Last week Jake started with some sort of virus. He had a high fever that came and went with Motrin for about 36 hours and when it finally broke he was left with little more than a stuffy nose and some congestion. He didn’t go to the doctor’s and I let him rest and recover at home, skipping the last three days of preschool that week. By last weekend he was back to himself, I took the humidifier out of his room and Monday and Tuesday were really routine.
Tuesday night, at bedtime, I filled a humidifier for Joey who had developed a cold and cough which I assumed he had caught from Jake. Cecilia was fine and Jake made no complaints so they all went off to bed. Around 11pm I was awoken by the frantic calls of my husband who was holding Jake in the bathroom. Jake, being held upright by my husband, was soaking wet on his front, mouth open, drooling, and gasping for air.
I asked him if he ate anything, first worried he may be choking, and he had shook his head no, unable to speak. Between gasps of air I heard a high pitched squeak, and even though there was no ‘barky cough’ that would confirm croup without a doubt, I ordered my husband downstairs and to put Jake in front of an open freezer door. Cold air, just as a steamy shower, should help him breathe if it was croup, but still he gasped for breath. It took me only another 30 seconds of watching him drool and seeing his skin pull in between his ribs to know this was a time to seek immediate medical care. My fear, was that he was having his first ever case of asthma, and I wasn’t going to wait around to find out.
Within six minutes of calling 911 the paramedics arrived and began assessing Jake. His lungs sounded clear and they suspected that it was croup as the distress sounded “higher up.” Thankfully, as I was talking to the dispatcher I was running around opening the door, locking the dog in our bedroom, grabbing Jake’s favorite blanket, my purse, phone, and a couple items for later, so as soon as they gave the word that we were leaving to go to the hospital, I was out the door with Jake.
The medics were awesome and had him sit on my lap on the stretcher and I held his first breathing treatment in his mouth. At four years old Jake knew enough and was frightened enough to accept the treatment willingly when I told him it would help him breathe. The fifteen minute ride to the hospital felt like an eternity with Jake grasping my pajama pants with one hand and locking my arm with his other. I tried to keep my own emotions and panic at bay by talking to him about how cool it was to ride in the back of an ambulance. His airway and voice box were still too swollen to allow him to speak, and every once in a while a few tears would run down his face. I can honestly say it was one of the most frightening times of my whole life.
When we arrived at the hospital there were patients lining the hallway, and I prayed for a room without waiting. Since he was so sick they did take us right back, and we immediately had medical staff assessing and hooking him up. The brought in a portable X-ray, respiratory therapist who gave him a second (and different) breathing treatment along with an oral steroid.
Around 2am Jake finally began to breathe without effort and started to talk again. He told me, “I tried to talk to you Mom, but my words couldn’t come out. Did you know when you can’t breathe that you can’t talk?” There can’t be a worse feeling than seeing your child suffering and not being able to immediately alleviate it.
Thanks to the quick work from the EMT’s, nurses, doctors and staff, Jake was quickly bouncing back. I knew he felt better when he asked for his Nintendo DS that I had thrown in my purse. So there we were, at 3am, sitting in a hospital bed together playing Mario Cart. After a while he got bored with the DS and asked for alternate entertainment. I whipped out a handful of markers from my bag, but had forgotten paper, so my calendar (which runs through June 2012), is now full of Jake’s art work. Undoubtedly, and not just from the drawings on every page of my planner, this will be a night I’ll remember for a while.
After filling the calendar, I asked Jake to try to close his eyes and get some rest while we were there. The night’s hours seemed to be ticking away much faster now that he was feeling better. He cuddled up, told me he loved me, and said he was “so happy that Mommies are soft.” It times like this I’m glad I never did commit to having a rock hard body, and I just shushed him before he totally ruined the moment. Snickers and a separate giggle then followed from the other side of the curtain next to us.
Apparently the epinephrine must have still been keeping Jake awake, or maybe it was the excitement and buzz from the halls, but there would be no napping in the ER from either of us that night. I could tell by 3:30am that Jake was feeling much better because he started getting antsy. The staff was having a busy night and Jake was really amused when I found a bedpan for him to stand on the bed and pee in because I didn’t want to bother the staff. He says that was his favorite part.
As we waited for final clearance to go home, Jake was uninterested in playing DS or using the markers, so I whispered songs to him, did silly dances and made funny faces. After the doctor came and gave me discharge instructions and gave Jake a final check, we waited patiently (as possible) for the paperwork so we could leave. Jake was exhausted and started whining about leaving. Surrounded by other patients, and trying to keep him as quiet as possible, I took his blankie which I brought and wrapped it around my neck like a cape. Jake giggled and I quietly flew around his bed. Arms stretched in front, only raising my finger to my lips to signal for him to be quiet, he sat on the bed covering his mouth with his hands, laughing almost silently. I pretended to hit the TV (that didn’t work), flew over the bed, and then as I became worried he was losing interest, grabbed his attention once again as I stood on the chair, arms extended, balancing on one leg, when a nurse walked in.
It’s moments like that…standing on a chair at 4am, wearing a child’s blankie as a cape, in my PJ’s, braless and wearing an old sweatshirt I bought on the boardwalk a 100 years ago, I know motherhood has taken me to places I never dreamed that I would go.
I know Ive been sporadic in posting, but I’ve been keeping a close eye on Jake (and the other two are sick of course), I’ve been beginning to feel better myself, and I’ve got some things in the works for this site. Oh, and since my laptop died a few months ago and all I have is this awful iPad2 (that’s right, I said it, I hate this thing for everyday/blogger use), I find it difficult to type and do what I need to do. This is why I ordered a new laptop that will be coming this week. God willing, I’ll be resuming a normal schedule and be back to more frequent posts. Thanks for hanging with me over the last couple months. They’ve been a real pain in the ass!
Have you had any scary ER trips with your kids? Croup ever get crazy like this in your house? Leave me a comment!