Narrowly Escaping the ER

We narrowly escaped an ER visit this week. It feels like a huge accomplishment. Like someone should slap us on the back and say, “Well done special needs parent. You didn’t freak out at the first sign of distress this time.”

Early this week Nathan came down with a runny nose. He never had a fever even though he felt slightly febrile one day at karate class. I didn’t have a thermometer on me but when we got home he was fine. Later in the evening, he was struggling to breathe at bedtime. This is his worst time, as is with many sick kids. But his was a deep stridor and he was taking a long pause in between breaths.

my husband and I exchanged “the look.” The here-we-go-again look. The this sucks-I-hate-going-down-to-that-germy-ER look. Then we asked the same questions: Why does this always happen at night? Why does this kid have to suffer? You know, same kid, same ER story.

my husband had a couple of tricks up his sleeve however. First he gave him a nebulizer breathing treatment with straight saline water. That loosened things up. Then he suctioned him and actually got out a lot of gunk. That rarely happens.

Then I did the standard mom thing of turning on the humidifier and slathering Vicks on the bottoms of his feet and chest. It was my minor mom contribution. Not much, but something.

my husband texted some friends to pray and then we went straight to bed with the monitor turned way up, fully expecting to be woken by a croupy kid.

My alarm went off at 5:30 am and it wasn’t Nathan.

Awesome, right!? We thought so. We’re not really the ones who need a pat on the back as much as God who again graciously granted Nathan the ability to breathe through the night.

Things got bad again Thursday though. Not to sound completely crazy, but I do think Nathan’s poor bowel and bladder function complicates separate issues like a little cold. Even though things are happening at opposite ends of his body I do think there’s a connection. The kid hadn’t pooped in four days, which is fairly common for him. However, the on and off screaming fits told me he was having a harder time than usual. So this afternoon after he had “the world’s biggest poop” (Mac’s words, not mine) I thought he would improve. The stridor got even worse however. It sounded like this:

Scary huh?

So again same question, do I take him to the ER? We opted for the pediatrician since it was during the day. Our regular doctor wasn’t in so I had to brief a new doctor on Nathan. (I laughed a little inside when I saw her walk in the exam room with his three-inch thick file.) She diagnosed him as having croup and prescribed a steroid treatment to help open up his airway a bit. I think it was a valid diagnosis.

In the meantime my husband ran into a couple of Nathan’s specialists at the hospital. He showed them the video. Collectively we are all thinking this is what happens: when Nathan bears down to move stool, he refluxes up his food, which he proceeds to aspirate on, and then it flares up his laryngospasms, causing the stridor, which makes it hard to breathe. Did you follow that? It’s okay if you didn’t. The main takeaway is I’m not a crazy mom, y’all! The constipation totally wreaks havoc on this little guy.

Now we have an enema program in place for the next two weeks until we follow-up with GI. I can’t say after the mess that I had to clean up involving “the world’s biggest poop,” three loads of laundry, a bath for Nathan, a shower for me, and Mac spraying Lysol in all the rooms of the house that Nathan stunk up that I am at all looking forward to the enema program. However, I’m willing to give it a try. It can’t be any harder than what we’ve been dealing with.

It was a hard day. Too much pain for Nathan. Not enough attention for Mac. Way too much poop and self-pity for me.

The upside is he still hasn’t been to the ER yet this week. As much as I want to take total credit for not being so anxious this week, I know the credit goes to the One who is walking this road alongside us. He sees all, hears all, and bears all our burdens.

Any by the way, he is doing better today. I’ll try to post a more hopeful video later.

Praise be to the Lord, the God our Savior who daily bears our burdens.” -Psalm 68:19

My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!

Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!


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