Another night shift in pediatrics. I had a feeling it was not going to be a good night. Ansley had told me that there was one baby with meningitis that had not been breathing well, and somehow I knew it was going to be trouble. Sure enough, around 2 AM, the family came to get me to tell me that the baby's breathing was getting worse. I came to look, and decided immediately to go get Dr. Jacques. The baby would breathe really quickly for a little bit, and completely stop for a while.
When Jacques came, he went to the OR to find the baby size ambu-bag. We both stayed by the bed and took turns pumping air into the baby boy's lungs. Every once in a while, we would stop to see if he was breathing better on his own, but we weren't seeing any improvement. After 10 minutes of bagging the baby, I said, "Jacques, what are we going to do? We can't keep breathing for the baby all night." He didn't answer me directly, and we continued. Then Jacques was called into the ER for an emergency. I stayed by the bed, pumping air, but my wrist started getting tired. All together, we ambu-bagged the baby for a little over an hour. Finally, Jacques was satisfied that the baby was breathing well enough, and he went back to sleep.
About 20 minutes later, the family came up to me again. "He's not breathing well, come see."
I looked and very quickly realized that he wasn't just not breathing well, he wasn't breathing at all. I started CPR and prayed hard. I didn't want to lose another one. I got him to breathe again and went back to my desk, but 20 minutes later, the family was back again to call for me. All through the night, from 3 AM until I got off shift at 8 AM, I went and did chest compressions on that little boy every 20-40 minutes. One time, he had stopped breathing and had no pulse as well.
By the time my shift had ended, I was exhausted, and as I passed off the patients to Salomon, I just knew in my heart that that little baby boy was not going to make it much longer. I went to the middle house to lay down and rest for a while. Then I went back to the hospital to find Salomon.
"Is the meningitis baby still here?" I asked, but I already knew the answer.