Trust your gut

The weekend before last was supposed to be like any other weekend. My husband Matt works shift work, so on his weekends off, we try to get in as much family time as possible, while squeezing in chores, appointments and events. This set of days off we didn’t have a lot planned so we were looking forward to some down time at home.

It started out that way, but it didn’t last.

Our son Beau caught a cold so we knew we wouldn’t be going too far or getting together with anyone. Matt’s first day off was Friday and it was that day that we noticed a change in Beau. He started to sound wheezy, he was losing his voice and his chest was tight. We decided to keep an eye on it and if it worsened, we would head to the hospital. We usually aren’t quick to jump in the truck and b-line it for the hospital, but he hasn’t had his flu shot yet and we are in the depths of germ season.

The day went on, and around supper time we felt it was time to take him to emergency. He was tired, sluggish and his symptoms were pronounced. We called a dear friend of ours to come over and watch our 7 month old so that we wouldn’t have to take her into the cesspool that is the emergency room…

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Falling asleep in daddy’s arms while waiting in the emergency room

It was incredibly busy and we ended up waiting 4 hours to see the doctor. While we were in the waiting room, Beau tried to sleep, but every few minutes he would wake up crying, coughing and trying to catch his breath. We were anxious to see the doctor because we were worried he might be suffering from pneumonia. He had it when he was 4 months old and the doctor at that time, said it was likely that he could easily get it again (I’m not sure if this is accurate information, that’s just what we remember her saying).

The doctor checked him over, we reviewed his history and without any further testing, she concluded that he just had “some type of infection”. We never did get an actual diagnosis. Now looking back, I shouldn’t have been okay with that, but I guess we all want to trust that the medical professionals know what they’re talking about. What we have to remember is that they are human too and can still make mistakes. I should have gone with what my gut was telling me, but we took what was said and ran with it.

By the time we received our prescription for antibiotics and ventolin, it was too late to go to the pharmacy, so the doctor ordered his first dose of antibiotics to be taken before we left the hospital, and we could go get our prescription the next morning. They also sent us home with some ventolin to help us get through the night. We headed for home in hopes that our little man would feel a tad better from the medication he had…

But that night was horrendous.

We didn’t get to bed until close to midnight and longed for some much-needed rest, yet instead, we spent the entire night waking up every 15-30 minutes to Beau crying and struggling to breathe. Every inhale and exhale sounded so strained, as if he had a bad smokers cough. On top of that, our baby also kept us up, making it a very strenuous and long night.

In the morning, Matt drove into town and picked up the prescription while I stayed home with the kids. We continued with the antibiotics and the ventolin but Beau seemed to go downhill, not perk up like the doctor said he would. I had posted on Facebook asking for prayer for him and I had countless moms message me to offer advice. As I sit here typing this, I think about how thankful I am to have had that many people reach out to me. If not for them, we may not have made the next move that we did.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. To those of you that were so willing to help us in the midst of this alarming situation.

After much thought and discussion, we made the choice to take Beau into the children’s hospital. He was deteriorating and it was becoming more frightening as each hour passed. It was time to trust our instincts.

He had one last ‘episode’ before we left and it was enough to let us know that we were making the right decision. He was gasping for air and we were making every attempt possible to help him breathe. We watched as his throat and chest caved in with every breath. It’s a moment that I can’t shake from my memory, as much as I would like to. And I can’t begin to explain what it felt like as a mother, watching your son crave for a breath. Every inhale chillingly defining his tiny toddler body. The fear written all over his face. His hands covering his mouth while he tries to calm down his hysterical sobbing, which was only making matters worse. The piercing sound of his wheezing that made me long to take a deep breath for him. The blatantly obvious look he gave me, desperately wanting my help.

I didn’t want to just help him… I wanted to take it all away from him.

We quickly grabbed our things, left our baby with our (amazing!) friend once again, and headed to the city. The drive there felt like an eternity and every time Beau made a peep I turned around to check on him. You could say I watched him like a hawk (mommy paranoia!)

Once there, we waited in the triage line, where I myself, secretly tried to triage the rest of the room. I had to detect a “safe” place for us to sit that was far enough away from all the coughing, sneezing, snot nosed children that surrounded us.

We saw a nurse who rapidly sped through her questions, only stopping with confusion when we told her what the first doctor had said. She was shocked that we didn’t get an actual diagnosis, yet were still given medication to treat what he “could” have. She also seemed unsure and concerned of what Beau was overcome with. She gave Beau some tylenol (he had a fever) and a popsicle. We sat down in the waiting room where we only had to sit tight an hour or so before they called us in.

