Sunday’s Scare

It started out like most other evenings where Tim is heading into nights. I try to get the kids settled a little early to make up for whatever else comes our way. With three little kids, it’s always something nightmares, growing pains, or just “I’m thirsty!” I plopped all three kids in the tub. Other than a little eye goo Ellie was fine. I was giving her 24 hours to get over it on her own before I pestered our doctor. Ellie happily sat in the tub playing with her big brothers and I started to clean up the kitchen and put away laundry, usual stuff. I wander in and out of the bathroom, they play and soak off most of the kid grime. 

Ellie started crying, so I picked her up and put her in the shower for a quick soap bubble rinse off. I admit it, I yelled at the boys from dripping water from one end of the bathroom to the other getting extra washcloths. (They pretend they are seals).  I started drying Ellie off when I noticed she was a strange color, kind of purplish, as though she were freezing cold even though I had just pulled her from a warm shower. I wrapped the towel around her and took her to her room where I sat down to rock her and warm her up before putting her clothes on.  She had stopped fussing and was nodding off. I don’t know how to explain that this just isn’t something my kids do. Even when exhausted by a long day of play they still look at books or play with toys for a long time before settling down for the night. They don’t nod off. Ever.

This is when I began to get scared. I put her diaper on and some warm pjs since she still seemed chilled. She wasn’t rousing and that’s when I paid attention to her breathing, it was shallow and she paused between breaths. I called my mom. I thought I might be overreacting, but she agreed with my desire to take her to the ER. I had begun to wonder if maybe she had been knocked over in the tub. I began to be scared she was drowning in front of me, even though her color was better. I called Tim while I finished getting everyone ready to head out the door.

I loaded all the kids and headed toward the Moncks Corner Trident. I don’t particularly care for that place, but sometimes you take the closest option.

She wouldn’t wake up. I drove with one hand behind me,, shaking and tickling her foot, “Ellie, Ellie, stay awake. Talk to mama. Please? Aidan, tell me if her eyes are open.”

Aidan, “They’re shut, Mama.”

Cue other child dramatics, Mark unlocks and opens one of the rear doors. Tim had taken one of the carseats on accident and frankly, I just wasn’t going to quibble over 2 inches when the baby couldn’t breathe. Ellie was in Mark’s seat and Mark was strapped in the booster which must give him more freedom than the standard seat.

Eventually we arrive, she’s still doing the shallow breaths with long pauses and doesn’t want to come around. Her eyes would open for a few seconds, not really focusing and then she’d fall back asleep. This ER has a security guard that helps out with admin. I thought filling out the form with trouble breathing, poor color, unusually sleepy might move things along. No.

I was sent to the waiting area where the boys pushed the limits, knowing I was distracted and while I’m sorry they were being obnoxious, I couldn’t really care at that moment. I was trying to get Ellie to stay awake, trying to get her to do anything other than lie limply in my arms. My mother arrived to help with the boys before I was called to fill out paperwork. I was waffling in that grey area, not knowing if I needed to cause a scene. Eventually we were called to the admin desk and as soon as they had the insurance information (which this order of events pisses me off) we were taken into triage.

The male nurse began to take Ellie’s vitals and he quickly became very concerned, as she didn’t want to rouse for him, either. Her temperature at that point was 99, which didn’t say much. I think we were both operating under the idea that something had to have happened in the tub, since I couldn’t officially rule it out. There was some discussion in the hallway that I could half hear, about where to put Ellie, my nurse won and we were headed for Room 1, where we would spend the next six hours. They took her temperature again and this time it was 103.5. I don’t think I have ever been reassured by a fever before

Blood draws, strep tests, flu tests, chest x-rays, urine cultures all followed in rapid succession and she only came around for the worst of each procedure. When the IV was put in I sent my keys with someone to give to my mom so she could take the boys out for ice cream rather than annoying the entire waiting room. Some tests and observations came back, no pneumonia, no UTI, but she did have strep and the doctor believes she also has the flu, but because everything happened so quickly she wasn’t carrying enough of a viral load to show up on the swab. They began to administer antibiotics via IV for the strep and Ellie and I settled in for the wait and the inevitable insurance argument. Cigna Health Insurance, if you are monitoring your Google Alerts, have your damn customer service line open for emergencies. To not have someone on is ridiculous and lead to unnecessary stress and frustration trying to convince the admin lady that we have an FSA and yes, you got poor reviews on the follow up survey.

Around 11 the doctor ordered another blood test to check her white count, which had risen. Even though Ellie had perked up some, the doctor wanted to perform a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. 

I sent my mom home with the boys.

I can handle needles and blood, but I chickened out of staying in the room for the spinal tap.  I stood in the hallway and prayed. The fluid looked clear and the preliminary tests showed no infection. At 2 am we were released to go home with antibiotic prescriptions and strict orders to follow up with our family doctor.

We still have no idea why she had trouble breathing. It’ll be a while before I’m comfortable leaving her, since it came on so fast. It’s Tuesday morning and she has the sparkle back in her eyes. She’s not up to full speed, but she’s on her way.


#1 Stacey Crew on 03.10.09 at 5:06 am

Heather, Wow! What a terrifying experience. So glad Ellie is on the mend.

