When there was an emergency...


When we dropped Thea off at my mom’s house that November day and left for our day trip, she seemed fine.  She was excited to spend the day with her Nana and kissed us goodbye as we left with no complaint.  Tyson and I enjoyed our day in LA and as the evening approached, we said good bye to our friends and prepared to make the drive home.  As we walked toward our car, my phone rang suddenly.  My mom was on the other line letting me know that Thea had been acting strange and tired for the past couple of hours and that she had just thrown up.  My heart dropped as I told my mom that she should take Thea to the hospital.  Thea can’t fast and throwing up means she hasn’t got any food in her stomach to help her cope with any stress her body is under.    

Thea and her Nana

We quickly paid our parking fee and pulled out onto the freeway.  We were only an hour away, but this was LA on a Friday and our car was inching along the freeway at 5 miles per hour.  I could hear the panic in my mom’s voice as she responded to my instructions- go to the nearest emergency room, take our emergency letter, and ask them to check her heart, blood sugar and monitor CK levels.  To top it off, Tyson and I both realized that our cell phones were about to die, mine because it was old and the battery life was short, and his because he’d been using the GPS to find our way through LA.  My mom wouldn’t be able to talk to us.  I whispered my last instructions to her as my phone went blank. 
Tyson and I, both trying to stay calm and both silently urging the unmoving traffic to move, looked at each other.  How could this happen?  As I scanned the area, I noticed a T-Mobile store off of the next exit.  We pulled off and Tyson drove up to the store as I jumped out.  The store was packed full of customers, but I cut to the front of the line.  I held up my phone and begged, “Please can you find me a car charger for this phone right now!”  I don’t know what he saw in my face, but my desperation must have shown because he gave me the charger, took my credit card, and no one complained about me taking their spot in line.  Tyson had been circling the parking lot, and I jumped back into the car and plugged my phone in. 
I dialed up my mom who had reached the emergency room only to report that the lady at the front desk would not even look at our emergency letter.  My mom was stuck in the emergency room.  Thea was limp and sleeping in her arms even though her bedtime was hours away.  My mom tried three more times to get the front desk lady to let Thea in, but the lady refused.  My mom sounded near tears.  I didn’t know who to call for help.  This wasn’t our usual hospital.  All of our regular doctors were in San Diego, still almost an hour away from where they were now. 
Hours passed by, and when she finally got in, my mom passed the phone over to the nurse.  Tyson spoke to him in a calm, firm tone.  “I know you guys are taking this very seriously and I really appreciate that,” Tyson said, even though up to this point they really weren’t.  “This disease can cause permanent brain damage, so I am anxious to get her some care.”  He asked for blood work, a heart monitor, and a CK level check.  The nurse seemed to be responding and asking questions as Tyson filled him in on Thea’s history.
Shortly after that, we arrived at the hospital.  The doctor was monitoring Thea carefully at that point, and she recommended Thea be transported by ambulance to her regular children’s hospital.  The doctors there found that Thea had a virus.  She was also very constipated, so they gave us some medicine to relieve her constipation.  With the introduction of fluids, her health began to improve, and we were released to go home.

Eating again!

I asked my doctor later what we should have done so that we could have gotten into the hospital sooner.  He recommended that we complain about the person in the front, and he said to call 911 right from the emergency room if you have to.  He also gave be a better number to call him if I needed to.  We learned to carry cell phone chargers at all times, and that we really can’t travel too far from Thea because we need to be able to get to her within a shorter amount of time.  We now monitor her bowl movements and we have her heart rate constantly monitored through a LINQ monitor.  We continue to keep her emergency letter with us at all times and have several phone chargers ready. 
This week, I was eating lunch in the teacher’s lounge when the teacher next to me suddenly nudged me in the arm.  I turned to look at her and it was immediately obvious that she was choking.  I jumped out of my seat and grabbed her around the waist, desperately trying to remember the hand positions for the Heimlich Maneuver.  I began to thrust my fists in the upward movement pumping her diaphragm with my trembling hands but after a minute I knew it wasn’t working.  At that moment, she pushed me away, and I shouted for someone else to try.  Another teacher took my place, and I yelled for a third to run and get the school nurse.  That teacher ran toward the school office, but before she returned with help, the teacher was breathing and coughing.  The second teacher had managed to make some progress and it had all ended. 
I felt guilty for the next couple of days.  I was disappointed in myself for not being able to help the teacher when she desperately needed it.  My husband and mother pointed out that I had helped her by drawing everyone’s attention to the situation and making the attempt to help the woman.  But hadn’t I just put her in more danger, I thought to myself, by wasting the minute that I attempted to perform the Heimlich Maneuver and not done a strong enough pull?  My mom pointed out that I had the wisdom to know that it wasn’t working and to ask for someone to take over.  She told me that I was being too hard on myself. 
I think after all of this I’ve learned that emergencies come up suddenly, with no warning, and they are tough.  It is hard to think clearly when you are under so much pressure.  Each emergency that I’ve been through has helped me to be a little more prepared for the next one.  However, there is only so much you can do to prepare and after that, you have to do the best you can.  You have to rely on your gut and instinct.   You have to be able to ask for help when you need it and you need to ask for help in a way that gets quick results.  Afterwards, you have to forgive yourself for what you could and couldn’t do in that moment.  And instead of dwelling on your own guilt, about what you could have done better, you let that gratitude in.  Everyone is safe and we made it through, and we are a little wiser, a little stronger, and a little bit more ready for the next of life’s challenges. 

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