Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just Breathe, Part 2: The Panic Button

We hit the panic button Sunday night. Actually, I think we prematurely hit the panic button Sunday night. I heard my daughter through the monitor at around nine and she didn’t sound right. I ran up the flight of stairs and sure enough she was really stuffy and congested. I tried suctioning her out with a bulb and cursed the sky that I hadn’t hung on to my son’s old suction machine for the millionth time since her birth.

I tried settling her down, but she wasn’t having it. She coughed, and the cough became mangled and her breathing sped up and the cough got mangled again and my husband and I both went pale as we looked at each other and then back at her. We both started wracking our brains about what might be going on. We had gone back to the river again for the second time in about a week and had a lovely time. She played with the grass and I wondered if she had an allergic reaction. We fed her strawberry yogurt and despite all the research we’d done, we worried she might have an allergic reaction to that.

We called the nurse’s help line listed on the back of our insurance card and explained the situation. Their recommendation was to call 911. We weighed our options as she slowly righted herself and stopped crying. As we saw it, we had one of three options. We could wait it out at home, put her in the car and take her to the hospital, or call 911. A million thoughts rushed through each of our heads simultaneously. If we kept her home, we ran the risk that it would get worse and how horrible would we have felt if it did get worse and we hadn’t done anything? If we took her into the hospital in our car, we ran the risk that she could have an event her car seat the way Ukiah did at 7 months and that terrified us both. If we called 911 at least we had a safety net. We just didn’t know if she really needed it or not, but at a certain level we didn’t care.

So at 9:30 at night, we called 911. The fire department showed up first, followed by the ambulance. By that time, she was fine, smiling gamely at the firemen (until they touched her) and back in good spirits. But we hated risking it, we couldn’t bear if things got worse and we hadn’t done everything to prevent it. Everyone looked at us trying to convince us with their eyes that we didn't need to go in. But we couldn't trust their assurances, unspoken or otherwise. We couldn't trust our own daughter's airway to do what it was supposed to, obviously, so we weren't going to trust the assessments of a bunch of strange men in out house. So we made the ambulance ride the ten miles to the hospital. We spent another five hours in the hospital, listening to all manner of weirdoes and put-upon curmudgeons who apparently frequent the ER in the middle of the night. We tried not to get too irate at a drunk girl admitted to the ER by her parents when she woke up our daughter and then told our daughter to shut up (true story! ER = fun happy story time!)

We found out she had a cold. We spent a whole evening in the ER because of a cold. And you know what, I don’t regret it. I don’t care if I’m being over-protective or if you think I scare easily. After everything I’ve been through, I’ve earned my right to press the panic button when I think it is right, pre-maturely or not. Because I love my daughter just as fiercely as I did my son and I will fight tooth and nail to make sure she’s alright. I’ll do all manner of things, including singing children’s songs just loud enough to drown out drunken ramblings so that my daughter can get to sleep. I’ll do anything I can just to ensure she’s breathing, even if that includes dialing 911 when I probably didn’t need to.

But just to be safe, don’t sneeze in front of me if I have a phone in my hands. I have a real itchy trigger finger.

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