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Iíve been having a tough time since my son was sick last month. He almost died. And this is not just an exaggeration. He literally almost died right in front of me. It was the absolute, worst day of my life (also NOT another exageration). So, the psychologist Iíve seen a couple of times now has suggested that I write about the whole experience to help me work out all of my emotions and feelings about the situation.
So, here we go. He had been sick already during the month of March. I canít believe how very sick he got.
He started off on the 3rd with just a cough. By the 5th, we were in the doctorís office and he had an ear infection. He didnít really get better and by the 8th, we were in the emergency room with him and he was admitted that night. The poor guy is only two and to be that sick and in the hospital must have been terrifying to him, even though either my husband or I stayed with him the whole time. He spent two nights in the hospital and went home the third day. He got better at home.
In fact, by the 16th he was doing well enough that I took him to his Water Babies class. The 17th, we had my older sonís birthday party and on the 18th we went to my in-lawís. He had started coughing a little bit on the 18th and had a little runny nose, but nothing that would make us think he was getting ready to be on deathís door. About 11:00 PM, he was coughing enough that I had to give him a nebulizer treatment for his breathing. I ended up giving him a treatment every two hours all night.
Around 6:00AM my husband took him and I slept for about an hour. Then, my older son got up and so did I and headed down stairs. My younger son wasnít looking too hot at that point. I called the on-call doctor. I had to get very bitchy with the answering service to get a call back, but he did call me back fairly soon. I asked if we should take him to the emergency room. The doctor says, ďWell, you can either go or not.Ē Thanks for the learned medical opinion, sir. Geez! I was pretty angry with him!
So, at this point, my husband decides to head out the door and go to work, leaving me with my older son and a very sick two year old. I called a good friend of ours and she agreed to come get my older son once she dropped her daughter off at kindergarten. Once she took him, I loaded my younger son up and we headed to the doctorís office rather than the emergency room. The nurse came right out and checked on him and brought us back to see the doctor right away. It wasnít our regular doctor, unfortunately.
Our kids had seen him before and I feel he is very competent. His bedside manner leaves something to be desired, but he knows what heís doing. Anyway, he kept us their at the clinic to do the tests. He felt they would get done faster there rather than at the hospital. It turned out he was right on that count. He took a chest xray and drew some blood. I was impressed because he did the blood draw rather than someone who didnít regularly take blood on kids. He definitely takes extra time that not all doctors do, fortunately.
He basically told me that my son would be back in the hospital and once they called to say a room was ready he would walk over with us (itís only about a block from our clinic to the hospital). So, he walked us over there about 11:30am. He drew some more blood for a blood gas test. There was some discussion about whether or not I would have to go down to admitted and fill out paperwork AGAIN. The doctor told the nurse to send someone up because he wasnít going to have my son left alone with strangers.
They started my son on some oxygen and gave him a couple of more nebulizer treatments. Then, I noticed that he didnít look very good. I was about to call the nurse in when she came in anyway. She shouted for the doctor to come in and the next thing I know they had ripped him out of my arms and pushed me out of the way. They had pushed me towards the back of the room and I saw that my son was absolutely gray. Before I knew it, the room was filled with nurses and equipment and noise.
There was nothing I could do for my son and it was the worst feeling. It was also horrible not knowing if he was breathing, not knowing if he was going to be OK. At this point, I turned away to call my husband at work. I had already called him once to let him know that our son would be admitted again. I was less than impressed with his response, which was, ďOK, well, Iíll call Christy and tell her that Iíll come and get Gavin around 4:00 today.Ē This is a man with four weeks of vacation available.
When I had tried to give him the number to the hospital he asked me to call him back and he would get a pen then and write it down. I was thinking, ďWhat the fuck is wrong with you! Our son is in the hospital and Iím dealing with it all alone and you want me to call you back because you canít get up off your ass to go get a pen? And youíre staying at work even though your kid is sick enough to need to be in the hospital?Ē Anyway, I called him and was sobbing.
