Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Holy Croup

Last night I wrote that "Benjamin is still rather croupy."

Let's change that to read, "Benjamin is moderately-to-severely croupy."

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to the strangest sound. In my dream, the sound meant that a litter of kittens had been dropped off on our doorstep. The sound brought me out of my dream, however, and continued after I'd opened my eyes. The sound was real. The sound was in my house.

I got up to check on the kids and discovered the source of the noise in Benjamin's room. It was Benjamin, of course. He was crying and wheezing, trying to fill his little lungs with air. I picked him up and he went limp in my arms (which is the most horrible feeling) but continued to wheeze in and out—short, raspy gasps of air rattling his tiny frame.

I ran back to our bedroom and flicked on the light.

"Andrew, get up!" I cried with a note of panic in my voice that would have alerted the dead (which is just the tone you need in your voice to wake Andrew up).

He woke up and stared at my panic-stricken face. He stared at Benjamin's terrified round eyes. He jumped out of bed and dove into action.

We called the nurse hotline because, while I've seen croup before this was different. The nurse calmed us down, listened to Benjamin's breathing, and then sent Andrew to the bathroom to sit with Benjamin by the steamy shower while I continued to talk to her. After awhile she asked if the steam was making any difference and since it didn't seem to be, she suggested we go in to the emergency room.

I know that I'm overly anxious about Benjamin's health, but I don't particularly enjoy going to the emergency room. But I also don't particularly enjoy watching my child struggle for air. And I'm overly anxious about this boy's ability to maintain adequate blood oxygen saturation levels.

Yes, still. Even though he's been fine for so long now (aside from when he's sick and needs his albuterol because he really isn't that great at breathing all the time (but albuterol doesn't exactly help with croup)).

The nurse asked us to find a babysitter for our girls so that we could come in together (with one driving and the other sitting with Benjamin to monitor his breathing) so I called our sweet neighbour across the street (the one who'd had the girls over last night) and she came over—at 5 o'clock in the morning—to sit with the girls (and got Rachel up and ready for school and out to the bus, and then took Miriam over to her house).

We were admitted quickly into the ER, and though I kept apologizing for being there, everyone assured me that we were in the right place (since neither the shower nor the cold air really helped him catch his breath).

The doctor asked, "Is this the little one I heard coughing in the hallway?" And when Benjamin coughed he said, "This is the little one I heard coughing in the hallway!"

He prescribed an oral steroid and a nebulized racemic epinephrine (basically an inhaled epi-pen), which worked like magic to relax his tight little airways. The doctor said that on little guys like Benjamin, croup can feel like trying to breathe through a coffee stirrer. He didn't think Benjamin was quite that bad, but he was obviously struggling.

The steroid should last in his system for 72 hours, which the doctor said should hopefully get him "over the hump." The epinephrine works immediately but the effect doesn't last long so we had to wait around for a couple of hours after his breathing treatment finished to see if he would relapse. We were lucky, though, and the steroid must've taken effect because he was just fine so instead of doing another round of epinephrine and then waiting around for a couple hours longer we just got to go home!

We've spent the rest of the day sleeping, showering, and taking trips out into the cold (oh, and watching far too much television). Benjamin's still pretty raspy but he's breathing much easier now.

By far the funniest line we heard at the ER was when a new doctor walked in (we got there right before shift change), looked at Benjamin, looked at Andrew, then said, "Well, you sure parked your genes well! That's a strong family resemblance!"


  1. Aw, I hope little Benjamin is on the mend very soon! How scary. But I'm glad you had a nice nurse, helpful neighbor, and good (I hope) doctor to help out.

  2. I like the drs comment about hearing Benjamin cough. When I worked Peds ER we could totally hear the little croupy kids in the waiting room and we would just get everything set up. I'm glad he is feeling better as it is kind of scary to watch little kids gasping for air.

  3. Yikes!! So glad he is breathing better!!