On the Saturday before Christmas, we went to eat more poboys (can you sense a running theme for this trip?) at Domilise's. By this day Charlie was showing signs of a pretty bad cold. He was super congested and not feeling all that great. It seemed like he'd be fine all morning but by noon-ish he would start to feel crappy again. You can see from the picture above and below, he was happy and smiling at lunch and pretty miserable right after when we headed to my dad's office to do a few x-rays on Mitch's tooth.
Charlie had slept the entire time we were at my dad's office but once we loaded him up in the car he started to have a really (REALLY) hard time breathing. We started to drive home but by the time we were 5 minutes away from the office, Charlie's breathing started to sound like a whistle. It was so scary. It was like he was trying to breathe through one of those tiny little coffee stirring straws. I felt completely helpless. I was in the back seat with him and he just kept looking at me with a completely terrified look on his face while he desperately gasped for a breath. Then all of a sudden his whole body started shaking. His arms went up to reach for me but his little hands shook so hard that he couldn't grab a hold of me. He tried to cry but it just came out like a tiny little whimper. I kept thinking that I was somehow going to have to breath FOR him. I was gonna end up having to pull him out of his car seat and do mouth to mouth just to get a full breath in for him. We knew then that we HAD to get him to a hospital, and we'd have to do it fast.
My dad's office is just around the corner from Touro. It's the hospital where I was born and where my dad is on staff. He asked if we wanted to go there or to Children's Hospital (which is a bit further away). My mind immediately went to Tripp. Children's was the hospital he went to when he was burned and where he died just days later. They still don't know what type of infection killed Tripp. I started to really panic. Just writing this makes me go light headed and tear up. I was so scared to go there and have what happened to Tripp happen to Charlie. I told my dad that he needed to make the decision. He headed back to Touro.
Thank God, when we walked into the ER we were immediately brought back to triage. No waiting hours and hours to be seen. No "you need to fill out this paperwork first". They just brought us right back to a very nice nurse who tried to get Charlie's heart rate. He didn't like the cold stethoscope on his back so he started to whine (still not able to cry) so I started singing his favorite sleepy time song, the ABCs. He immediately calmed down. And so did I. The nurse gave me a "Good job, mom!" It lightened the weight of the situation enough to calm me down just a little.
They slipped a name band on his ankle and started to walk us back to the ER floor but turned to the four of us and said "Only one of you can go in with him" I knew it would be me and I didn't want to leave my boy, but I was so nervous. I knew they would be asking questions and spitting out medical terms that I would never remember. You know when you go to a doctor's appointment and they start talking and it's like all of a sudden you don't even know the English language? I have that problem all the time. I almost wanted to send my dad in there with Charlie. I knew he would know what they were saying and could explain what was going on better than I could. But no. It was me. I walked back into that big scary ER with all those sick people. All those germs. All those surfaces covered in God knows what. I thought of Tripp again.
Everything was moving in slow motion as they pulled back the curtains to one of the larger "rooms". They were wheeling one used bed out and replacing it with a new one. That's when I saw it. Two huge HAZMAT bins on either side of the bed. They were the size of the garbage bins we get from the city for trash, recycling, and yard waste. They were enormous. My eyes kept darting back and forth to the both of them. I just kept thinking "This is it. The same thing that happened to Tripp is going to happen to Charlie."
They told me to sit on the bed with him in my lap. Just as I did, I looked up to see my dad and Mitch walking into the room. Thank the Lord. My dad was talking to an ER nurse named Nancy. They had know each other for years so when she saw him in the waiting room she immediately walked them back to be with me and Charlie. I was so thankful, but still so scared. So when she turned to me to say hi, my eyes started to well up. I felt that burning, tingling feeling all over my face and my chin started to shake. "hi. forgive me if I cry" was all I could get out. She nodded back and gave me a knowing smile that told me it was ok.
While we waited for Charlie's breathing treatment he was starting to get restless. I had Mitch come over to hold him. It gave me a chance to text my mom and snap a few shots of him. My poor guy. He looked so sad.
Charlie really liked the breathing treatment. It was like he knew exactly what to do. As the vapor poured out of the nebulizer, he stuck his face right in it. There was already a night and day difference in his breathing. No more whistling. No more panicked look in his eyes.
Poor nugget was exhausted by this point. He looked so little and helpless in that big ol bed.
They gave him a dose of Decadron, a steroid which helped with his inflamed larynx. Then they took an x-ray of his chest to make sure he didn't have pneumonia. The doctors finally diagnose him as having a really bad case of croup. To me it sounded like a child's version of bronchitis. They also kept mentioning that they might want to transfer Charlie to Children's to have a specialist look at him. By that time his breathing was completely back to normal. I knew there was no way in hell I'd bring him there at this point since he was doing so much better. My dad turned to me after they left the room and told me that if I didn't refuse the transfer that he would. I felt a little better knowing that he thought it wasn't necessary, too.
We were release just a couple of hours after we first got there, thank goodness. I didn't want to be there a second longer than we need to be. He took a few days to get better. There were lots of hours spent under a makeshift tent with the vaporizer blasting steam while we slathered baby Vicks on his chest. but we haven't had any issues with his breathing since then.
I'm sure lots of you know that as a parent, it's so sad to see our little babies sick. But it's beyond scary to see them struggle to breathe. Mitch and his sister have both had asthma since their teens so we know it's a possibility that Charlie might end up having it, too. We'll be monitoring him closely and trying to keep him from getting croup again any time soon! In the mean time, we have five vials of Decadron ready in our medicine cabinet...just in case.