I think what I said was, ďYou need to get to the hospital now. Things are very bad.Ē He kept asking what is going on and I kept repeating the same thing. Finally, he got the picture that he needed to get there. By the time I was off the phone, the anesthesiologist had come up because they thought they were going to have to intubate him. Fortunately, they didnít have to do that. But, they called Doernbecher Childrenís Hospital and reserved a pediatric ICU bed for him. They sent a special team down via helicopter to pick him up.
My husband arrived not long after I received this news. Once he arrived, I went out to call my friend and my parents and let them know what was going on. I didnít know it but my husband had called my in-laws and asked them to go get Gavin. He hadnít been able to give them very much information about what was going on. They decided to stop by the hospital after picking up Gavin to see if we needed anything. Fortunately, they didnít bring him up, just my mother-in-law came up. I really donít think she was really prepared.
She got there just about the time helicopter crew arrived and was getting David ready to be transferred. She was freaking out and my husband had to go and deal with her. It didnít take them long to get him ready to go. My husband waited and watched the helicopter take off. I couldnít do it. I just went to our house to get some stuff together (changes of clothes, etc) to take up to Portland. It was an awful time. I have never felt so helpless in my whole life. I couldnít bear the thought of what might happen.
They had stabilized him enough to transfer him but I was so worried we would arrive at the hospital and find that things had gotten worse or maybe that he had even died. It would normally only take an hour and a half to get there, but it ended up taking about three hours because we hit rush hour traffic within about 3 miles of our exit. Arriving at the hospital was awful. He was just lying there. He was so sick he wasnít even trying to get up. This from a kid who normally runs around like a maniac.
He barely responded when he saw us. In fact, he didnít even want to be held until like midnight. It was so sad. My good friend who lives in Oregon City, came and stayed with us until my parents could arrive. My parents arrived at about 9:00. It was at that point that I realized that I hadnít eaten anything at all, all day. They left to get us some food. In some ways it was good being in the Pediatric ICU. David was by far the most healthy child there. That made me feel thankful that things werenít worse.
He ended up getting better much faster than I would have imagined. By 4:00AM the next day, he had really perked up. By about 8:00AM, he was eating and by 10:00AM they had moved us down to the regular floor. By 9:00AM on Wednesday, we were discharged and our way home. He is doing much better, but I certainly am not. I have been dealing with anxiety attacks, insomnia and anger since this all happened. I worry all of the time, especially if I hear him cough. I am angry that my husband didnít come and help me that day.
I feel bad about that day because I feel bad for my older son. It all happened on his birthday. I feel worse about it than he does. He had already had his birthday party with all of his friends so as far as he was concerned heíd already had his birthday. But, I wasnít able to make the day special at all. Logically, I know he actually kind of liked the day. He got to go to our friendís house and his grandparentís house. But I still feel bad that I didnít get to do anything special for him.
I also worry about saying too much about what happened that day because I donít want to scare him. Because of this I canít really talk about it with anyone because I donít want him to overhear what is being said. That makes it hard. I have finally told him that his brother rode on a helicopter to get to the hospital in Portland. I had to, though, because David got kind of upset when he saw a helicopter fly overhead. Someday Iíll have to tell both of them, but hopefully that day wonít come for a very long time.
Iím angry with my husband. I feel like he left me hanging on that day. He went to work even though he knew our son was pretty sick. He didnít even wait to make sure Iíd figured out where I was taking him (ER versus doctorís office), how I was going to deal with a four year old and a very sick kid at either place. I keep thinking what would have happened if Gavin would have had to watch the whole thing? And Iím left with memories of this event that I canít even begin to describe to anyone.
I do have one friend who can relate all too well to what I went through. Her first baby was born with some major birth defects. He lived for about three months and then died. She was in the room when he died. They knew he was going to die that day and her husband left for a couple of hours to finish some work and go to an appointment. She knows what itís like to have a child die and she knows what itís like to go through something like this alone. I wish that neither of us did.