The doctor we saw was incredible and I wish I could remember her name so I could go back and thank her. She was thorough, attentive and careful through it all. She seemed very sure after checking Beau that he had croup. During our time with her, Beau had perked up a little, which is frustrating for a parent when trying to explain how frightening the situation had been prior. I feel like they don’t take you seriously enough. But she was cautious after hearing us out and watching his breathing, and presented us with a plan.

She was going to give him a steroid to help fight the inflammation in his airways, which in turn, would help him breathe easier. The steroid was slow acting, so it would take 4 hours to kick in, with the exception that sometimes after 2 hours it would start working. She gave it to him around 7:30 and wanted to see him at 9:30 to observe how he was doing. She asked a nurse to show us to the results room down the hall where we could wait if we’d like, or we had the option to wonder around the hospital and maybe grab a bite to eat; we chose the latter.

We left the Emergency department and made our way to the cafeteria. Beau was stable at this point so we tried to get him to eat something but he wasn’t interested. We quickly ate and then checked out some of the features of the hospital. Beau loved looking at the fish aquarium and the cute little play area by the cafeteria. I wasn’t too keen on him touching everything so we kept reinforcing that he needed to keep his hands out of his mouth. We also doused ourselves in hand sanitizer the entire time we spent at the hospital. You can never be too careful.

We noticed around 9:00 that Beau’s breathing was getting worse again. He was making very raspy, strider sounds, just like he did at home before the first attack. We thought best that we head back to the Emergency department just to be safe. Before we headed that way, I went for a quick bathroom break, and when I was walking back towards the guys, I could tell something was wrong. Beau was having trouble breathing again. I tried to calm him down as quickly as possible but he was too worked up. I scooped him up in my arms and we rushed back to Emergency.

I’m not sure why we did what we did next. Maybe because every medical professional we saw so far made us seem like Beau’s condition wasn’t life threatening so we didn’t want to come off as deranged, paranoid parents.

We walked into the results room they had shown us earlier, where we found other children waiting the outcome of their medication. I found a seat, but before Matt could sit down next to me, the nurse that was in the room took one short glance at us, and in an assertive voice said, “you’re coming with me”.

You know those movie scenes where the main character is living in slow motion, while watching the rest of the world around her move in lightning speed? Yeah, that’s what these next few moments felt like.

I knew he was struggling but I didn’t know how serious it was until I could actually feel him stop breathing in my arms. It happened in the moments we transferred from one room to another. This was the moment I peeled him away from me and saw the blueish color that had taken over his body. The nurse that had escorted us to the room was nowhere in sight. I knew she was getting something to help him but panic flooded my body and I ran to the door frantically yelling “he isn’t breathing!”

Seconds later (which felt like hours) the nurse came back, along with a few others and the doctor. I’m not sure how many times I said “he isn’t breathing” but I know I made it well-known. They didn’t waste any time getting an epinephrine mask on him while I did my best to keep it together and be brave for my son.

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our little warrior ❤

After the medication kicked in, Matt and I were able to take a deep breath and regain our composure. Although, those moments of silence while curled up with Beau on the hospital bed, holding the mask to his face, left me fighting back tears. I had held them in as long as possible but eventually they won the war. I was curled up with Beau in a way that he couldn’t see my face, so I let the streams flow.

Around 10pm the mask came off and he was able to breathe a bit clearer, but it was evident that he was still battling the illness. We spent the next 7 hours talking to doctors, comforting Beau, getting X-rays, checking vitals and waiting for the next move.

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He perked up a little when the nurse brought him a popsicle. She scored bonus points for bringing him his favorite color!

The doctor’s biggest concern from the first set of  X-rays, was that there was something detected behind his airway. She was worried it could be a bacterial infection or an abscess, but she was hoping it was just swelling. Because of this factor, she wanted to put an IV in Beau’s hand and do some blood work. This was another tough mommy moment, but we all held it together and once again, our little boy surprised us. He was such a champ! She also ordered a second set of X-rays to double-check, and was confident in her findings. No infection and no abscess! We were thankful to say the least!

It was a long night, and we were already spent from not sleeping the night before, so we tried our best to wait patiently to see what the doctor wanted us to do next. Beau dosed off (finally!) around 3am and around 3:30am we received confirmation that we would be admitted. We were escorted to the Paediatrics floor around 4:30am and once we were settled into our room, we caught a few hours of rest. Matt and I took turns sharing the extra bed in the room while the other snuggled up at the foot of Beau’s bed.

