Saturday, January 12, 2008

Things that go wheezing in the night

Oops, he did it again. He scared the ever-loving shit out of us.

Let me back up a few days. On Wednesday night, Monkey Man had a little cough. And I mean little, itty bitty normal-sounding wintertime cough.

On Thursday, I picked him up from school and he had the typical green boogery nose stuff. We ventured down to the urgent care place and since they had no one in the waiting room, we dashed on in there. Potential upper respiratory infection, we were told, and handed some cough syrup with coedine and some augmentin. Problem solved, right?

Friday afternoon, I picked Monkey Man up from school again and his nose looked a little worse. He coughed a little, but it was that typical sinus drainage cough he gets every time he gets a sinus infection. No problem, right? We've got antibiotics started and some kickass cough medicine for him. Everything will be fine.

Um, yeah, not so much.

See, our bedroom is on the first floor of the house. Monkey Man's is on the second, and at the top of some very slippery wooden stairs. And my child, who normally isn't scared of a whole lot of anything, will NOT get out of his bed by himself. That's right, if he needs something he will call us and we go upstairs and tend to whatever it is he needs. It doesn't happen often, usually he's sick or something, but he just won't get out of bed without us being in the room. I'm not sure how this happened, and it borders on the verge of being kind of creepy, but I'd rather have that than a kid bumping around the house in the night and potentially falling down the stairs.

So we use a baby monitor. Still. Yes, my son is six and he still has a monitor in his room. And I've made apologies for it in the past, I was embarrassed that I just couldn't let go of that stupid monitor.

Well, last night, that monitor probably saved his life.

We had moved the monitor closer to his bed right around New Year's because we reconfigured his room, and honestly since we moved it closer to the bed the damn thing had been driving us crazy at night. You could hear his toenails on the sheets, it's that strong of a monitor. We discussed moving it, turning it down, and getting rid of it. And it's probably a good thing that we never got around to doing anything about it.

At 9 PM Friday night, we put Monkey Man to bed. He had taken the augmentin and the kickass cough syrup. I settled in on the couch, Joey retired to the Man Cave. Everything was quiet. Around 11:30, Joey emerged from the Man Cave so I got up from the couch and moved into the bedroom. I could hear Monkey Man quietly breathing on the monitor. Aaaah, peace.

Suddenly, just before 1 AM, I heard this really odd sound. It was like this high-pitched cough - not a croupy, seal-like cough, but it was enough that I went ahead and grabbed my pillow, blanket, and the monitor and headed upstairs to the guest room. When it's a "coughing night", one of us will usually bite the bullet and move to the guest room with the monitor so the other could get some sleep. I got my little nest ready, used the bathroom, and got ready to settle in. and then I heard him cough again. It sounded wrong.

I walked into his room and saw him flailing around in the bed. He was still asleep (did I mention he's a stellar sleeper and could sleep through a tornado?) and was gasping for air. I didn't panic - I figured that he was so congested in his nose that he'd probably been mouth-breathing the whole time and just needed a drink of water. So I got a sippy cup, and tried to get him to drink. He wouldn't. Or maybe couldn't. At this point, I woke him up and got him into the bathroom so I could clear his nose out...and that's when things got ugly.

At the moment we got into the bathroom I started to realize something was really, really wrong. He was gasping for air, and then began pounding on his upper chest and gesturing that he couldn't breathe. I ran downstairs to get Joey and when we got back upstairs Monkey Man was downright hysterical. I mean damn, the kid couldn't breathe for shit and was trying to cough up something into the sink...and nothing came up. After a few precious minutes trying to get him (and me) to calm down, we decided to call 911.

It was the longest ten minutes of my life. Luckily, our first responder station is by the airport so they have some of the best EMT's on staff there, trained to handle all kinds of stuff. And not only did they send an ambulance, but a big fire truck too. Monkey Man's eyes were as big as saucers as six men came stampeding up the stairs and started checking vital signs and such. And yup, just as I had seen with a flashlight, his throat was almost swollen shut. They got him outside, loaded him into the ambulance, and started giving him nebulized oxygen (which is basically like a cool mist humidifier). He seemed to be calming down and his breathing improved.

