A Scare

Zachary’s asthma had been inching back into view the last couple of weeks. It started slowly, and he required nightly breathing treatments at bedtime. Then, he started needing a treatment at bedtime and one or two during the night. Then, cold symptoms appeared, and Zachary got more miserable. By the time we got to our out-of-town destination to celebrate Christmas with family, his asthma was getting out of control.

We ended up going to ER the next night after returning back home since the rescue medicines that we have at home were not making much of a dent in his coughing and wheezing. That trip to ER ended up being a 10-hour experience that lasted from 8PM to 6AM. It was brutal, being there all night long and getting no sleep at all.

Zach was diagnosed with walking pneumonia, bronchitis, and bronchospasms along with his asthma. At the end of the 10 hours, his stats had improved enough to head back home.

We came home, crawled into bed at 6:30AM and slept for 6 hours. We continued treatments and meds throughout that day, New Year’s Eve.

At 6:30PM Zachary asked if he could stay up til midnight to see the new year in. I responded with an “absolutely not!” Then, less than 30 minutes later, Zippy had showered and crawled back in the bed before 7:00PM.

That night proved to be a bad asthma night, too. We continued treatments each time Zippy woke up coughing and wheezing. How it happens with him is he breathes in pretty decently, but the air gets stuck in his lungs, and he can’t exhale. He coughs violently to push the air out of his lungs. The medicines work to open up the passageways, stop the spasms, and allow the air to enter and exit more easily.

Finally at 1AM, Zippy woke up in a coughing fit. He vomitted several times and was in a violent coughing fit having lots of trouble with every single breath. In between heaves, I heard him say to himself very matter of factly, “I’m dying.”

He is well aware how serious asthma is and knows that he could have died from asthma several times in his life.He also has heard stories of when he had pneumonia when he was 5 and knows that pneumonia can be deadly, too.

He came back to the bed and we began more treatments which were terribly slow to help his breathing. He was in pain and was really struggling to breathe. I looked up from working on the nebulizer and meds to see his very large, very panicked eyes, and they were brimming with tears.

“Am I gonna die?” he asked with thick, very real fear.

“No, Baby. You’re not gonna die. We’ve got this,” I tried to assure him.

But he wouldn’t be convinced and the tears started falling and the wails started sounding. He was sure this was the end and that he was dying.

I had to give him a stern talking to about not crying. Crying at a time like this would do nothing but exasperate the problems, causing more mucus and more issues. I reminded him that now was not the time to cry and tried to assure him that he was not going to die.

“We’ve got this,” I said over and over. “But you have to keep breathing. Don’t talk; don’t cry. Your job is to breathe. We’ve got this.”

In a whispered voice between gasps of air, he asked me to get Dad and Elliot. He wanted them in the room and wanted hugs from them. He told me later that he remembers one night when paramedics were in our house working on him during an asthma attack, and Elliot was watching, with terrified eyes, from the hallway. For some reason, that’s why Zippy needed him in there now.

I didn’t get Elliot, but I did go get Paul to be with Zachary, who was still in repiratory distress.

Just so you know, I realize I really should have called 911 at that point, but I decided to give it another minute. Thankfully, things started to turn around really shortly.

I laid there beside him with my hand on his chest, feeling and listening carefully to each breath. I kept checking in with Zachary, asking if he could feel the medicine helping or not so I’d know whether to call the ambulance or not. He said each time that it was getting better. Finally, one time when I asked, he noticed his voice was stronger and it didn’t hurt to answer me, and he got a little spark in his eye.

“I did it! It’s gone for now!” he said with a big smile and an amazing amount of relief.

And, yes, it was over for now. This terrible attack was done, and we could rest for a bit.

We laid there together and tried to relax back to sleep while I kept my hand on my boy’s chest. When I noticed his eyes still open, I knew he was struggling with a fear that 11-year-olds shouldn’t have to struggle with.

“You can go to sleep, Baby. I’m not going to let you die,” I said, realizing the trust he had to have in me at times like this.

“Will you wake me up if it gets bad again?” he needed to know.

“Your body will wake you up. You can go to sleep. It’s okay,” I told my scared little boy.

And he closed his eyes and was asleep in 60 seconds, feeling secure enough to give in to sleep.

I laid there with my hand on his chest, listening to his breathing for a long time. I wished that I never had to say such a phrase to my child: “You can go to sleep, Baby. I’m not going to let you die.” The things I never thought I’d have to say…

But then I thought of people I know who have been in the position that they couldn’t make that promise to their child because their health was so bad and was so out of their control that they couldn’t promise their child that they wouldn’t die while they were asleep.

And I was thankful. Thankful for my son … and for my other two children. Thankful for how blessed and healthy we all really are. Thankful that I could promise Zachary with confidence that I would take care of him. Thankful. So thankful.


2 responses to this post.

  1. You made me cry 😦


  2. Posted by runningbec on January 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    poor baby. I hope he’s feeling better.


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