Sunday, February 19, 2012

Calling 911

I haven't really pondered it much, but I always pictured myself with much more composure should I ever be in need of calling 911 for one of my children. I have done it before, in work situations, or once on the road (when it was legal to dial and drive) with a suspected drunk driver careening around in front of me. However, in light of a child that is struggling to breathe, my child in fact, it looked a whole lot different than the calm, efficient detailed 911 call I'd like to believe myself capable of.

With Cooper buckled in to the car seat, thrashing about and frantic with his inability to breathe well, I too was frantic to make a decision.
"What should we do? " I cried to John, wrestling with our decision to transport him to the hospital ourselves. We stared at each other for agonizing seconds. He can't breathe, he is panicked, crying and tossing around in his car seat.
"John, should we call? What if something worse happens while I am driving?" I nearly yell, racking my brain for the right answer, tears threatening.
Finally, "call", and he hauled Cooper back out of the car seat. "Call 911," he said, his voice surprisingly soft and calm.

How do I call 911? You ever been there before, when your mind is so frantic and your hands are shaking? Tears making it hard to see the numbers on your phone? It's 911 for goodness sake!!!! My baby can't breathe, he can't breathe! What has gone so wrong in a matter of minutes that he can't FREAKING BREATHE!!!!

My voice was not calm on the phone, tears were streaming down my face, and I imagine I sounded like the frantic mother I was. I know I answered the questions, didn't make demands, and wasn't hysterical. That much I know. But I was crying, I was trying to slow my heart rate down, as I felt my heart would beat out of my chest at any moment. I paced the driveway as I answered the guy on other end. I asked if they were sending from Sudden Valley or Geneva. I was grateful when he said Geneva, as those are the guys just up the street from us. I figured they'd make it down quicker than if I'd tried to drive to the ER myself.

Back up a few minutes...just a few minutes....

Cooper was sound asleep. John had tucked them both in to bed with his usual long, drawn out bedtime ritual of Ipad games. Everything was calm and serene. I was already in jammies and in bed myself, hoping to crash after a long day. One cough, and I nearly ignored it, but another quickly followed, and sounded like one of the boys might actually be on the verge of throwing up as deep as the cough was. I got out of bed to see, and crawled in to bed with Cooper, who at this point, two coughs later, was already struggling in his bed. Quickly I pulled him out of bed, intent on seeing what's wrong. Seconds go by, only seconds, and we realize something is really wrong. He could verbalize that he couldn't breathe, he was pacing around the room, grabbing his throat, sweating and frantic. Within minutes we needed to make a decision. What should we do? What is going on? Do we take him? Do we take him? Scrambling to decide, I threw on clothes, now frantic myself with what is happening to him. Do we have enough time to drive him now? And without really having any time to talk it out, we are out in the cold night, struggling to strap him in the car seat.

The guys from Geneva arrived and took over. They saw the same things we did, and remarked that they could hear Cooper's breathing issues from the doorway. They were great, but as the minutes went on, the frantic started to settle down, and Cooper was less in distress than he had been just minutes earlier. We were left standing around, kind of looking at each other, not really sure what had happened and what to do now. We remarked that it would be nice if Bruce was around, but they had gone to Seattle for the evening. Not but a few minutes went by but the door flew open and Bruce stormed into the house. The scene created must have been so difficult for them to arrive to. Ambulance, fire truck, flashing lights, a gurney by the front door....

The distress in Coop's poor little lungs was evident to everyone. His throat had been constricted, his chest muscles involved and sucking. However, as the serious symptoms abated, the questions remaining unanswered. With nothing more to do, the Geneva guys headed out, and never have I been more thankful for their presence in our neighborhood. Bruce continued to rule things out. We thought maybe Coop had aspirated a piece of one of his chewed up dubbies. Maybe that was the sounds being heard. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

Although Bruce said that based on what he was seeing we could probably sleep on "it" tonight, it was an uneasy second "bedtime" for us all. Coop slept with us at the foot of our bed, snoring and deeply congested, but breathing. What a treasure we tend to take for granted, right?

In the morning, it was supposed to be business as usual. It was a Friday, I had work, John would stay home, Bruce would check Coop again to see what we should do with him. However, there was a shell shocked feeling to our emotions. Such a seemingly life and death struggle just hours earlier, decisions and fears, chaos and What happened? Did that really happened? Did our little boy struggle so much, did we call 911, did the medics have to come?

Ultimately, Bruce believes it was Sub-something or other Croup that hit him. The term would indicate the region of his throat the virus hit (maybe?), and the swelling that nearly shut down his airway. Higher up in his throat, a different could have resulted in an emergency trach. Bruce said he did a lot of those. Oh, man. Thankful it was probably sub-something or the other that got him...I guess. No funky sounds in the lungs by the morning, and Coop just had the typical barking croup cough and hoarse voice. I think even today I am still shaking my head at how it went from nothing, to over the moon crazy, to quickly.