Thomas is a lazy slug who sleeps in late. Every morning that Ruthie has preschool, I have to wake him up in order for us all to leave in time. Usually I send Ruthie upstairs to tickle his ear – a sweet wake-up tradition I created after she burst into his room one morning, flicked on the overhead light, and shouted, “THOMAS! WAKE UP!” He was not happy about such a jolt, so now she whispers sweetly to him while tickling his ear.
I was sitting at the dining room table with my coffee and laptop, in the dark, waiting for Ruthie to accomplish her ear-tickling mission. Suddenly I heard gasping, choking sounds coming from Thomas and leaped up to find him half way down the stairs with a panicked look on his face (later I found my reading glass on the floor under the piano, where they landed as I threw them off). He was trying really hard to take a breath, but he couldn’t get enough air.
I could tell right away that he wasn’t choking on an object, but sounded sick, like he was having another respiratory attack of some kind. Even though I’d taken him to the emergency room last year for breathing difficulty, this time I was freaked out because he seemed to be actually choking for air.
I immediately called 911 and ran upstairs to get his nebulizer for an Albuterol treatment, but it had been a whole year since I used it and I couldn’t remember how all the pieces fit together. Just as the ambulance pulled up in front of the house, Thomas hacked up a giant ball of mucus – probably about 2-3 tablespoons in size – and then he quit gasping.
The medics stuck around for awhile to observe his breathing, and waited for me to get the nebulizer set up. Thomas was still laboring for breath, but his oxygen intake was at 99%, and after listening to his lungs the medic determined they were clear of any fluids – it was his upper airways that were congested, which is typical for a chest cold.
Later at the pediatrician he was diagnosed with the croup, which my kids get every year. I recognized the ‘barking seal’ cough when he woke up, but had never noticed any mucus during previous croup episodes. What obviously happened was that Thomas’ trachea and larynx were so inflamed with the croup that the giant ball of mucus couldn’t make it’s way out, causing his airways to become constricted.
It was a scary morning, but we all came out of it okay. Ruthie, once again, was a trooper under pressure. She was the adorable and chearful girl, standing on the front porch holding the door open for the medics, chatting with them as they came into the house. I kept hearing her say things like, “My name is Ruthie,” and “My mom’s in the kitchen,” and “Today is pajama day at preschool!”
Thomas, on the other hand, was not as cooperative. He hid under the kitchen table whenever I tried to give him a nebulizer treatment, and wouldn’t even look at the medics despite the fact that they were very toddler-friendly medics. I finally coaxed him out by asking if he thought Buzz Lightyear would like to wear a clip on his finger (the thingy that measures oxygen levels), and wouldn’t he like to wear a clip on his finger like Buzz Lightyear? God bless Pixar, because that boy crawled over to my lap and held up his cute little index finger. Go Buzz!
So that was how our Friday started, and now the Zugs are quarantined to the Zughaus for the duration of the weekend until this virus passes. Oh, and I have a kidney infection, but that’s a story for another post. Hope your weekend is healthier than ours!