Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Lightning crashes...

Sunday morning began very ordinarily. I got up a little grouchy. I hadn't gotten very much sleep the night before, and since Sunday is my husband's day to sleep in, I was the one to get up with the baby when he woke up. My bad mood quickly faded when my son started with all his cute antics, running around the couch repeatedly and into my arms. What happened next is kind of a blur. In a second, he had gotten a cap from a water bottle into his mouth. The cap was huge in his mouth, and I lunged to get it out. By then, it was too late. He had swallowed it, and it stuck in his throat. I tried my best to reach it with my fingertips, but it was lodged too deeply. When he started suffocating, I screamed. I'd always been bewildered by women on television who scream. I always thought, what is the point in all that noise? I discovered for myself, it's involuntary. I had no control over it. The scream woke up my husband, who came running, knocking down the baby gate. By this time, I was hysterical, and I rushed out an explanation. My husband grabbed my son, moved him to the floor, and tried to grab at the edge of the cap. "I can't get it," he exclaimed in anguish. My toddler was gasping for breath, all the while biting my husband's prying fingers as hard as he could. I dialed 9-1-1 for an ambulance. The dispatcher answered the phone, and I remembered to speak calmly and clearly in order to move along the phone call in a timely manner. To put it simply, the man was a moron. I told him my name and my address. He asked for my address a number of times, and then asked, "Does that start with an 'n'?" Idiot, there's no "n" in the entire address. We finally made it to "the nature of the emergency." Thankfully, just about that time, I heard, "I got it!" from the other room. I was greatly relieved until my husband said something about blood. Blood was gurgling out of my son's throat and out the sides of his mouth. I told the dispatcher, "nevermind," and that we'd drive him to the nearest ER ourselves. "Drive careful," he said. Thanks. I ran into the living room to find my husband clutching our son and the cap caked with blood. We both took turns holding my son while we threw on the closest wrinkled and mismatched clothes we had, both with shoes and no socks.

We got to the nearest ER...closed on Sunday. What in the hell...? Remind me next time to have all my accidents during business hours. We were a mess--there was blood all over the three us. We got to a second ER. The receptionist told us to sign in without really looking up. You have to be kidding me. Just then my husband walked in with our baby in his arms. She glanced up, seeing my son with blood all over his shirt and face and me trying to sign in, and she said to me now, Nevermind that, as if it had been my idea in the first place. We rushed him into an examination room, where the doctor looked at him, and then told us that she couldn't take care of him there because they weren't equipped for pediatric care. She offered to call us an ambulance for a hospital that was about fifteen miles away. By this time, I was a little off-kilter. We decided to take our chances, driving it ourselves.

Okay, ER #3. It was packed, they wouldn't even think about seeing him until they had our insurance information. When they did finally call us, about an hour and a half later, they sent him directly to x-rays. I asked the x-ray technician if it was customary to send someone directly to x-rays without having seen a doctor. "Oh, you haven't seen a doctor yet?" she asked. My God, I thought. I'm getting mad all over again just thinking about it. The x-ray tech had been under the false impression that the cap was still lodged in his throat because the people up front hadn't filled out the paperwork correctly. I had the bloody cap, in fact, in a little baggy ER #2 had given me, labeled "biohazard." I showed it to her. They still did the x-ray to see if the throat had any swelling, sending me behind a protective wall "in case you're pregnant," although I already told them I wasn't.

Back to the waiting room where I counted how much time passed by the number of Disney movies played. Half of Toy Story, all of The Fox and the Hound, and half of Snow White. Finally, the doctor came in to tell us that, yes, there was, in fact, excessive swelling in throat. She told us what three medicines she was going to prescribe, and she would've been gone again if I didn't stop her to ask her more questions. After she left, another man came to give him an inhaler attached to a mask (similar to an oxygen mask) with epinephrine, meant to help open his airways. After this, we dressed my son in clean clothes from the diaper bag, and then went to pay the exorbitant price of American healthcare.

All this while, we were beyond shaken. We just couldn't stop thinking how lucky we were that our son was alive at all. When we got home, we had all his prescriptions filled--an antibiotic, and inhaler, etc. As I collapsed from physical and emotional exhaustion, my husband cooked lobster tails with garlic butter and bourbon salmon as a celebratory feast. "We still have a son...we still have a son," we kept saying.

Two days removed...he still has a hard time breathing at times, and we have to give him an inhaler, but he still runs around the couch and into my arms just as animatedly as before.

And on a lighter note, I finally decided to take down my Christmas tree today. ( : No time like the present.

0 Things not left unsaid: