June 1, 2009

Not Breathing

At Silver Dollar City this weekend, I was waiting around with my dad, step-mom and youngest sister for the Grand Saloon show. I had the kids playing near us on the other side of the line divider while we waited in line. A boy was sleeping nearby in a stroller. As it crept closer to showtime, I had the kids come under the log divider and stand in line with us. A few minutes later, the grandmother of the boy in the stroller became frantic, asking for help because the boy was not breathing. My dad is a respiratory therapist and hopped the barrier.

The boy was about Anjali's age and size. His hair was reddish, but light in color. Not quite strawberry blond. His skin was all sorts of frightening shades of color. The boy's eyes were rolling, something was streaming out of his mouth and his body was lifeless.


I always joke how my kids gain 10 lbs and are dead weights when they fall asleep on my shoulder.

I will never refer to my children as "dead weight" again.

Dad did get the little boy to breathe again. But it was still a grim situation. The boy was somewhat awake, but was not crying. It is impossible to explain how truly awful, heartbreaking, terrifying it was to see a toddler not cry. He should have cried. No wait. A strange man with a beard was hovering over him. He should have screamed.

In about a ten minutes time, the paramedics arrived and they continued working on him together. The paramedics whisked him away.

Afterward, I thought I was going to vomit. I felt punched in the stomach. It certainly did not help that the boy was so near to Anjali's age.

My sister Maureen and I were crying and very shaken. My step-mom was a little more mature about it, but was quite proud of my dad. Dad? Shook off the You Saved His Life Backslaps. Not in a cold manner, but in a practical, professional way. It was not about modesty. Of course, he is concerned about the boy, but this is what Dad does. He treats a patient, then lets them go. Maureen and I are the ones wanting to Google the incidence. Was it "just" a "normal" seizure? Was it heatstroke? Was the boy already sick and just happened to spike a fever at the park? We want to know the ending so that we can wrap it up with ribbon.

My dad rarely gets that luxury.

Obviously, being a front row witness to the Fragility of Life left me thinking deep, dark, anxious thoughts. Now, I am questioning whether I worry enough. Perhaps, I am too relaxed? I need to retake that First Aid, most definitely.

Anything can happen.

Friday and Saturday, up until then, I had been a crabby, hot, sticky mess. I was one of "those" mothers constantly nagging her kids about something. Fretting that the kids were not having enough goddamned fun. Damnit, they should be having fun. Completely forgetting that they are just children - crabby, hot, sticky little kids who needed an adult to take care of them.

Watching that little boy struggle to breathe left me feeling ashamed of how little patience I have towards my children sometimes.

Also, I am seeing Dad in a new, different light, today.

I like what I see.


CPA Mom said...

AWESOME for your dad!! My husband is an EMT and does stuff like that all the time. I took it for granted too until he told me about saving a little boy from drowning yesterday at a pool party he took my daughter too. All the moms let their 4 year olds get in the pool alone and went off talking. Only he went in the pool with our daughter. And with her in one hand he had to pull out another child with his other hand.

And the mom? Didn't even thank him.

Kelly said...

A friend of mine has a little boy who has seizures when he has a low temperature. The last time he had one he stopped breathing. He's perfectly fine, so maybe the little boy you saw is too. An ear infection can be serious but he's going to probably grow out of it. I hope that little boy is ok!

LL said...

This made me cry and get goose bumps and shake a little at the same time. I need to get first aid training immediately.

And wow to your dad, that's awesome.

Olivia said...

I have sometimes referred to my sleeping baby as "dead weight". Every time it comes out of my mouth I think that it's an awful, "inviting heartache" thing to say, but the habit seems hard to break.

I hope the little boy will be okay.

meno said...

That's a real kick in the butt experience. Wow. It's hard to go back to having fun after something like that.

Your dad is awesome.

Miriam said...

What LL said. Wow.

Jen said...

Wow, if I ever have a medical problem, I want to have a qualified professional standing nearby! Does that sound too pollyanna'ish? But still, what are the odds?

My youngest has a seizure disorder and although he's never stopped breathing (thank heavens), many kids do. However, if I did have one of those kids? I'd never leave home without the valium suppository pack to stop the seizure asap.

When we flew to Europe, we brought one along, since the thought of no breathing on a flight over the ocean was awful. He did actually have a seizure after we boarded to go home -- heat, fevers, weird sleep schedules, they all make a seizure more likely.

becky s said...

When I saw the opening to your post, I was all "Yay! Silver Dollar City!" I spent many summers there - my dad worked form them for over 20 yrs. But I cannot imagine watching your dad work on that little boy. I, too, would have been crying, thinking about "what if?" I really hope he was okay after the paramedics took him to the hospital.

Bethany said...

Thank God your Dad was there.

Greg said...

Good on your Pops! Glad you got the chance to see your Dad in another moment of "Oh, wow!" Sometimes those don't happen enough and fortunately you were there when it did. Makes for saying prayers at night a little extra special.

QIR said...

I think you said you just joined a new moms group. Given this incident your group might be interested in doing a Child CPR class together.

If there were enough of you, you'd likely get a group discount on the fees, I think you'd have peace of mind, and the group as a whole would be a valuable community resource.

Just a thought.

Zip n Tizzy said...

I'm shaken just reading about it.
Thank goodness your dad was there. Without him it's quite possible that everyone would have stood around helplessly until the paramedics arrived. Hopefully they were able to stabilize him. Certainly your dad saved him by getting him breathing again in those crucial moments.
He's someones secret hero.