Today, I took an overnight trip with a good friend of mine from high school. I wasnít sure Iíd be able to leave David overnight. The anxiety was pretty high, but I ended up being able to have some fun. It was good to get away and give my husband a chance to deal with all the medications and trying to get David to take them. It was also good to get to reconnect with my friend. We email on a fairly regular basis but seldom to we get the chance to really sit down and talk. It was good.
I got back from my trip. It was good to get away and good to get back. My husband did OK with the medications. David will tolerate the nebulizer really well. But, any oral medication can be problematic. He has one we can mix with food and he takes that OK. The other has to be forced and my husband just chose not to do it. That was a little annoying, but what can I do? Sometimes he thinks the medications arenít doing any good and wants to stop them all anyway. I donít know what to do about him.
Most of my friends canít relate and donít want to. When I start to talk about it, thereís an uncomfortable look that comes across their face. I know that itís because most of my friends are parents and donít want to think about something like this happening to their child. Heck, before this happened I thought things like this would only happen to other peopleís children. I feel alone a lot of times becuase there are so few people that can relate or even try to relate to this experience. Itís hard to get this experience out of my mind.
I canít think of anything else to say about how Iím feeling right now. Iím always worried anytime David coughs. If I see some kid with a cold I start worrying that David is going to get that cold and end up in the hospital. I feel like if he ends up in the hospital itíll mean that I havenít been a good mom and havenít done things right. I worry that my husband wonít be there to support me if we ever have another crisis. I worry that he thinks Iíll be able to handle it on my own.
Everyone keeps telling me that theyíre amazed that I didnít fall apart during the whole ordeal we went through with David, that they wouldnít have been able to let him go on the helicopter. They think that they would have cried the whole time. I cried at times during the event, but not the whole time. I knew I had to be there for my son. It wasnít a time to give in to selfish needs. Yes, freaking out when your child needs you is selfish in my opinion. Itís one of many things you give up as a parent.
You give up your right to give in to your emotions whenever you feel like it when youíre a parent. You donít rage when youíd like to because you might scare your child. You can show an appropriate level of anger when theyíve done something wrong, but you canít just fly off the handle. Itís the same when youíre in a scary situation with your child. You canít cry, scream, freak out. You hold it together so they donít see your fear. They have enough already, they donít need yours. I still feel like I have to hold it together.
I donít know when Iíll stop having to hold it together, when I can just be a mother. My psychologist says Iíll never be the same again. And I definitely think thatís true. I know Iíll always be afraid of thinking of my kids getting sick or hurt. I know how quickly things can change. I think itís sort of a good thing. I definitely am more grateful than I was before this happened. I was always thankful to have a home, children, a husband. Now, Iím grateful that I have those things. I know how precious my children are.
I need to give my husband a break and realize that heís trying. He is trying to be more involved in Davidís medication schedule. I knows what needs to be done now and thatís a good thing. He still doesnít think that they do much for him, other than the albuterol that stops his coughing, but at least he agrees that heís not the one who should decide what he needs to take, that we need to talk to the doctor about that. He also realizes that I have a lot on my mind at times because of the memories.
I donít know when the memories of that day will fade. My psychologist says in about three months or so, they wonít be so much on my mind. I hope that maybe I can go a whole day soon where I donít remember what I saw and what I felt that day. I want to remember to some extent so that I wonít make some of the same mistakes I made that day. That Iíll listen to my instincts and go to the emergency room sooner. But I donít want to think about it every day, with this same intensity.
Iíve decided that if I keep writing about that day that my memories arenít going to fade. I think Iím just going to use this forum to write about my day and think about the good things in my life and what is going right. And also that March 19th doesnít have to define my life as a mother or even as a person. Things will get better. They are getting better now and my son is reasonably healthy now. I have that to be very gradeful for. My husband is also a pretty good guy, which is something great.
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