Tuesday, March 17, 2015

When she almost died

Today marks the day that Abi almost died three years ago. (It was a tough year and a busy year; I didn't blog in 2012)  I have been approaching the day with some hesitation and with emotions, but today I think I have more peace. Today is just a day. It doesn't really mean anything and I don't have to spend it in sorrow or fear. But it has been a slow process to get to that way of thinking.  It takes a bit of time to recover from a traumatic experience.

Three years ago, Abi had already been struggling with her asthma for a week, which had sent us to the hospital emergency room. I remember trying all of our at-home treatments of inhalers and nebulizers, and after no change I packed her up at 4am and we drove across town. I even went through red lights! (well, I stopped at them first, checked to make sure the intersections were empty, and then continued on. I hoped that we wouldn't get any tickets in the mail from the red-light cameras!) There, Abi was given more medication and oxygen and was put on steroids for a week.

 {she didn't like the nose prongs, but she did get a horse out of the deal from the hospital. what girl doesn't like a horse?}

I remember my Mom warning me to watch Abi when she finished the medication, as it was strong and sometimes coming off of them causes another attack.

Despite that warning, I was still not expecting what happened next.

It was exactly a week later. Abi had been dealing with asthma all through the night, so I was up often with her to give her the inhalers and to watch her, so when she was calling for me and crying at 7am, I was so exhausted. I admit, with shame, that I was frustrated with her as well. I begrudgingly got up and went to see her but could tell that she really wasn't doing well. I knew that she needed more than her inhalers. However, the nebulizer medication was in the bathroom, where my Hunny was having a shower; he wasn't too happy that I was interrupting his morning wake-up shower. That is, until he saw Abi also. She was breathing so hard that as soon as she finished her treatment of the pulmicort, I immediately started another nebule in the machine and then gathered up what we needed for another trip to the ER. (such as her medical card and medications,  as well as getting myself dressed.)

When we were putting on our shoes downstairs at the front door it occurred to me that it was Saturday at seven thirty in the morning. Traffic would be crazy in Langley! I couldn't just speed through the streets and go through red lights anymore!  So back upstairs we went so I could call for an ambulance. That's when she she threw up on the stairs (due to a hyper-anxious system....yes, that's my own medical terminology! Apparently that's not too uncommon during an asthma attack.) That's also when she started to hyperventilate. I was starting to get frustrated with her, and to be honest, I wanted to slap her across the face to jolt her out of it, but I didn't. I grabbed her shoulders and urged her to calm down and breathe slower. Not that it helped.

She was in her room and her father was watching over her, telling her to slow down her breathing. I was in the living room, calling 9-1-1, and checking on the boys (who were 3, 5 and 8yrs old. Eden was just 9 months old and sleeping in my bed still) as they played with Lego.  Looking back, I see how I did the opposite of what we are told to do when calling for an ambulance: do not leave the injured/sick person. But I did. I had to keep walking. I had to keep checking on the boys. I had to see if the ambulance had arrived. I had to unlock the front door and make sure they could find the house. But most of all, I couldn't be in the same room as her as she was screaming and I couldn't hear the guy on the phone and didn't want him to hear her.

Having your daughter scream, "I'm going to die!" is tough to listen to.

When I did look in on her, her lips were blue and her cheeks were getting blue as well. I related this to the guy on the phone, but just then the ambulance arrived. Or rather, the firemen arrived. They really do arrive first. But the one ambulance was right behind them. I led them to the room, where Abi was now laying on the floor since she passed out. (that's when I realized just how messy her room was and I felt embarrassed that I didn't spend a few moments to clean it up. Yeah, I was thinking weird thoughts like that.) I had to talk to one of the firemen and give him all of the details and her medical information for his forms, so I didn't see what was happening in the room. A part of me didn't want to though. I wanted to be out of their way and let them do their stuff.  But when I walked past the room, I did peek in and hear one paramedic tell the other one that "she wasn't breathing, but her heart was still beating." I didn't want to hear any more.

It all happened in slow motion, yet felt chaotic, but I'm sure it was fast. I didn't even look at the clock. I have heard that typical time frames between the first call to when the ambulance arrives is approximately five minutes, but it sure felt longer. (I forgot to ask the dispatcher for an ETA, although I remember learning that you could ask. It didn't seem relevent at the time. Oddly.) They sent over a regular ambulance and an Advanced Life Support ambulance, just in case; the dispatcher wanted me to know so that I didn't get too worried. I was completely fine with whatever they brought as long as it helped Abi!

