Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 1: Winnipeg

Friday February 15, 2013
Ellie was diagnosed with Bronchiolitis in mid January, but it wasn't until Thursday, February 14th when it became a huge concern for me.  Through out the day things really seemed to take a change for the worse. On top of her constant coughing and laboured  breathing she stopped eating except when I forced her to.  This unfortunately caused her to vomit.  She also started to have diarrhea every time she ate anything.  I had been on the phone with HealthLinks twice that day and also got a hold of her pediatrician.  They all told me there was nothing that could be done for the Bronchiolitis.  That this was normal. I can tell you it didn't feel normal. 

I struggled through the night with virtually no sleep as I watched her fight to breathe. The next day it was more of the same, a call to HealthLinks, and a constant struggle to get her to keep any food down. Around 9pm that night my mom and I were feeding her when she inevitably threw up again.  However this time things got really  bad.  Ellie turned white, glistened in a cool sweat and went limp.  Her breathing was the worst rasping I had ever heard.  Her lips turned bluish.  I looked at my mom with panic in my eyes and we agreed with a glance that we were rushing to the hospital.  It was probably  the longest car drive ever... even though I ran four yellow lights.  

When we got there, there were a few people in front of me but I forced a nurse to look at Ellie.  This resulted in her picking Ellie up and taking her directly to a doctor in the back.  

By now she started to look a little more "normal" and I was worried that they were just going to send me home again... but obviously this was not the case.  After a few hours of tests done by specialists who were called in, she was rushed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).  There she was put on a few different heart medications.  

At this time the Pediatric cardiologist took me aside and told me that Ellie was in serious trouble.  That if she hadn't  come in to the hospital when she did she wouldn't have made it.  He then proceeded to tell me that the next few hours were critical and that I shouldn't leave the hospital.  

I knew I had to phone Dan in Jamaica and tell him to come home.  By now it was 2 am Saturday morning.  I was able to get ahold of our pastor and give him a phone number to call where Dan was staying.  Thankfully Dan called a few minutes later sounding groggy and worried at the same time.  I then updated him and he began his long journey home.

 A few hours later, roughly 4 am now, the cardiac specialist took me aside again and told me that Ellie needed to go to a facility that specialized in cardiology in Edmonton.  He wanted to be cautious in case she needed an Extra Coporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine.  This is a life support machine that acts as her heart and lungs if they stop functioning.  It seemed we would be leaving for Edmonton later that day.   

In preparation for her flight, Ellie needed to have a breathing tube put in.  The idea was that it would keep her from moving on the plane (because she would be sedated) and if anything happened on the flight, it's practically impossible to intubate due to the pressure in the airplane.  They also wanted to put in an internal jugular line so that drugs could be administered quickly.  For these procedures I was asked to leave.  

Another couple of hours passed and the cardiologist was back.  At first I didn't think anything about it but one look at his face and I knew something was up... I just wasn't ready for it.  I was told that it had taken the team a long time to try and insert the jugular line to no avail, this was followed by attempts at a venous femoral line, also to no avail.  But when he told me that her heart stopped beating when they were putting in the breathing tube my heart broke.  He then proceeded to tell me that she was down for five minutes.  CPR was given the entire time and they were able to determine that she had maintained blood pressure throughout due to the sensor in the arterial line in her wrist.  He said that they wouldn't know the ramifications of this until later but in very young children, they are able to create new pathways in the brain if any had been affected.

 I think at this point reality still hadn't sunk in.  He obviously was talking about somebody else's baby!  I felt sorry for that mother but I was glad it wasn't me who had to deal with this news.  It probably wasn't until I said it out loud to my sister that it finally started to sunk in.  To say that I was devastated would be an understatement.  

They let me back in her room before they left for their flight.  I almost didn't recognize her.  She looked so little and fragile.  I just wanted to pick her up but they were already running late due to the previous difficulties.  At 12:50 Saturday afternoon, I kissed her goodbye and told her that she had to be strong.  That I expected to see her in Edmonton.  That she needed to hold on until her daddy could see her.  I remember asking her cardiologist what her chance of making it to Edmonton was... I had a feeling of dread..  He looked at me and said that honestly she had a 90% chance of making it.  This was better than what I was expecting but 10% was still too risky for my liking.  She was whisked off and our adventure was just beginning.


  1. Hugs to you all... sending you love and wishes for a full and speedy recovery for Eliana.

    Love mei, fletch, wyeth and nevyn

  2. I have no you both and Ellie so much. I continue to pray.

  3. Dan and Melanie,
    We are praying for you and your precious daughter's recovery.
    All our love
    The Findlays
    Sam, Bev, Ruth, Evelyn Jonathan and Elisabeth

  4. Just know that you're all very close in our thoughts and prayers.
    Bill & Nancy C.

  5. Your friends at Valley are keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers.


  6. We're praying. We love you all so much.

    Jo Palmer

  7. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

    Ephesians 3:16-19

  8. Our hearts go out to you and Mel and Eliana. Just say the word if there's anything we can do.

    -Mike, Jen, Elizabeth

  9. Everyone here at Faith Academy learned about you guys during chapel and we are all praying for Eliana's health! We love your family!

  10. We pray and ask God for a fast recovery for Eliana. We hope that she will feel better soon. God bless :)

    - Harvin and Kathleene (:

    -BINCE T C;

  12. positive vibes are being sent your way....keep the faith you two...I'm thinking of you.

    Sandy T

  13. Dear Mel and Dan,
    We are sending prayers, hugs , and angel kisses across the miles for Eliana and both of you.
    From Lou & Al Carson

  14. Praying for your little gir, your family and the medical team that supports all of you

  15. Awww!! Melanie... I had no idea - I am just reading your story now and im in tears.. i'll read more... I love you guys and hope everything is going to be okay with Eliana. My prayers are with you!

  16. My thoughts and prayers have been with your family since day 1 and I will continue to pray till you are home safe and healthy. Love you all very much. XOXOXOXO.