Then the decision was made that we would take him to the best pediatric hospital in the city, a good 40 minute drive from our house. I guess we could've taken him, but at that point we were petrified that the breathing issues would start again - and certainly other than trying to MacGyver some kind of contraption ourselves, it would be better off to have trained medical professionals take him so that if things got bad they had the knowledge and tools to get him stabilized again. I hopped into the back of the ambulance, Joey followed behind, and we raced into the night.

Halfway to the hospital, I noticed that Monkey Man seemed to be perking up. I started teasing him that his little nebulizer thing looked like an elephant trunk and that we should've brought his elephant ears that he made in school. I got the "Mom, you're embarrassing me" look so I knew he was on the road to recovery. And as we rode on, he was waving out the back window at Joey, trying to talk to me about something that happened at school, and then announced to the EMT that was riding with us, "I get to ride in the ambulance just like Crazy Mike (a.k.a. Cat Door), but I don't have MASSIVE DIARRHEA like he did!" I'm not sure what the EMT was thinking at that point.

We arrived at the hospital, bid our adieu to the great EMT guys (who honestly were so nice and great with Monkey Man), and then the ER staff took over.

The preliminary diagnosis was croup...which apparently may be a misdiagnosis. Croup tends to be centered in the lungs - and his lungs are clear and the lower airway sounded fine. It's his upper throat that is so swollen, so during our post-ER-visit consultation this morning, my brother-in-law believes that perhaps it's parainfluenza virus (which is related to croup but has some different manifestations). And, in typical Monkey Man pattern, when he gets something he gets like the worst case ever. Go figure.

We finally got home around 4 AM - Monkey Man was totally wired up after a huge dose of killer steroids to the point he was singing songs in the ER and Joey and I kept looking at each other like, "the kid can't breathe an hour ago and now he's singing The Wheels on the Bus?" Unbelievable. But we all crashed and for the rest of the weekend we will be housebound. We'll miss out on the family dinner at my nephew's house tonight, but I prefer to think that we're doing them a favor by not bringing our little petri dish with us.

You know, I thought I was scared back in 2006 with our little Tonsil Hell. And the whole time that was going on leading up to the trip to the PICU, I knew something was wrong. And when we were rushed to the hospital, part of me was almost relieved that someone had finally figured out what was wrong with my boy.

Last night was different. Watching him struggle to breathe. Feeling helpless. And finally when he looked at us tearfully and squeaked out "I don't want to die!" I had to turn away. It was all I could do to keep myself held together. How did it turn so bad so quickly? That's the nature of the beast, apparently. And it's a bitch. I've been weepy all morning but I've got to pull my shit together. There's a boy sitting over on the couch that wants to play with his Hot Wheels, and dammit, we're going to do it.


Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Oh god Liz. How horrible. I started crying at the last paragraph. Hugs to you all.

Gretchen said...

How scary!

I'd been thinking things were too quiet around your house... Hope he's right as rain again soon!

Esmerelda said...

Oh, honey. My heart goes out to you. I did that ride with D when he was barely a year old. I was fighting with X at the time because he said he didn't need to go to the ER. The EMT's disagreed.

Glad monkey man is fine. This is the kind of excitement you don't need!!

MPPs Mom said...

holy crap. what an ordeal. i'm so glad everything is okay. I have chills reading through that.

Heather said...

Glad everything turned out okay! Must have been a very scary night. Enjoy your time at home with MM this weekend.

Mitzi Green said...

jesus christ, liz--can't that kid "just" get a cold????

fwiw, in the same circumstance, someone would have to have slapped me to stop my hysterics.

joansy said...

Damn. Damn. Damn.
What a horrible episode for all of you and so glad to hear that he's okay today. Amazing.

Tanaya said...

Thank goodness for mother's intuition and that monitor! I'm so glad he's OK and that the EMTs were there.

g-man said...

Hugs to you all. That is truly a horrifying feeling, and I am glad it is over, and that it all worked out.

Anonymous said...

How horribly scary. My heart goes out to all of you. I'm glad he's okay.



Mrs. Wheezer said...

Holy crap!!!!!! So glad he's doing better, and I hope he's 100% very soon.