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Physicians, MY NIECE NEEDS YOUR HELP!!!
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Tokarra9696 posted:
I have a 10 year old niece that has been in a comatose state for 3 months. We were told that it was due to "residual pneumonia" related to her asthma. Three months ago, she was in her bed resting after complaining of not feeling well. She knows what to do if her asthma is flaring, so she took a nebulizer treatment. While resting, she began seizing. This was so severe that when she was found, there was mucous EVERYWHERE!! It was coming from her eyes, nose and mouth. I would like to know, if she was in the hospital for pneumonia and released after 4 days, only to end up there less than a week after discharge, how was the pneumonia missed and what can we hope for in her prognosis? Will this be permanent? While in the hospital the last time with the pneumonia, the doctor asked her how did she feel and she told her that her chest still hurt when she breathed in or out and hurt really bad if she had to take a deep breath. To my knowledge no x-ray was done prior to discharge. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. We just want to get her better and feel as though we are not being told everything.
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DUKE MEDICINE
Michael H Land, MD responded:
Dear Tokarra9696,
I'm so sorry to hear about the medical issues your niece is suffering from. I am sure it is a very difficult time for you now since she is comatose and in the hospital.

Not knowing the full details of this case, I would say that it is possible that during the first admission to the hospital, she had not yet developed the symptoms of the pneumonia fully. The physicians may have felt that it was asthma at the time, perhaps based on her history, a physical exam, and her symptoms (if she was improved). It is also possible that she developed the symptoms in the few days she was home. Only her doctors can really answer this question in retrospect if they were the ones examining her.

Seizure disorders are also very tough on the body. When someone is seizing, if they have aspiration (breathing in) of something in the mouth into the lungs, this could lead to an aspiration pneumonia. The mucus on her face could have been related to the seizure--since patients who are actively seizing can lose control of their actions (and potentially body secretions).

If she is currently on a breathing machine (due to continuous seizures), this could increase the risk for a ventilator related pneumonia. There are many risk factors for pneumonia in her case. The organism and type of pneumonia also are important factors in determining the severity of her case.

Unfortunately, It is impossible to predict her prognosis or know how permanent or temporary this is. The best people who can give you this information are her actual physicians, since they are the ones who know her intimate medical problems, severity of illness, and extent of disease (like how bad the pneumonia is), so I'm sorry I cannot comment on this.

I would encourage you to have a dialogue with your family and doctors to address the concerns you have. I hope your niece has a quick and full recovery.
Best Regards.
 
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Tokarra9696 replied to Michael H Land, MD's response:
Thank you Dr. Land. I appreciate the feedback. Unfortunately, it was their apprehension that led me to this site. My sister and brother in law are blaming themselves for something that clearly was through no fault of their own. My niece is actually doing really well. She's breathing on her own and her "numbers" look good!

One other thing, if you don't mind: what is brainstorming? What is it as it relates to my niece's current condition? It was something my sister said one of the nurses at the rehabilitation center said to her. I tried researching, but it only referenced it with regards to epilepsy. Again, thank you for your help!
 
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DUKE MEDICINE
Michael H Land, MD replied to Tokarra9696's response:
Hi Tokarra9696,

Thanks for your update on your Niece's condition. I am so glad to hear that she is breathing on her own and improving.

I am not sure what they mean about brainstorming--unless they are trying to come up with ideas on what could be causing an issue or problem. Sometimes there may be an issue (like a clotted IV line or some other nursing-related issue) and a nurse may say to the family that they are "brainstorming" ideas on how to clear it or something else to fix it with (like taping it a certain way if it is bent).

If she does have a true seizure disorder, this may be their way to explain something relating to her condition to the family.

I hope she continues to have a good recovery.


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