by Karla ° Monday, September 15, 2008
While waiting for some test results, I went outside to make a few phone calls. And standing right there, in front of a No Smoking sign and puffing away on a cigarette, was the woman who I had seen when we first arrive at the ER. The same woman who, several hours earlier, I overheard saying she was concerned she hadn’t felt her baby move.

She glanced over in my direction and as our eyes locked, mine narrowed into disapproving slits and hers, clearly recognizing my disapproval, shifted towards the ground in obvious guilt-infused avoidance. My mouth opened to say something, the rage boiling through my blood was thick, but nothing came out. Feeling slightly faint as another wave of nausea welled from deep within my stomach, I lowered my gaze and concentrated on my phone.


When I returned to the hospital room, a Pediatrician was talking to Mark about sending Nate for an X-ray. God, the thought of yet another x-ray in his already less than two-year existence made me feel sick to my stomach all over again. I know x-rays are commonly used for so many things, but geez, there’s a reason the technician gets to hide behind tombstone-thick lead walls. AND IT’S CALLED RADIATION.


Entering the x-ray lab to hold Nate’s hand through the process, the technician asked if I minded if Mark stayed with him instead. “You never know if there’s a little brother or sister in there,” she said, gesturing towards my stomach.


As the night wore on, so did our worry. The doctors didn’t quite know what was wrong. X-rays for pneumonia were inconclusive. The Respiratory Therapist mentioned something about Croup, or Bronchiolitis. One nurse wondered about allergies. Another nurse seemed concerned about asthma. But no one knew anything for certain. There was blood work. Lots of blood work. And one frighteningly long q-tip swab up the nose.

Finally, the only thing left to do was wait. Turning out the lights, I wrapped Nate in his blanket and softly caressed the tension from his forehead until he fell asleep in my arms.


Eventually, after more inconclusive test results, we were sent home with a ventolin puffer and chamber attachment. The Respiratory Therapist showed us how to use it, and told us to administer it to Nate every three hours throughout the rest of the night. “Someone will call you in the morning with a follow up appointment to see the Pedatrician at his practice,” she said. And then, more seriously, “I’m sure everything is fine, but just in case, please don’t take your son into the waiting room. There are lots of babies and newborns there.” I said I understood. “And please.” she reiterated, "If his breathing deteriorates at all tonight, bring him back right away.”


We went home, weary and spent, too tired even to notice the dinnerless hollow of our stomachs. Tearing apart the storage room, I found Nate’s baby monitor, and after setting the alarm to wake me up in an hour for his next scheduled drug-assisted opening of the airways , I set the monitor on full and began drifting between islands of uneasy sleep while trying to concentrate on every single breath being taken by a sleeping toddler down the hall.


After a restless night of weary protests from being awakened to a forced drug-filled mask in his face every couple of hours, Nate woke up gasping and tugging for breath again. Nearly forgetting to switch off an untouched pot of coffee, we rushed back to the hospital. Navigating the morning rush hour traffic, I fought back yet another wave of nausea while Mark furiously pounded the too-tiny keyboard of his BlackBerry, cancelling meetings and notifying his team that he wouldn't be in the office.

We arrived at the ER shortly before 7:00 am, and let me just say, if you’re going to pick a time to fall off a roof, or have a heart attack, just make sure you do it first thing in the morning. Because I am so not kidding, the quiet was eerie. I have never seen an Emergency Room so empty.


After another mask treatment, we were sent home with reassurance that Nate’s lungs sounded much better, and because of that, pneumonia was unlikely, but we still needed to wait for the final verdict from the Pediatrician.


For the Love of Pete, as it turns out, Nate just has a really really bad cold, which, in kids under two, is called Bronchiolitis. I know? Bronchio WHAT? That’s what I asked, too. Bronchiolitis, although sharing many of the same symptoms as asthma, is really just a bad lung infection and because of that, hospitalization can be very common.

Sometimes though, this can actually be the beginning signs of asthma, or allergies, and it's something we need to be aware of, but as of this moment, Nate's fine. He’s on antibiotics, and we’re equipped with a puffer and a special toddler-friendly chamber attachment to use if something like this ever happens again.

And after all was said and done, I am so relieved that this entire ordeal only cost our family $21 in hospital parking fees.


My baby, my son, although better now, and resting safe and sound in the comfort of his own bed, keeps telling me that he’s shad (sad), and that he wants to go home. And even though we are home, something tells me what he’s really trying to say is that he’s still haunted by the memories of the florescent tomb of bleached-white lab coats and forced oxygen masks and that he wants to go back to the way things used to be: to a time when he didn’t know so intimately how it feels to be so afraid.

