Last time Kate had general anesthetic, she developed a rash, so she was sure to mention this before she went under to have her wisdom teeth out in January. It was flagged as something to monitor closely throughout the oral surgery. The surgery itself went smoothly, but shortly after she was extubated, as the anesthetic began to wear off, her body launched a severe anaphylactic reaction. She vaguely remembers waking up and her chest felt like it was burning. Her tongue swelled, blocking her airway, and her throat began to close. She was re-intubated and rushed by ambulance to the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
A large team of specialists, including trauma doctors and respiratory therapists, was assembled and waiting as Kate arrived at the Emergency Department. A hospital doctor took over bagging (manually breathing for Kate by squeezing air into her chest tube by hand) from the anesthesiologist who had ridden with her. Kate’s dad, Rob, remembers feeling overwhelmed by how many people were surrounding his daughter and the look of concentration on the face of the doctor who was pumping air into her lungs. Kate was transferred onto a ventilator, hooked up to several IVs to help fight the anaphylaxis, and moved into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where she was closely monitored over the next day. The family is so grateful a ventilator was available to help save her life and say it’s a good reminder about the importance of following COVID-19 guidelines to ensure emergency equipment is available for all the non-COVID emergencies that continue to unfold during the pandemic.
Kate remembers waking up and looking at her finger, where she saw a Band-Aid that hadn’t been there before her wisdom teeth surgery. Then she realized she was not in the clinic – she was at the hospital. She was confused, sore and tired. Though she was stable enough to come off the ventilator, she still needed to be hooked up to oxygen to help maintain her breathing. Her blood pressure and heart rate were also still volatile, so the team was keeping a very close eye on her to ensure her vitals didn’t reached dangerous levels again. Eventually, Kate was stable enough to move to Unit 4, where she stayed two more nights before she was considered safe to go home.
Despite the terrifying experience they went through, Kate and her family are so grateful for the care she received at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Everyone who helped them was approachable and patient, taking lots of time to answer questions and reassure them. Kate was so thankful, she even asked for a list of every person who was involved in her care so she could thank them all.
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