ER exhaustion

I’ve had a good week, as far as weeks go, but a few extra stressors have me feeling worn out and confused.

My youngest little guy has croup, which if you are not familiar, is  nasty virus that attacks the throat so severely it can cause it to collapse or swell together and make it difficult, or impossible,  to breathe. You know your kiddo has croup when they wake up in the middle of the night barking like seal and gasping for air. It looks a lot like an asthma attack and can be very dangerous.

I rushed my little guy to the ER at 4am Wed night, with him gasping and belly-breathing (retractions) and unable to speak or stand. His oxygen level was 94, his BP was low, and his pulse was racing close to 160. They gave him steroids and an epi breathing treatment to reduce the swelling and open his airway.

I knew what was going on and actually felt fairly calm driving him there.

Having asthma myself, I am no stranger to waking up unable to breathe. (I remembered going to the ER as a child, with blue lips from severe asthma. They were just memories though, not flashbacks, thankfully) And this little guy had RSV as toddler, lasting many months of scary nights and breathing treatments, so he was calm too, and knew how to breathe in that mask.

The most stressful part was the actual ER. I hate the ER. I have so much respect for those nurses, doctors, paramedics, and everyone willing to be up all night and subject themselves to such a stressful atmosphere and save lives. Or try to.

I saw a man, (older maybe in his 70s)  wheeled in on a gurney, with a paramedic straddling him, going along for the ride, doing chest compressions while another ran beside squeezing the air pump thingy that looks like a blue balloon (too tired to google the name). I have seen this on TV, but never in real life in front of me, with an actual dying man, not an actor. It was terrifying.

They wheeled the man into the room next to ours, and we could hear everything going on in there, as doctors commanded nurses. I heard them try the defrib “Clear!” 4 times. I heard them giving epi and other stimulants to try to get that heart going again. I heard them discuss why he was here, and everyone seemed so confused. A man, who appeared to be 40 or so, ran in and asked if they woke up his Dad. He pushed right in and was yelling that he had to “wake up, he shot him 4 times”. More confusion. Security came quickly, though this man was not bloody and obviously not shot. Security got the son out into the hallway and they finally got the story out, he had found his dad lying on the floor and thought he had an asthma attack and so “shot” him 4 times with his epi pen while waiting for the ambulance. Meanwhile I still hear them attempting to revive the father, but hear them say, “No rhythm, no breath sounds, he was already cold when we got there, we have to call this” I heard some whispers, and then some of the worst shrieks, howls, sobs I have ever heard. They must have told the man’s son and wife that he was gone. The wife screamed at the doctors to keep trying, and then started beating on her husband’s chest, yelling, “NO, NO, Wake up, wake up” with each punch. Security removed her. Then the son started screaming and kicking the wall and telling the doctors they were “good for nothing”. Security removed him.

I sat there wide-eyed in the now silent room, taking it all in, when my little guy on his hospital cot, feeling a bit better, has caught his breath, and removed his mask to tell me something. “Mom, sounds like someone is not doing so well over there.” His eyes looked sad, not scared. My little guy understood. He held my hand a minute and I had to look away, so he didn’t see my tears – of joy – that in my room things were going very well. It didn’t hit me until that moment that I could have lost him, and how precious he is and lucky I am. My heart  said a little prayer, of thanks for us, and for sympathy to the family next door –  out of their minds with grief and loss.


We returned home about 9am, in time for me to get to work. I had a few meetings I could not rearrange, but then asked for the afternoon off to sleep. And I did. I slept many hours, slept through my dance class last night, slept through dinner, slept through the night. I am still sleepy today and a bit out of sorts.

My little guy is outside, running and playing. (Hubby is home and happily playing outside too, getting our bikes ready for the season).

I’m off to take a long bath and probably another nap, because I know I need to recover from the stress. No more saying I’m fine when I’m not. I need some time alone.



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