Thank you, everyone, for your incredible outpouring of support. The heartfelt emails, the sincerity of your comments. It all means the world to me. I'm humbled and eternally grateful.

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Oh, thank goodness. Hope he's doing better!
Posted by Blogger Carly :  September 15, 2008

I am SO relieved to hear that Nate is on the road back to "normal".
I know that it's hard on the kids, but I tend to think that it's WAY harder on the moms *hugs*
Posted by Anonymous Karen :  September 15, 2008

That is good news Karla ~ I am so pleased that he is getting better ~ and life can have a bit more normality for you!
You have all been in my thoughts.
love and hugs XXXXXX
Posted by Blogger Tabitha :  September 15, 2008

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Posted by Blogger Tabitha :  September 15, 2008

Uff... que alivio... por favor, que Nate no se ponga malito mas veces, porque lo pasamos mal.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  September 15, 2008

I had the same experience with my daugther when she was 10 months old (her first cold). In the end her symptoms did turn out to be asthma which I hope won't be the case with Nate; however, the scariest time is always the first.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  September 15, 2008

So relieved to hear Nate's doing better. It's so scary when kids have trouble breathing. Our son had croup a few months ago and we didn't know what it was. He woke a couple of hours after going to bed for the night gasping for air and seeming like he couldn't breathe. I was terrified and called 911.

When the emergency workers arrived only minutes later they checked his oxygen levels and determined it was nothing serious, even though it sounded awful. I felt a bit silly for calling them for the croup, but they were so good...they told me that I shouldn't apologize. When it comes to the health of our kids, we should err on the side of caution.

Hope that you are able to get some rest now that Nate's doing better. Take care.

I am so happy that Nate is doing alot better. I know how worried you had to have been.

Now a comment on the pregnant lady in the ER room that was smoking..... my god, what is she thinking? Well, I am thinking of all of the health problems she will be bringing upon this poor child before he is even born. What ashame!
Posted by Anonymous Connie :  September 15, 2008

What an ordeal. I'm sorry. Glad your son is feeling better.

I am not sure what I would have done about the pregnant woman puffing up a storm. How sad.

Im glad he is o.k. Its amazing how much these kids can scare us. I cant tell you how many times ive freaked out over my kids when they are sick and im a nurse. Its just different when its your own child.
Posted by Blogger Heather :  September 15, 2008

I am so glad, Karla!

As for the smoking pregnant woman, it kills me that I can't get pregnant again, while people like her have no problem.
Posted by Blogger Gina :  September 15, 2008

I'm so sorry you and Nate had to go through that, but so glad that he is okay. What a relief.
Posted by Blogger Michelle :  September 15, 2008

Glad he's ok...and there isn't a brother or sister in "there".....right? ;)

I'm glad little Nate is doing better:)
My eldest son was admitted to hospital at 6 weeks with what Nate had ~ it's so frightening, i understand how worried you guys were.
BTW, Andrew is fine now ( he's 9 ).
He has no lasting effects of the virus ~ no asthma or allergies etc.
I hope nate will be the same.
Amanda x
Posted by Blogger Amanda :  September 15, 2008

I'm so glad he's OK, you know what's wrong, and he's going to get better.
Posted by Blogger Julia :  September 15, 2008

I'm so glad he's OK, you know what's wrong, and he's going to get better.
Posted by Blogger Julia :  September 15, 2008

Oh, I'm so glad he's OK! I've been thinking about your family nonstop since your last post.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  September 15, 2008

SO RELIEVED for you guys Karla. Thanks for the update.
Posted by Anonymous Susan :  September 15, 2008

Oh THANK GOODNESS! My tummy is still hurting from reading through this, and getting tense waiting for the worst. That's the scariest cold I've ever heard of! Cole has a cold right now, and it's pretty nasty (even had a fever last night), but I would NEVER expect all of that. For that matter, if it does happen now, I'll still go into a panic and get sick. I'm so happy Nate is alright, and you guys are, too. Poor little guy. That had to be terrifying. However, on the plus side, now you get to hear him say the word "shad" over and over again, which, although it comes from a bad place, must be the cutest thing ever!
Posted by Blogger Christi :  September 15, 2008