#2 jag on 03.10.09 at 5:08 am

Oh my God, what a horrifying experience. I am so sorry, and I’m glad you were able to get her there quickly. Hope she’s all the way back to normal soon.

#3 imabug on 03.10.09 at 5:12 am

woo, scary but I’m glad to hear that she’s recovering.

#4 Jared on 03.10.09 at 5:36 am

Wow, Heather. That’s even scarier than it sounded over Twitter, and that was scary enough. Really glad to hear that Ellie’s on the road back to good health. And bad on Cigna. Bad, bad, bad.

#5 newscoma on 03.10.09 at 5:36 am

Oh Heather. Sending you many hugs and good thoughts. That is terrifying.

#6 buffi on 03.10.09 at 5:39 am

How infuriating. I agree that the priority should be to care for the child who is barely breathing & THEN sort out the insurance. I’m so glad that she’s on the mend. Bless your hearts. I know you’ll be holding her a little tighter for the next few weeks!

#7 Jean on 03.10.09 at 5:51 am

Ugh, I’m sorry the flipping beaurocracy is so bad. If you have alternate care for the other kids, frankly, an ambulance is the way to go. If you’re taken in by ambulance normally you get seen immediately without triage (it’s done on the way in) or insurance hassles before you’re seen. Obviously there is SOME triage (a coding heart attack by ambulance is seen before a broken arm with a simple fracture by ambulance) but a child with trouble breathing who’s mostly unresponsive? Right up on the top of the list.

#8 Dewaine on 03.10.09 at 5:59 am

Wow! Let me say that backwards. Wow! Thank God that she’s okay.

#9 A Mother’s Scare « All Signs Point 2 God on 03.10.09 at 6:02 am

[…] A Mother’s Scare Heather Solos, of Moncks Corner Moments and Home Ec 101, had a huge scare with her daughter Sunday night. Praise God that she’s getting better.  Read about it here. […]

#10 saraclark on 03.10.09 at 6:28 am

So scary and yet you sound so calm and organized. It might not have felt that way, but you did everything you could. I am glad she is OK. The Twitters were valuable updates.

#11 Ask The Audience: Scary Story Time | Home Ec 101 on 03.10.09 at 8:52 am

[…] while I’ve been off dealing with that, Heather had a MAJOR scare with one of her kids. Her daughter is doing a lot better today, and Heather’s still (understandably) a bit shaken […]

#12 Heather on 03.10.09 at 10:34 am

Oh, I was a wreck yesterday. It usually takes a while for traumatic events to hit home. I always feel very disconnected from everything as it happens. I suppose it’s a good thing, but I’ve been called cold for it. I think though it helps me stay out of the way or even be helpful during emergencies.

Thank you everyone for your kind words.

#13 Pam on 03.10.09 at 3:27 pm

WOW!!! how very scary……bless your heart…..Pam, South Bend

#14 Mom of three on 03.10.09 at 3:46 pm

This same thing happened to #3 when she was a baby, but no tub. She stopped breathing while I was waiting on an ambulance and we had to do rescue breathing. It was a febral seizure. When they decided to do the spinal tap, I nearly passed out. But 24 hours later, she was fine and hasn’t had another attack since.

Why does it seem when it rains, it pours?

#15 Erin on 03.10.09 at 5:22 pm

I am so glad it turned out well. Just one more piece of evidence for the “trust your gut” school of parenting!

#16 joan on 03.10.09 at 5:22 pm

Poor little critter! Poor you. Thank goodness whatever it was seemed to resolve but that kinda leaves you with unanswered questions. Hope she is better and back to normal.

#17 Fawn on 03.10.09 at 9:44 pm

Ohh, Heather, that’s terrifying! Wow, I can’t imagine dealing with that kind of emergency with two extra kids in tow. You are one tough mama.

#18 acarman on 03.11.09 at 11:04 am

Garsh Heather! That’s NUTS! Sorry it was so traumatic! If you EVER need to drop off your boys – just do it. Call on your way-forget prior arrangements! Standing invite!

#19 Tricia on 03.11.09 at 1:50 pm

I am sorry to hear you went threw all that stress with your baby girl. I am glad to hear things are looking good for Ellie!!! You sure had your hands full. I am glad your mom was able to help out. Hi Mrs. Kathy! Keep us posted. XO

#20 jen on 03.11.09 at 6:18 pm

Wow! The trauma center brings about its own brand of trauma. I really am so glad that Ellie is ok. Scary scary thing when the kids are sick and we don’t know why. Moms are so great, aren’t they. Mine has come through for so many times.

#21 Malia on 03.16.09 at 6:39 am

I’m so relieved to hear that she’s alright! How scary and shame on them for not seeing her immediately! My mom used to work for Cigna…no love lost there! She had problems with getting all her benefits and she was an employee! They are not know for their stellar customer service.

I hope she has continued to improve and is not giving you any more scares!

#22 Taylor on 03.20.09 at 7:53 am

Wow Heather…this is really scary! Glad to hear she’s doing better, though. I’ll keep y’all in my thoughts.

#23 Lynn on 03.31.09 at 10:32 am

Ugh poor everyone! I can’t imagine how horrifying that must have been.
I had a similar experience at the er when Jacob had his first peanut reaction. Only time I’ve ever been ushered straight in at an er is when I put a knife through my finger. Apparently spurting blood is more important than children who can’t breathe?

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