Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dear AZ Burn Center,

I've heard some not so great things about County hospital. County always has a bad rep, probably because you folks have to treat everyone. That doesn't seem fair, especially since you have some of the most qualified and dedicated doctors and nurses on staff. Here's our story:

My 5 year old daughter, Tasha fell into an extinguished fire pit while camping on Saturday. We had no idea how bad it was at the time, but it hurt her pretty bad. We stopped in Payson at the Urgent Care center where they gave her some morphine to help with the pain as we drove down to Phoenix. We had our transfer orders from them and once we made it to your pediatric ER we were treated like VIP's. We were escorted back to the burn unit by a very nice young man, and you took us in quickly. Maybe it was good timing, but we certainly appreciated the attention your nurses gave us that day.

Since the morphine was still in affect when we came in, your nurse was quick to act. She took off the bandage they had put on in Payson and we were all surprised at how the burns had gotten worse. There were some HUGE blisters that she popped quickly. It was quite shocking to both myself and Tasha as she popped and peeled skin back. I think if either of us had realized what was going to happen we would have freaked out, big time! She wrapped up Tasha's arm quickly, but explained everything to me along the way since I would need to change it later that evening and the next morning. Our confidence in the nurse was greater than the intern doctor that kept looking to her for advice. It was silly too, he had written a prescription for pills and the nurse had to suggest that maybe a liquid would be better. Well, DUH!

Tasha did great the rest of the day and even wanted to go to church on Sunday. After church we had some lunch and gave her some of the Tylenol with Codeine, as instructed, so that when we came in it wouldn't hurt very much. My husband, Bill, took her down that evening and you all were still expressing some concern about the degree of the burns. Clearly, some were second degree, and one spot was possibly even a third degree burn. (That is still yet to be determined) It was a good thing that Bill took her down because I would not have handled the next news very well. It was suggested that maybe she should be admitted so that you could control the pain better while you thoroughly cleansed the wound to keep out infection. It was also brought forward that a skin graft (which means surgery!) might be necessary. Hearing about staying overnight at the hospital from my daughter was much easier for me to take than it would have been coming from your nurse. I'm grateful my husband was there that night.

Both my husband and I slept on this news and tried to prepare ourselves for the worst as we brought her down on Monday morning. It was a long wait once we got there as there were several people in front of us. As we sat in the waiting room, I watched the people in scrubs entering and exiting the secured doors. I was looking for the right person to ask how long this would take because I feared that after 3 hours, the Codeine might wear off. I found her. It was Sergeant Cabral who is here for 2 weeks on her reserve duty from Georgia. She was young, sweet, and came right back when she found out it would be about 20 minutes longer. She also came and got us when it was time and stayed with Tasha during some of the waiting. Even though we knew we might have to stay once we got to the hospital, I didn't pack a bag because Tasha was really dead set against staying the night. That changed, however, as we went through the cleansing process again. It hurt her. It hurt bad. The nurse was so patient and let Tasha take the bandage off and even let her try to clean some of the spots herself. It just really needed more scrubbing and nobody wanted to put Tasha through that. She was very anxious about the whole thing, even putting the bandage back on which she knew would make it feel better.

The doctor came in and looked at the burns as Tasha clung to me in silent tears. She was ready to convince us that staying would be a good idea, but at that point we had decided that it was really the only way she would heal. We just wanted the specifics and a possible estimation of how long. We're working on our second night here, and are hoping to make it only one more night. The team of doctors and nurses will be talking tomorrow and we'll find out more then.

I just wanted to say that you have some really exception staff here at County. Donileene and Lynn really know how to make kids feel better by doing the simple things. Just cut off the tape that is sticking out and the bandage is now not bothering her anymore. Flush the blood out of the IV tube and all is better. It sounds simple enough, but these were things that the other nurses would not even consider because they just would say there was nothing they could do without even talking to Tasha about it. Thank you, sweet nurses, for listening to her and comforting her in every way possible. Even John, who delivered her some food, was great. He talked to her like she was a person. It was important for her to know that she still exists as a human being and not just an object to be fed, poked, and prodded for vital signs and dead skin. Thanks to John also for walking her down to the (semi-lame) play center when the other nurse forgot about her or was busy with another patient. I don't think it was really in his job description, but he was willing and able.

