A Mom's Story - "Batman is perfect and doesn't need medicine"!
Dear Mr. Wallace,
I just wanted to formally thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to The RightDose Pediatric & Adult Drug Dosing Guide. I have followed your work for a while now and it was a privilege to meet you at the Pediatric Emergency Care conference in Sumner County. Please allow me to share with you what this dosing guide means to me... Not only am I a Paramedic, but I am also a mother. First of all, I know that I am not alone when I admit that I enjoy the adrenaline rush when we get a "good call". As you mentioned, my heart pumps and palms sweat and I go into "fight or flight" mode. However, I have been doing this for quite a while now and my adrenaline doesn't pump nearly as much as it used to and I have become a fairly confident Paramedic out in the field. I work for a private service that does many hospital transfers - including ICU and Vent patients and I actually do quite a few pediatric transports with my company. I love it when they are the easy "let's play with stickers and watch movies on my tablet" calls - but I do quite a few critical transfers as well. These are the calls that we all dread, but someone has to get these kids from point A to point B. I have always had to do drug calculations and actually think during these emergencies and I have noticed that the parents tend to look nervous when I pull out a calculator and the protocol book and go back and forth a few times before I give any medication. (I always want to make sure I'm giving the right dose.) I can see how the RightDose dosing guide could simplify this process and put everyone more at ease. (I would like to see what I need to do to get one of the books for my ambulance as well.)
But most importantly, I want to share something a little more dear to my heart... Like I said, I am a mother. Mikey is the youngest of seven children and was born a happy and healthy baby boy. At the age of 11 months, Mikey began having seizures and was hospitalized. Being in the field, I always thought "this can never happen to me" but I was hit with a huge dose of reality. Back then, I often saw the nurses running around quite frantic when his seizures would start and would measure him on the Broselow tape -- but he has always been long and skinny so his weight wouldn't match up with the height color and there was always chaos and confusion in the middle of MY SON'S emergency. To me, this wasn't acceptable. Here I was in "mom mode" and unable to do anything. They would have PRN medications ordered and it would give how many mg/kg should be given, but I would see them with all their little tools and trying to figure out how much of what to give and I just wanted to stand up and scream, "DO SOMETHING!!" (Looking back, this is probably how some of my patient's parents feel when they see me trying to come up with the correct dose in the back of the ambulance during their child's emergency.) At this time, we lived in Chattanooga. Being in the medical field myself, I knew what needed to be done and knew what they were doing, but the tension in the air was so thick that it could be cut with a knife. This often raised my anxiety level as well as Mikey's when he had no idea what was even wrong. The nurses were great nurses and I worked with them often, but it was a high stress environment and you could tell that they always questioned or second-guessed if they were giving the right amount... and sometimes, they did give the wrong amount and would have to come back and give more (luckily, they always gave on the small side and, to my knowledge, he never got more than he should have). Hearing horror stories from other parents and even at work, I was terrified each and every time they had to administer something stronger than Ibuprofen. For another two years (and many more hospitalizations), I became accustomed to this environment and my anxiety levels went up each time the physicians announced that we would be admitted - without the mention of any new drugs or dosages. In 2010, we had already moved to Nashville and Mikey had another admission - this time with seizures that were thought to cause his first stroke-like episode that left him with severe left sided weakness and difficulty speaking. We were admitted to a local hospital and had much of the same experience as we had in Chattanooga; however, Mikey was a little older and was able to pick up on the stress levels and would cling to me each time a nurse would enter the room. Fast forward another year or so... during another admission (for seizures with encephalopathy and another stroke-like episode), it was almost like the entire environment had changed. In an emergent situation, everyone was cool and calm and collected and the nurse easily flipped to a page in a little book out at the desk and came in with his medicine ready to go and gave it with complete confidence. Shocked, I at first thought my nurse was a robot in disguise :-) but after we got to talking, she mentioned how they had "these new flip books with charts" and how medication administration was easier. I no longer see the "oh crap" look on the nurses' faces when they have to give medication... they stay happy and smiling and seem to have a confidence that helps everyone stay at ease- including my little boy.
Although we still have frequent visits to the hospital, this one tool has seemed to take much of the stress and anxiety out of our visits and we are able to focus on the one most important thing while we are there- Mikey. Mikey is my little super hero and gives me the strength and courage to keep going. He is a normal and ordinary little 5 year old at times and gets into trouble and picks on his siblings and often takes on the personality of Batman (and will tell you that "Batman is perfect and doesn't need medicine")- but he also has a faith and determination in life that is greater than any other person I know. He has been through more than many people have been through in their entire life, but he always keeps a smile on his face and a song in his heart. Thank you for helping him keep his smile sparkling- even when he is stuck in a hospital bed. Your hard work and determination with this dosing guide have allowed my family a little more peace of mind when we are already under a lot of stress. We have no guarantee of how much longer Mikey will be on this earth with us, but I will promise you that we cherish every second we get and trust God to lead us in the right direction.
Once again, thank you for all you do and it was an honor to meet you at the conference. Please feel free to use the images and/or share Mikey's story with others. If there is anything I could ever do to help, I would be more than happy to do so. Sometimes, making an issue "more personal" will help people realize how important a topic really is. It might have been my son that this helped yesterday- but it could be their child it will help tomorrow. Please keep in touch and I look forward to seeing how this foundation can help others in the future. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend and God bless! Feel free to contact me with any further questions.
Monica Kilburn-Peterson, EMT-P