Abi was still unconscious when they got her onto a stretcher and carried her carefully down the stairs to the one ambulance (not the Advanced Life Support one, although they debated on which one to take for a bit.) and they were bag breathing her. But she was breathing on her own by then. Thankfully.  They had to insert a tube down her throat while in her room since her airways were so closed up. The problem is that they didn't actually have a youth's size of tube, just infant and adult! The good news is that my Hunny had taken his Level 3 First Aid course (next level up is paramedic, I think) and so he had a youth sized tube in his bag, which he gave to them. (still packaged and sterilized) 

Abi finally started to wake up while we were in the ambulance, but we didn't leave for a few more minutes. Apparently they were talking with my husband (while I sat in the front of the ambulance) and deciding which hospital to go to. We live conveniently in the middle of three different hospitals (Surrey Memorial, Langley Memorial and Peace Arch in White Rock) and on a direct route to another (Royal Columbian in New Westminster, since the freeway is close to us and a quick way to get there) so they were figuring out which would be the best. We usually go to LMH, since it is smaller and therefore not as busy. (I've been there so often now that I feel comfortable there) but it was decided to head to SMH since they have a big pediatrics ward, which I didn't know about.

It took Abi a good three hours to recover enough that she could speak again. Her lungs were so sore and she rested a lot. But she was breathing on her own and that was a big step up from that morning!

 {I posted this pic to FB so that our friends who were praying all over the world for her would see that she was alert and doing better.}

We stayed overnight (I wished I had thought to pack clothes or worn a nicer top, but dressing for an emergency means grabbing whatever you have nearby) and met with the pediatrician (Dr A J Singh, a wonderful wonderful man! I love him for what he has done for Abi but he is so terribly busy, it is crazy to get in to see him. He works out of SMH as well as Children's Hospital and has his own clinic on the weekend!) We even had the kids come over and visit us! That was good for them since the last they saw Abi, the house was full of paramedics and firemen and she was taken out of the house on a stretcher. (Kai looked so worried. His expression made me sad. The others didn't say much. When the paramedics were outside at the ambulance, we all sat together and prayed over her and thanked the Lord for his protection.)

It was through the grace of God that Abi was healed and not only that, declared well enough to go home the night after her attack! We were back in our own house by 8pm on the 18th-- 36 hours since the ordeal began. What a miracle! I was expecting to be there for a few days while she recovered and, I don't know, while they did some investigating or intervention or instruction of some sort for her asthma. But we came home with some inahlers and some tips and a follow up appointment.

My sweet girl. Aged 10. Still smiling.

She doesn't remember much of what happened. She didn't remember screaming or throwing up or fighting us with the nebulizer and mask (she kept pushing it away from her face and yelled as we willed that ambulance to come faster), and she didn't remember passing out! A good fifteen minutes missing. But I think that's a good thing. She bounced back pretty good. We told her a few pieces of info on what happened, but we also didn't want her too scared or growing a fear of a repeat. But there are a few parts that even I don't know about, parts that my Hunny witnessed that I didn't, and parts that he doesn't want to talk about, so they will remain a mystery to me. And at first I felt I needed to know it all, but now I am okay with just holding on to what I remember.

We joked that when they all returned to school, she could say to her classmates, "what, you went to Hawaii for Spring Break? Yeah, I almost died!"

The hardest thing about seeing your child almost die in front of you is that fear. It takes a hold of you and it clings to you, and you begin to doubt and you start to worry. It became a fight with myself to NOT let it take control, and I have to admit that it's been a tough journey. How do you live without the fear? I was wrestling with the knowledge that this could happen again and I couldn't stop it. And I really struggled with the thought of God's protection on her, but also us being a part of a Bigger Plan and also having to live in a flawed world.  

Yes, He definitely could keep her from harm, and He could pull her back from danger. And He does it every day for us. But I had to be OK with knowing that He may not always. And how do you do that? I didn't know how to give up my daughter and say to God, 'it's okay, you can take her if you want to!" because I was NOT okay with it!  And I felt so foolish to be feeling that way! I know that I can't hold tight to my kids. I know that there is nothing in my power that can keep them from harm. And I also knew that God's way is the best way. It says that in Romans  8:28 that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." And I love Him. But how could I ever find that idea of Him letting my girl die to be a "good thing"?

And I wrestled with that.

It's been three years, and I can't say that I have fully grasped it yet. I like to think that I can say to the Lord, 'yes, these are your children, and I trust you."  I know that I can be honest though as well. So I will often cry out and admit that I have a hard time letting them go, and that I fear for them and that I don't want to have to give them up. But I think that's normal! What kind of mom would I be if I just willingly handed them over without any fear or emotion? I think the key is pushing past that fear and letting God be who He is. And He is good.

And I know that.


KnottedFingers said...

So much love and I'm glad she's ok and here with you now!

FieryCanuck77 said...

I agree, @KnottedFingers! Thanks for your comment. I had totally forgotten that you blogged!

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