I got to hear those words yesterday, for the first time in relation to one of my kiddos. And even though I didn't really feel like I needed to be calling 911, and even though all three kiddos were running around playing just fine, my hands and my voice were still trembling as I told the dispatcher that one of my 14-month-olds was having breathing difficulties.
Anthony, of course, thought it was all very exciting as he could hear the fire engine's sirens coming from a distance, knowing it was OUR house they were coming to. He was a bit perplexed, though, when he heard me hang up from talking with the advice nurse, and I said I was going to call 911 - he said, "But 911 is for an emergency, do we have an emergency?" Smart boy.
Makayla's been sick for....well, like, forever...or at least since November! Months, for sure. She'll start to get over a cold and before it's ever gone, she's got another one. At any rate, a week ago Monday, she had become increasingly sick, with a high fever that just wouldn't come down, even with tylenol and motrin, and she was wheezing. Darrell took her to urgent care, and she was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and an ear infection. They put her on antibiotics and albuterol breathing treatments. She had gotten better, other than her runny nose (which never seems to go away), and I hadn't had to give her a breathing treatment in several days.
Then yesterday afternoon, she just wasn't acting like herself. She refused to nap, even though she was tired and kept saying, "Night night!", which in Makayla-speak means, "Put me to bed!" After a couple hours of trying to get her nap, I let her get up, and she was just irritable and fussy. Around 5:00, she spit up, which she normally only does if she's eaten/drank milk, and I know for sure she hadn't yesterday. Immediately after that, I noticed that her breathing sounded funny - not really wheezing, but a raspy, awful sound every time she inhaled...stridor. She looked fine, but she sounded awful.
I gave her a breathing treatment, which didn't help at all. While I was sitting there debating what to do, my friend who's a nurse called, and she could hear it over the phone, and said maybe she'd swallowed something that was in her airway. A short time later, it started getting louder, so I called the nurse-advice line at Kaiser. Note - at no point did she ever appear to be in distress. Through all of this, she was talking, playing, running around, acting completely fine. She wasn't having retractions or anything...she did spit up a few more times, and she sounded bad, but she otherwise acted fine. Anyway, the nurse at Kaiser asked me a couple dozen questions, listened to her breathing over the phone a few times, and told me to hang up and call 911 because she was having labored breathing.
Seriously?? I debated. What was I going to do with my other 2 kids? Did she REALLY need paramedics?? Couldn't I just drive her to Urgent Care myself? On the other hand - what if I started driving her, and she got worse in the car on the freeway, and then we're stuck on the side of the road waiting for paramedics? So I called my friend Allison, who lives nearby, and asked how quickly she could get here, and then I called 911.
I do think the firefighters kind of looked at me like I had 3 heads when they walked in and saw Makayla walking around acting perfectly fine and I told them SHE was the one I called about. Of course, by this time, she was starting to sound a little better, and she clearly was NOT in respiratory distress - which is what I told the nurse on the phone. The firefighter listened to her breathing with his stethoscope and said her lungs did have a lot of junk in them, but her oxygen saturation was 100%, and he made it abundantly clear that he did not feel she needed to go to the hospital and certainly didn't need to be transported by ambulance.
Allison and her husband stayed with Anthony and Mackenzie while I took Makayla to Urgent Care. After sitting there for 3 hours waiting, she sounded MUCH better. The doctor agrees it was stridor, and could still hear some stuff going on, but didn't feel she needed any further treatment. He thinks she may have aspirated (choked on/breathed in) some spit up, causing the stridor. All of her spitting up and coughing probably took care of it, which is why she started sounding better on her own. He did say we need to keep an eye out for fever or any other signs of pneumonia, which is a risk from aspiration. He also thinks she has some ongoing reflux that may need to be looked at and treated (she was previously on reflux meds, but has been off them since she was 9 months old).
She did fine during the night, and other than her normal runny nose, seems to be fine today. Let's home this was a one-time occurrence and we have no repeat performances!! And a BIG thanks again to Allison and Bryan for coming to the rescue!! They even beat the fire engine getting here!