We have no regrets about checking into your facility here. The room accomodations have been great. I'm sure it's because we're in the Pediatric Burn Center, but we've got it pretty good. Tasha has her own room, TV, VCR, and DVD player. We also have internet access which helps because we have our own laptop that Tasha can play pbskids.org and I can check email. There have been a few connection issues, on occassion, but it's worked out pretty well for the most part. We've accidentally hit the nurse's call button at least a dozen times, and the nurses have been very nice about it. We were greeted by a sweet lady that brought Tasha several things to play with, a beautiful quilt, and a doll to keep her company. Overall, I can't complain about our stay so far.

I spent the night last night and didn't get much rest, so my mom will be staying with Tasha tonight. Tasha slept fine all night long, even when the nurses had to check her vitals at midnight and 4 am. I know I won't be missed, since she was snoozing heavily the whole time. In fact, we're still waiting for the dressing change this evening and it's nearly 9pm. I imagine Tasha will be out until at least 10am tomorrow. This is going to really mess with her sleeping schedule, but if it helps her avoid surgery then we're very grateful.

Thanks for your help thus far. We hope the end is in near site.


The D's


proud parents said...

Wow! Poor Tasha. Poor H and Bill. What a horrible, traumatic, PAINFUL experience!
Yes, I know those stories about County all too well, and I would never wish a visit there on anyone UNLESS . . . they were a burn victim. They DO have an awesome burn center there, and I'm so grateful that all of you have been so well cared for there.
I could never work a burn unit. It's the one thing I would hate to do in my profession. That, and peds. Ah, well, there you go in both!
I hope that Tasha heals very quickly and finds comfort, and that her pain will be minimal.
I hope, despite making all those new sweet angel friends, that you all get out of there PDQ!
So until then, and for as long as it takes for her to recover at home, I will be praying for her and you guys as well.

mamamuniz said...

I am so sorry to hear about Tasha, but glad to hear about the quality of care you are receiving. I wish her a quick recovery!

Crissybug said...

I can't imagine what little Tasha is going through....not to mention the rest of you and your family who is having to watch from the sidelines. My thoughts and prayers will be with you. Keep us posted.

Monique said...

Aww, so that is what happened...poor thing. Ember burned her hand really bad on the edge, but we didn't think to take her in because the spot was smaller and I didn't think they would do anything. Sometimes now, I wonder if I should have taken her in.

I hope Tasha gets better soon. It sounds like she is holding up pretty well all things considered. I know sometimes they hold up better than us parents do (we keep it all pent up until afterward, gotta stay strong.)

Thinking of you.

Moke, Mom and Dad - The Lightburne Family said...

I am so sorry. Poor Tasha! Poor Mom and Dad. I agree with Monique - she's probably holding up better than you two. But you are in the best hands. I know a nurse down there in the burn unit...I'd trust my own kids with him. Please let us know what we can do.

Tricia said...

Wow! I'm so sorry about Tasha! How is she doing now? I can't imagine watching my child go through that! Hopefully, she is healing well and won't have any lasting effects!

Beastwood said...

I am so sorry,I'm sure she will recover fast but I can feel your pain about going to a burn unit and seeing the way burns can effect your skin. My mom got third degree burns on her legs that covered about 60% of them. It's definatly different when you see your child suffering but tramatic either way when a family member gets hurt. I've never been to the county hospital here in PHX but I did in Seattle and it was the same experiance in the burn unit as you described. I give great respect to the staff that treats in those units because see things you would never want to see in your life.

Take care Tasha and I hope for a speedy recovery for you!!

H said...

Thanks everyone for all your prayers and well wishes. Tasha is holding up very well and continues to heal every day. I'm trying to keep some updates coming as the days wear on. It gives me some relief from the daily grind of hospital life. I hope you all understand my writing and get that I have to approach it differently each time in order to cope. That's just me, you probably won't hear my emotion coming through too often because, like Mo said, "gotta stay strong." So true. Strong and vigilent yet sympathetic and caring.