the Lego exactly as Ben had described it (down to the color!) and successfully extracted the pesky foreign body. They used the grabber (I know you were curious).

It was lodged in the first division of the bronchial on his right-hand side, which is apparently the most common place for foreign bodies to hang out because the right side is more of a straight drop down from the throat than the left side. He said that there was a lot of irritation and he'd probably cough a little for a few days, but other than that he should be right as rain as soon as he recovered from the anesthesia.

I got to go see Ben in recovery about a half hour later and, although he was way less upset than Sasha was coming out of anesthesia (I still have horrid flashbacks of that surgery), Ben is a grouchy drunk. He was mad about the IV, shivering, and pretty miserable. But by the end of his Popsicle and second slushie his spirits were improving, the coughing was lessening, and the medicine was wearing off (those are all related, I'm sure) and he was moved into a regular room.

By 6:30, he was feeling good enough to eat and another slushie, a milkshake, a bowl of mac and cheese, and a bowl of ramen noodles later, Ben was starting to feel like himself again. We watched another movie and by 8 he was ready for discharge! It's pretty amazing that we went from first consultation with our pediatrician, through surgery, and all the way back home again with a Lego in a specimen cup (not a lung!) in the span of 12 hours. It sure makes a mommy grateful for great doctors, awesome technology, and a God who makes such astounding and resilient bodies.

And a big shout out to Primary Children's Medical Center who, in Ben's words, "really know how to take care of a kid." The sad face in this picture is because Ben was mourning leaving the treats. I think he enjoyed the all-the-slushies-you-can-suck-down diet. Well, he enjoyed it at the end... the middle part not so much.

Here's hoping the rest of our week is boring in comparison to our Monday!


Luciana said...

Oh my goodness! Hurray for a speedy Lego-retrieval. What a day you guys had. I'm glad Ben's alright. Hope you have a boring rest of week and for a while also. This post is AMAZING down to the Lego-in-lung diagram and all. LOL! You guys are so cool.

Lori Printy said...

after your detailed (and humorous) account all I can think is "really this is your FIRST time to the ER?" You have a better track record than we do....keep it that way:).

So glad Ben's ok.

The Robeys said...

Glad to hear everything went well and the Lego is where it belongs. Loved the post inspite of the circumstances. Hopefully this will be your one and only lego extraction.

Jennifer said...

Glad it worked out ok with no adverse side affects!

Lou Ann said...

You are my kind of mom. Taking pictures throughout the ordeal. Even talking the surgeon into letting you take his picture with the extraction!

I hope you're still up for your trip to Seattle and our visit. It will be fun to finally meet you IRL!!

Lou Ann & Lexie too

Anonymous said...

What an adventure! I had to smile at those pictures though, and yes, if this is your first trip to the ER, you're doing pretty well! I'm glad Ben's ok.

Beth said...

What?! You have 4 kids (including 2 boys) and this is your FIRST trip to the ER? You are parents of the century in my book! Wish we had such a good track record. :) Glad it was fixed quickly with no lasting harm. Smart doctors and resilient bodies are indeed amazing gifts... What a great story for Ben to share with his friends.

Beth said...

What?! You have 4 kids (including 2 boys) and this is your FIRST trip to the ER?! You are parents of the century in my book! Wish we had such a good track record. :) Glad it was fixed quickly with no lasting harm. Smart doctors and resilient bodies are indeed amazing gifts... What a great story for Ben to share with his friends.

Laura García said...

Me alegro de que todo saliera bien!
Un abrazo para Ben!

Laura García said...

I'm glad that everything went well!
A hug for Ben!

With love,

Madelyn said...

Grateful all turned out well.

Mark Parratt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Parratt said...

What a well written saga. Glad to hear a happy and successful ending.

China Dreams said...

Oh, my gosh! We have Leg-Os all over our house and they show up in all sorts of strange places, but never this! Glad everything turned out okay and hope it is the last time.



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