Thursday, 16 October 2008
A very bad night
Embarrassing admission: I didn't know croup still existed.
I honestly thought it was a yesteryear kind of thing, like smallpox or polio – the last time I heard of it, Anne of Green Gables was heroically dosing baby Minnie May with ipecac syrup to save her from a midnight 'attack of the croup'.
There's nothing like finding out you're wrong firsthand.
On Tuesday evening Kickbaby startled awake with a strangled yell. A yell that kept on going, and kept on sounding strangled. I thought he was hungry but he refused to eat, arching away and flailing his arms, and every exhaled cry sounded like a seal bark. He – and I – got more and more frantic while Nathan called the ER.
The pediatrician said try a room full of steam or bring him in, so we stood in the bathroom with the shower on full-blast hot, sweating and trying to soothe our slippery, desperate, barking baby. It was awful. After about three-quarters of an hour he calmed down enough to sleep.
An hour later he woke with another yell, and this time it was all so, so much worse. Every breath was a long, strangled wheeze that made his little body rigid, every cry was a huge bark, and at every moment I thought surely he didn't get any air that time, except he would cry again so he must have. It was incredibly frightening. He stopped thrashing around long enough for us to get his exhausted little body into the car seat and put a sleepy Berry in the car, and we all rushed to the hospital on base.
Croup in a five-month-old baby is serious stuff. Their airways are so tiny that the inflammation can block them off. A toddler or a child with croup is miserable, but pretty safe. A baby is not. After two doses of epi mist didn't eliminate the stridor (showing the inflammation was severe) they gave Kickbaby two steroid shots and x-rayed his chest.
I was astounded that they haven't come up with a more humane, gentle way to keep babies still for x-rays than this device (let me assure you, the calm 'hey check it out, I'm trapped in a tube' attitude of the toddler pictured is not typical, and a little baby looks even more pitiful strapped in there). But it turns out they get a better chest x-ray image if the infant is crying vigorously. It also turns out that the whole procedure makes you want to deck the tech and sprint off into the night with your helpless child.
Judging from the x-rays it was lucky we'd headed for the ER when we did, and Kickbaby was admitted to the hospital. I spent the rest of the night and the whole day by his bed, relieved the steroids worked so well and hoping we could take him home at night.
Kickbaby did sleep at home last night – he actually slept through the night which is unheard-of for him. This morning he's congested and croaky, but otherwise a brand-new little man. Me – I'm exhausted, relieved and grateful. And newly enlightened about croup.