Another check box marked off the list – first major asthma attack. Thankfully, it happened while already in the car on the way to the doctor, but it made it all the more frightening. How the heck do you comfort a terrified child while driving?!
It started this morning around 4 a.m. Wes woke up with typical asthma-like symptoms that we usually see when he’s fighting allergies or a cold. We did a neb treatment and both went back to bed. When he woke up again around 7:30, he was worse. I gave him some Zyrtek and tried another treatment, thinking that would hold him over until we arrived at my parents’ lakehouse, where we had planned to spend Good Friday with family for Easter fun.
He didn’t respond well to the treatment and complained, “breathing, breathing, Mama” while I was trying to get things packed and out the door. I told him to wait until I was finished showering and then we could figure out what to do to make him more comfortable. (My original thoughts were to just do another treatment, but I really don’t like to squeeze in more than one within a 2-hour period of time.) Honestly, I didn’t think he was nearly as bad as he was at that time. I figured he’d eventually clear up.
We got into the car, and I saw just how much his chest was heaving. He didn’t act much different, but I could tell he didn’t feel that great. I kept telling myself that we’d just do another treatment as soon as we got to the lake (about an hour’s drive), and he’d be ok. But after I backed out of the neighborhood and onto the road, I saw just how uncomfortable he was. He squirmed and grunted, and I knew it was getting bad, fast. I called Steven and my parents, told them I’d be calling the doctor based on his asthmatic symptoms and would give an update later. Next, I pull over, called the doctor, and told them he 1) hadn’t responded well to his treatment earlier and was now 2) starting to complain about it. They said they’d see me around 10, but I told them I was already in the car and could just go now. They agreed and said they’d fit us in.
I felt better already. At this point, it was just a precautionary “mom-thing.” I redirected to the pediatrician. Wes was starting to get really agitated in the backseat, and I turned around to say, “It’s alright, honey; we’re going to see the doctor to help you breathe.” In the next 30 seconds, my heart raced to unprecedented speeds. He wrinkled his face, started turning blue, choked and then vomited mucus all over himself and carseat. Wailing, shrieking and terror spread all over his face. He couldn’t catch his breath. “MAMA!” (Help.)
This all happened while I was driving. I said silent prayers to let us make it another 5 miles to the pediatrician’s office. I held on to the steering wheel with one hand and grabbed his sweaty palm in my other. I tried with all my might not to show the fear that was overtaking me. The thing that gave me hope was the fact that he was ABLE to wail – so therefore, he could at least breathe somewhat.
The wait in the ped’s office seemed like forever. Wes was terrified and couldn’t calm down; screaming, crying, flailing uncontrollably. The poor people around us probably thought he was demented or I was a horrible mother. Somehow managed to prepay our copay, wait for 10 minutes AND then take his weight before sitting in the patient room for another few minutes of inconsolable crying. The nurse (we love her), hurried through the oxygen level-taking process and quickly got the neb treatment going.
Almost instantly, Wes calmed down. It’s like he finally believed me that I was trying to help him. For the previous 45 minutes, he used up all his strength to not only breathe, but also to demonstrate his very real fright. He closed his eyes and took deep breaths from the nebulizer mask. Still short, choppy breaths, but as deep as he could manage. Fell asleep.
It’s at this moment that I thought of Mary, mother of Jesus, on Good Friday. Surely she felt the same hopelessness when she watched her son suffer on the cross at Calvary. She couldn’t open up his lungs, patch his wounds or dry his tears. Surely her heart broke into a million pieces as she heard him cry out and sigh. But unlike Mary, I was able to hold and comfort my son. I was able to see improvement. I nearly lost it in that patient’s room, but I knew he would be okay. We were surrounded by people who would help my son.
What a horrible, tragic day Good Friday is. Our world lost a Savior, a Promised One. Thankfully, we know it’s not the end of the story, but the folks in that present time did not know or expect the glorious rising to come a few days later. This morning, my heart ached not only for Wesley, but for Mary, too, as she mourned the worldly death of her son Jesus.
During one of the neb treatments, Wes opened his eyes, looked right into mine, and said, “That was scary, Mama.” “Oh, I know, honey. I was scared, too, but you’re okay now. You’re getting better.” “Yeah. Thank you, Mama.” Eyes closed again. He relaxed.
Four rounds of neb treatments later, Wes’ pediatrician finally released us. It took over an hour to get him stabilized, and we now have an actual diagnosis of asthma to deal with. More steroids, too. We’ve already gotten lots of use out of our home nebulizer, but it’s now going to be a daily staple and part of our morning routine.
We did go to the lakehouse afterwards, which is another blog post for another time, and ended up completing a similar set of back-to-back neb treatments there before coming home, and did it yet again before bedtime. He’s still wheezing and not fully inhaling, but we’re getting somewhere. The poor kid. He’s handling it like a Champ, and I know his body is working hard to do something we all take for granted. I’m a proud mother, and I’m a thankful mother. He’s going to be alright.