Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ziggy Stardust

Stacy and I are pretty laid-back parents when it comes to medical matters. Sniffles and weird poop don't phase us. Jack is a happy little boy that eats well and tears around all over the house, and that's enough for us.

A little over a month ago, Jack developed a cough. He still ate well, played well, slept well (unless a big cough woke him up), and so we called the doctor to see if it was anything to be concerned about. Not at all, he said. Apparently, there had been something going around which could account for some light coughing for anywhere from three to six weeks, and as long as no other symptoms manifested themselves, it was a minor thing. Well, then, that was that.

On Monday, Jack's cough began to get a little rougher, and the coughing more frequent. Since it is cold season, we got him some infant cold medicine to help handle the coughing, and it helped him to sleep through the night again. He had a pretty rough time at day care yesterday, though, since the cough was preventing him from sleeping, and so he'd get cranky and yell, which would cause more coughing. By the time Stacy arrived, he was pretty worked up -- and Jack knows how to express his displeasure in no uncertain terms.

So Stacy called the doctor and he worked in an appointment for Jack. He noticed that Jack's breathing has gotten a little raspy, and determined that it needed to be dealt with. I expected that antibiotics would be prescribed, and they were; but that's not all. Jack also gets to use a Nebulizer for fourteen days.

What's a Nebulizer? Oh, the miracles of modern technology. I'm not talking about the miracles of modern medical technology -- I'm talking about communications. The miracle by which a layperson such as myself, with close to zero knowledge about medical equipment, gets to expound at length on a piece of medical equipment in front of a worldwide audience. It reminds me of a quote I come across periodically,

“We have gone from a world of concentrated knowledge and wisdom to one of distributed ignorance. And we know and understand less while being increasingly capable.”

Prof. Peter Cochrane, formerly of BT Labs

So, now that we've established that I have little idea what I'm talking about, I think I'll descibe the Nebulizer. It's an air compressor with an attachment which contains a little reservoir, and an open-ended tube above it. The compressor blows warm air through the reservoir, which is filled with a dosage of medicine, and generates a vapor which escapes each end of the tube and Jack breathes in. It's a pretty snazzy little doo-dad, when you get right down to it. It doesn't need to be fed through a mask or held in his mouth -- we've actually been holding it in front of him as he eats Cheerios, and he breathes as he normally would. It takes about ten minutes to exhaust each dose. The doctor prescribed this for Jack four times daily for the next fourteen days. He says it'll knock that congestion clean out.

Here's the funny part. Nebulizers aren't available for rental, at least in our neck of the woods, so we got to buy one. It's pending insurance approval, so I can't guarantee that we'll be paying for it, but I have a feeling that if I took the insurance company out to dinner, we wouldn't both be reaching for the check at the end. I imagine he'd find himself in the restroom when the check arrived. Those big dividends don't come from paying a lot of claims, you know.

So, in fourteen days, I'll have a Nebulizer available for rental in the Milwaukee area. Reasonable rates, friendly service, senior discount.


Grandma Vicki said...

First: I love the quote -- I'm using it at work from now on. I'm in a very specialized field and am constantly running into people who think they understand things they can barely spell!

Second: I'm glad we got to the bottom of the cough -- it concerned me at Halloween and again during painting week-end.

Third: Does this Nebulizer thing work for people who routinely get nasty sinus problems? If so, I may be interested in jumping on that rental idea.

Note: being part of the insurance industry, I'd like to take offense at the severe character assassination hinted at in your comments, but I've met too many people who would fit the description.

Steve said...

Look for more snarky quotes in future entries. I'm always looking for ways to please the readership.