March 22, 2011


Some things, you can’t prepare for.  No matter how hard you try.  No matter how much you think you’re ready.  You’re not. 

When Quint woke us up Saturday night – it was a scream.  From his room.  A panicked scream.  And he called for his Daddy.  And when I think about the way it sounded now, it makes me shudder. 

In our sleepy state, we assumed he was having a bad dream.  But there was something different…something wrong about it.

And when Anton got to Quint – when the door to his room was opened and I could hear from my bed the sounds he was making – my mind jumped alert and I raced out of the bed hearing myself say loudly and too frantically “Honey!?  What’s wrong?! What is it?!”  Knowing there was an urgency deep down.  Knowing somehow that something with my son was not right.

He was struggling to breathe.  And oh, the sounds he was making.  Friends, I would not wish it on anyone.  It was horrifying.  His throat sounds as if it was closing off.  Worse and worse as the seconds and minutes ticked by.  He was gasping for air.  Trying to cry and not able to – not really.  Trying to speak, and not able to .  And the reality and panic of it had woken him up and created a whirlwind of anxious decision making. 

I wracked my mind – my heart beating rapidly and my adrenaline propelling me into frantic pacing and crying.  No, I was not calm.  I was hysterical.  My three year old son was gasping for air and I could not think.  All I could say was “what did he eat?”  and “what did we do?” and then “please, God – no…don’t let this be happening…please!  What do I do!?  Help us!?” 

We called 911 and what seemed like 30-minutes was truly only about four,  before they were at our door and racing in to help our boy.  When he saw them – he knew it was bad.  That is to say – our three year old knew it was far worse than even he – in his limited understanding – could grasp.  He tried to cry – but was struggling so much to breath, he couldn’t do his normal volume any justice at all.  Only tears – slipping down his face and some panicked eye darting and hand flailing. 

They gave him oxygen.  That seemed to calm him down.  But just a bit.  Soon there were six of them – Fire Department, Medics, God bless them.  Truly.  Each one gentle.  Each one kind, considerate. 

It was evident to all that Quint’s airway had shut significantly – but whether it would continue to close remained to be seen and he needed treatment fast.

He was taken via ambulance to our local Children’s Hospital – again, God bless them for being there.  I’m so grateful we have such a wonderful hospital so close by. 

After examination, he was diagnosed.  Croup.  He was given oxygen, steroids to decrease the swelling in his airway, and an additional liquid medicine to help with the irritation in his throat. 

For those mothers reading this that have experienced Croup – you can attest to how scary it is.  But for those who haven’t, and maybe like me thought of Croup as some strange loud cough…and nothing more?  I will tell you what the nurse told us:  “Croup is the one thing parents never seem to have any idea about…and it’s the scariest thing they’ve never thought of”.

I can echo that.  It truly is the scariest thing I never, ever gave a thought to. 

It’s a virus.  It’s like the Flu.  But it’s based in the throat.  Near the vocal chords. Hence the “barking” cough.  But friends? There is an element to Croup that I was not aware of – and it’s terrifying.  It’s called “stridor”.  And that is where the vocal chords become so inflamed, they swell and cause the airway to close.  As in potentially all the way.

And we are so GRATEFUL that Quint was old enough to call for his Daddy.  That he was present enough to know to scream out as best he could, when he realized something was terribly wrong.  I shudder to think what might have happened had he not done those things.  I can’t even go there.

Children are prone to it – because their vocal chords and throats are much smaller than adults. 

And it’s just as contagious as a cold, we were told.

There is nothing they can do for it – it’s a virus. 

I have never felt so helpless in my life.

Needless to say, we are home and recovering and still reeling, in a way, from our way-too-close-call.  There is nothing worse than a sick child.

Or seeing your child gasping for air…

If your child has a barking cough, consider putting them in your room for the night so you can monitor their breathing.  Quint had a slight barking cough (think seal) for most of the day – but we didn’t think anything of it – because he also has allergies like every human being living in Texas this time of year.  They might have rolling fevers or runny nose.  They might have decreased appetite.  Much like the flu!  Take whatever precautions you need to, to keep your babies safe.  You might not be able to prevent it, but you can be prepared if it does happen.  If your child wakes up struggling to breath, open your freezer and let them stick their face in and breathe the cold.  It can relax the throat and decrease swelling.  Call 911 – don’t try to drive your child to the hospital.  You can’t make a decision to pull over or keep driving should the situation deteriorate.  Most of all – try to stay calm.  I was so upset, I think I made Quint panic more than he already was.  And panic, it turns out?  Makes the vocal chords swell.  Yes.  Yes it does.  I’ve got to work on that.

We are thanking God for His mercy and grace – and I’m asking all of you with small children – be aware of Croup!  We were totally ignorant of it. 

Waiting for his medicine to work
Relaxing ~ now that he can breath again
After 2:30 AM and completely wiped out from his ordeal
The next morning ~ recovering in Mom and Dad's bed.  Still wearing all the medical monitor pads on his arms and legs.