Beau woke up a couple of times during those few hours of sleep. I think he was confused as to where he was and also deranged from lack of sleep. It startled us every time he woke because we were also disoriented and running on fumes. He would easily settle though and fall back asleep.

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sweaty and sleepy boy, all tucked in tight

Matt and I set an alarm for 7am so that we could figure out a game plan for the day. We wanted to set things in motion in case we would be staying in the hospital for another day or two. We made some arrangements for our daughter at home and for a friend to bring us some items, but shortly after we did that, the paediatric doctor came in and informed us that we might be able to go home in a few hours. We were thrilled, although I was slightly nervous after everything we had witnessed in the days prior. I wanted to be absolutely sure that we weren’t taking any major risks by leaving.

The doctor calmed any fears I had and they did a thorough exam on Beau before letting us go. They kept a very close eye on him all night and his breathing had improved by morning. He was still raspy and the strider breathing was still present, but not nearly like it was before. They told us what to watch for at home and if anything changed, even the slightest, to bring him back immediately. We also received our discharge papers that had all of the doctors notes on them, so that if we wanted to, we could take him into the Olds hospital again without hesitation of not being taken seriously.

By 11am we were ready to go. We all couldn’t wait to get home, especially Beau! They took out his IV, gave another listen to his chest, then we packed up our stuff and left. Before we went home, we stopped at the pharmacy and picked up a prescription for the steroid they gave him at the hospital. They wanted to send us home with an extra dose that we could give him later that night (at the earliest) to help him get through another day. The Paedatrician said he should be feeling better in a couple of days, but that his cough and minor strider sounds, might last 4-6 weeks.

That afternoon we lit a fire to warm up the house and Beau’s breathing progressively worsened, so around suppertime we took him into the Olds hospital just to be safe. On the way there we noticed it eased up, but we took him in regardless to have him checked out. The doctor informed us that heat can intensify croup symptoms, where as cold is like a quick cure. We had our suspicions that this was what was happening. The doctor suggested that we give him the steroid prescription to help him sleep that night, so that’s exactly what we did. We also closed the heat vent in his room, opened his window to let it cool down, turned the heat down in the house and put a cool air humidifier in his room. We also did similar things for our daughters room because at this point in time, she was developing a cold (lovely!). After that hospital visit, anytime Beau would have a breathing fit, we would just take him outside and it worked wonders!

Throughout the rest of the week, Scarlett (our daughter) ended up with a terrible cold and we feared another hospital visit. Thankfully, a cold was all it heightened to, but we spent many nights waking up with her and with Beau. To top it all off, the cold spread to Matt and I as well. It was a drawn-out week to say the least…

And just when we thought we were over the hump, Thursday afternoon, Beau started throwing up. It was completely out of nowhere and it took me by surprise. He seemed fine that morning and then all of a sudden, water works. It was like Niagra falls. Or should I say, food falls. Yuck. He of course didn’t make it to the bathroom, so every time he purged, it left a trail for me to clean up. This was not impecable timing considering our entire household was under the weather.

Thankfully, it didn’t last too long. My worry was that he caught the stomach flu and would be suffering from that when he hadn’t even recovered from the first illness. And the panic that we all might catch the flu as well. But, we were relieved when that didn’t happen! Though… I still disinfected every inch of my house, just to be on the safe side.

The last three days we have spent healing and playing catch up. The kids are slowly getting better, as are we, and we just thank our lucky stars that everything played out as it was meant to. We felt as though the right people were placed in our situation, at exactly the right time that we needed them.

As scary as this experience was, it has made me appreciate my family’s overall health. Walking through that hospital really puts things into perspective. I kept thinking about all the family’s that spend days, weeks and maybe even months there. Every time I passed someone, I would ponder their situation and pray that it was a hopeful one.

We were also very proud of our little warrior. Anyone who knows Beau, knows how sensitive and intimidated he can be. He doesn’t like change and he doesn’t like trying new things, so whenever a new task was presented, Matt and I would squirm, knowing how he would react. But he surprised us! He was so brave and faced his fears like a true champion. I’m sure all of the overflow of prayers being sent our way had something to do with this as well.

Lastly, I need to reinforce how spectacular the entire staff at the Children’s Hospital were. Matt and I were blown away with how well they treated us and how delicately they cared for our son. It was heart warming and it made the whole experience a bit more bearable. They went above and beyond to care for us and we were wholly impressed with how in tune they are with children. We feel it’s entirely worth the trip, so from now on, if a severe situation arises, that’s where we will be taking our littles.

Again, thank you to everyone who prayed for us. We felt them and appreciated every single one. They were heard and answered. We are grateful for the outcome of this situation and give all the praise to God.

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