And don't you think that, in addition to the barrage of pamphlets for car seat safety and immunizations, someone should include a fact sheet about bronchialitis (that's not spelled correctly, sorry). i know enough people who have suffered a similar hell that, while would have included a trip to the ER and a hospital stay, might not have been so fraught with fear.
And kudos to Mr. Nate. I've had the giant Qtip down the nose and it's terrifying, as are those ventilators. At least you didtn' have to shell out for it, they run about $75 or something outrageous.
We wish you all speedy convalescing.
Posted by Blogger Mama T :  September 15, 2008

Maddie gets the same kind of shallow breathing every time she's got a cold. For a couple of years we were told "it's just a cold". Finally, last week, we were finally told that she has asthma. It wasn't good news, but at least we don't have to continue to wonder if we're overreacting to ordinary cold symptoms.
Posted by Blogger Heather :  September 15, 2008

Thank goodness he is OK! That picture of him on the breathing machine absolutely made my heart sink. My daughter is almost 22 months old and I STILL have that baby monitor right next to my bed so I can hear her breathe at night. I'm such a worrier!

thak goodness. Though i will keep praying he is improving.
Posted by Anonymous shannon :  September 15, 2008

Awesome! Glad he's doing better.
I thought it might be Bronchiolitis (my son had it also).
Take Care

smoking pregnant mom...sad
Posted by Anonymous canadiantania :  September 15, 2008

My son had a similar experience around this age. And each year still, cool humidifier, hot showers and lots of love!!

Glad he is better and sorry you had to deal with such a scary experience=(

We still have to drag out or ventilation machine and dinosaur mask 1-2 times a year and he still HATES it.
Posted by Blogger Donna :  September 15, 2008

just adding my "glad he is feeling betters"
Posted by Anonymous uumomma :  September 15, 2008

Ok so Im going to be nastily judgemental... but that woman puffing away didnt even deserve to get pregnant...

I cant believe how much info women get on the bad effects of drinking and smoking when pregnant, AND STILL DO IT. aghhh ...

Hope your little guys allright!
Posted by Blogger Tachaé :  September 15, 2008

I'm so glad he's OK! We went through exactly the same thing- ER visits, X-rays, with our oldest when he was 1. He was eventually diagnosed with RSV and we spent the next 4 fall/winter seasons with a nebulizer and multiple prescriuptions, trips to the ER, etc. We were lucky and he outgrew it about 5-6 yrs old and is now about to turn 12, an athletic kid who escaped with no scarring and no asthma. Hang in there Karla- you'll get to the other side.
Posted by Blogger CP :  September 15, 2008


We had to rush Max to the ER last fall when he turned blue and spiked a dangerously high temp. Xrays, bloodwork, etc. I know how a Mommy's heart can shatter from the unknown as the doctors tell you, ".. I don't know ..".. I will be praying for Nate, and you and Mark, too. Get some rest.

Hugs & Love,

De-lurking to say I'm so glad that things are getting better! How incredibly, incredibly scary.

I hope you all recover quickly from the stress and the fear, and that your precious boy feels better as soon as possible, both physically and emotionally.

Posted by Blogger Liana :  September 16, 2008

I'm also a frequent reader, but not much of a commentor. I am SO glad that Nate is ok, I am sorry you had such a big scare! I had to take my daughter to the ER for something completely different when she was about 10 months old, and it took her a long time to be completely back to her old self. Its just so scary for them. But its nothing lots of extra love and kisses and cuddles won't fix! He will be ok.
Posted by Blogger Lora :  September 16, 2008

So, SO glad Nate is OK!
Posted by Blogger Angella :  September 16, 2008

I am so glad to hear he is doing better!
Posted by Blogger TBG :  September 16, 2008

such a scary story...i'm so happy that he's okay now.
Posted by Blogger joyce :  September 17, 2008

(breathing a sigh of relief)
Hugs to you and Nate.
Posted by Blogger Shelliza :  September 17, 2008

okay am I missing something????

“You never know if there’s a little brother or sister in there,” she said, gesturing towards my stomach.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, I'm sho, sho glad that he's feeling better!! :) I've been worried! Keep up the good work. :)
Posted by Blogger Alison :  September 17, 2008

Incidentally, I work in a lab that is far along on a treatment for bronchiolitis. It is such a common condition in children, and I appreciate your poignant perspective as a parent in this circumstance. It helps to motivate us when we know that our lab work may very well prevent this kind of agony in the future.

I'm so glad to know he's feeling better.

I'm so behind on blogs, but I am SO glad Nate is okay. So glad.

Also, that smoking woman has my blood boiling.


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