Friday, November 26, 2010

Thank God For Nurse Natalie!

So today we had our first "emergency" situation... The power randomly went out and it was one of the worst case scenarios - Skylar was on bi-pap. Some of you may not understand how this could be a "worst case" but let me try to explain...

Skylar's bi-pap is a machine that adds pressure to her breaths so she can fully expand her lungs and get the air that she needs. There is no oxygen added - just room air - but it does have a back up rate in case she were to quit breathing like a ventilator. It is non-invasive so she wears a little triangle mask over her nose only (it doesn't cover her mouth at all). There are pictures of it in the last two blog posts I think... The bi-pap allows her body to take a break since she's not breathing so hard to get the oxygen she needs - her heart rate is typically lower, which is good, and she gets great sleep too. We also get great sleep because we know she is resting well and doesn't need constant suctioning since a lot of the mucous is pushed out her mouth from the high pressure. Some mucous, however, can get into her lungs - which is why we do a cough assist treatment every time we take her off bi-pap. The absolute worst case scenario would be that the power would be out first thing in the morning because she has sooooooo much mucous built up from the night and it gets really thick - it would definitely require the cough assist to clear her airways.

So hopefully that helps you understand some. Skylar was on her bi-pap for a nap and I was on SMAspace replying to some discussions about mucous plugs and calling 911. I realized I told Natalie that we're the first people to call in an emergency if no one else is around (not that I plan on leaving her alone, but just in case...) and not to call 911 before she talks to us. So after answering some discussions, I went back to correct myself with Natalie. I told her that if the power were to go out and she was alone, that would be the only case in which she would call 911 first before us. I told her that we have been meaning to get the right cables to hook up the battery and inverter in the van, but wanted to make sure the van could handle the power drain and it wasn't going to hurt anything since it's not technically our van... needless to say, we still need to get the cables. We haven't gotten a generator because the van would serve as the back-up power, but not so much anymore. She asked me what we would do and I told her we would pack up the bi-pap and suction machine and hang out in the van as long as we could. We don't have any external power ready yet for the cough assist (it requires a pure sine wave - I can't explain it so I'm not going to try). We have a small inverter that you would typically use for a laptop - or something like that - which we use for the bi-pap and then the suction machine has a cigarette adapter made for it. I then told her word for word, "Knock on wood, our neighbor told us they've only had 2 power outages in the 10 years that they've lived here so hopefully we will never have to experience that."

Not five minutes later, Skylar woke up from her nap at 3:20 this afternoon. I was in the kitchen cleaning my plate and I heard this horrible beeping sound. My first thought was "that sounds like the low battery beep on her feeding machine, but it's slightly different and I know the feeding pump is plugged in." Then I thought, "please let that be nurse Natalie's phone or some alarm of hers..." So I ran back to the nursery and I went to the feeding pump, but the beeping was coming from the other side of the room. Oh Lord. That's the alarm on the bi-pap to let me know that the power is out and it's no longer working. I frantically looked at her feeding pump and saw that it was running on battery. I looked over to the pulse-ox machine - it too is on battery power. My first instinct was to take her mask off and run a cough assist to clear her airways... oh wait, the cough assist doesn't work!!! PANIC!

With her mask on and no air coming in, she can't breathe and is probably panicked herself. I pulled her mask off, ran to the front of the house to get her portable suction machine and ran back to her room and suctioned her out. I cleared as much as I could out of her nose and throat (since the bi-pap creates thick secretions and boogers) but didn't want to use too much power because the battery life is pretty short on the suction machine. I knew that I needed to get her to the van if the power stayed out. I called all our neighbors to find out if it's just our house or area-wide. No one answered. Of course, it's the day after Thanksgiving... I finally got on the phone with GA Power and found out it's an area-wide outage and there is a crew working to fix it. After getting off the phone, I heard sirens and more sirens so I guessed it was an accident that knocked out the power. They told me it wouldn't be more than an hour. Could we make it that long?!

I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I ran and got the stroller, picked Skylar up without even thinking about all of her cords attached to her and put her in her seat. Meanwhile, Natalie was trying to unhook her feeding pump tube, grab her pulse-ox machine (attached to her big toe and was pulling across the room) and get her bi-pap machine to the van. Natalie was a rock star. We were out the door in a few minutes - Skylar was stable for the first minute, but then was looking a little pale as she was needing a cough assist. The area around her mouth always turns blue first and definitely changed colors fast. Like a crazy woman, I threw a blanket on her and wheeled her out of the house. Natalie helped me get her stroller down the step out our back door and then helped me lift her into the van in her stroller. THANK GOD FOR NURSE NATALIE!!! I would've probably been a nervous wreck if she weren't there to help me get everything together. Kyle wasn't even close to home and I could not have been able to carry everything in addition to caring for Skylar!

As soon as we got in the van, got her bi-pap back on, Skylar was fine. In fact, she looked at me like, "Why the heck are we just sitting in our driveway? Shouldn't we be going somewhere? This is boring..." It was pretty funny. Natalie went back in to finish cleaning for the day since it was right before she was supposed to leave and then brought the iPad back out for Skylar. We watched/read a few stories to pass the time. I called Kyle's parents to see if they would come down in case Natalie had to leave and I was stuck in the van, lol. Seriously though, I can't lift her stroller by myself so they headed down. Our power came back on (GA Power called me when it was restored) and I think from power out to power back on was a full hour. As Mom & Dad Jones arrived they said they saw the emergency vehicles on the corner of our neighborhood, which would explain it.

I think this whole thing caught me so off guard because there was no storm, no ice, no fallen trees... nothing that would normally happen to knock power out. In the fall, we had some really wicked storms and I told Kyle then that we needed to get a generator. When a storm would come, I would have a plan and was almost expecting it. This was out of the blue and shocking really - especially since I had gone over everything just minutes before with Natalie. It's her second day in our household and I am pretty sure she thinks I am a crazy lady now, hahaha. I can't help but think that God had something to do with the timing of it all though :)

Well I just had to share this crazy day with you - if for no other reason than to document it for myself to look back on and laugh about. Needless to say we'll be buying a generator. Thanks for reading. My next post will contain birthday pictures... promise!


  1. Thank God for Nurse Natalie indeed! I'm so thankful that she was there to help you Ashley! I'm also thankful that Skylar handled it. And thank the electric company for restoring power as quickly as they possibly could.

    An angel was watching over you for sure. xoxo

  2. Whew that stressed me out just reading it...can't imagine living it. Thankful for your van and for nurse Natalie!! (PS this is Casey on David's gmail account!)