Another incredibly life changing moment was the day my eldest son had his first severe asthma attack. Before this day he had typical wheezing that came with the virus. It was not anything too severe and he usually got over it without the use of the inhaler.
But on this morning, he woke up and could barely catch his breath. We had no experience with what an asthma attack looked like. We knew how to identify typical wheezing, but on this particular morning his abs were in pain, he couldn't keep down any food and he could not catch his breath. We decided to take him to the family doctor, who was and is an excellent GP, but is unfortunately not in Trinidad anymore:(
The doctor listened to his lungs, and shortly after he vomitted all over the floor. He told us that our son was having a severe asthma attack and we needed to take him to the health centre right away to put him on the nebulizer.
*Nebulizers use oxygen, compressed air or ultrasonic power to break up medical solutions and suspensions into small aerosol droplets that can be directly inhaled from the mouthpiece of the device. (wikipedia.com)
So I stayed in the car with the baby and my husband went in to get my son hooked up to the machine. A long time passed and I started to get a little worried and worse yet, my cellphone was not charged (a common mistake I always make) and I couldn't find out from my husband what was going on. I wasn't sure if it would be safe to take the baby into a health centre at his age so I decided to wait a little longer. Couldn't wait any longer and went inside with baby to see if everything was okay. The nurses of course were grumpy saying only one parent could stay at a time, so I had to leave and go back in the car. He seemed okay, but he still didn't look like he could catch his breath, even while on the machine.
So there I was waiting in the car again....time passed and getting worried again...
Then I had this strange feeling that my mother was on her way to pick me up and that I would see her car behind me at any moment. Now would be a good time to mention that ever since I started having babies I stopped driving. My husband did most of the driving due to my pregnant bellies, so I had completely forgotten how to drive.
And then, just as I imagined in my mind, I saw my mother's car pull up behind our car and my mother was gesturing to me in a semi-frantic kind of way to come quickly. I switched off and locked up the car, picked up the baby and jumped into her car.
She told me my husband just called her (because my cellphone was not charged) and told her to pick me up from the parking lot because he just got into an ambulance with my son and they were being carried to the hospital!
I almost freaked out! But knowing my mom and knowing that she had to drive and knowing that she gets panicked very quickly I tried my best to stay calm.
Either my brother or brother-in-law was given the keys to bring home our car form the parking lot but I can't remember those details...the focus was on my son and what in the world was happening!?! Why did he need an ambulance? what's going on?
So of course, as I knew would happen, my mom started to freak out a bit. She stopped the car and started to cry and panic. I told her, trying to swallow the tears feeling like I would burst, "we need to stay calm and strong (for my son)...let's just keep trying to call (my husband) and find out what's going on".
So she started back driving and got home. The waiting for that call was such torture. You can't keep on cellphones in the emergency area in hospital so we had to wait for my husband to come outside and call us. When he finally did, he said they could not take him off the machine because it was a very bad asthma attack so they transferred him via ambulance. He was doing a little better but they still needed to keep him on the machine, and possibly overnight. This worried us a lot, but at least he got there saftely and was still in a calm state so we took it one step at a time.
I jumped in the car with my mom and dad and the baby and we went to the hospital. They kept the baby and I ran inside to see what was going on. The emergency pediatrics section was very very impressive! The doctors and staff were accomodating, and even though only one parent can stay long term, they still gave leeway for both parents to stay a while with their kids, to spend time with them and settle them down. I really appreciated this!
Seeing him hooked up to all these machines was soooo heartbreaking... But he was a tropper. Reading his insect and bug books and 'trying' to stay as calm as he could. This was particularly difficult for him because he in incredibly hyperactive by nature and worst yet they had him on ventalin which tends to make kids even more hyper. lolz:p
I looked around and almost every child in there was there for a nebulizer. This was a little scary. Why do so many children suffer with asthma? And then I wondered, what could have caused my son to have such a strong asthma attack so suddenly. Now I'm chronic with keep records and keeping track of what my kids eat and when and where, etc...and then I realised, that every time my son had wheezing attacks recently, were days that he ate things with artifical red colouring in it. I remembered because had not had many attacks the past few months, but the days they happened I somehow remembered what he ate the morning and day before because I remembered the events that took place on that day.
The day and night before my son had this huge asthma attack he had eaten a combination of red velvet cake, red lollypops, red mango and a snack with red colouring. I even remember worrying about it that day that I was allowing him to eat too many things with artificial stuff in it. But we were offered one of these things from a reliative and the rest were from his tuckshop in school and we didn't really think much of it at the time.
I started to wonder if the artificial red coluring was causing this or jump-starting a respiratory reaction somehow?!?!
Fortunately his breathing normalized and an incredibly generous relative bought a nebulizer machine for us to keep at home to avoid having to go to the hospital. I changed the curtains, changed the sheets and made sure the room was dust free for him to come home to and relax. When he got home, the ventalin had him like a buzzing bee, we almost needed to tie him down to keep him calm. LOL! But he was definately back to his old self and I never thought I would be so happy to see him so hyper again:p
After a few weeks and then months of trial and error and in very small quantities, we changed his diet. We wiped artificial colouring completely out! And would you believe it? He had no more asthma attacks for that period. Then we gave him a snack or two with a little colouring in it without him knowing or noticing to test this theory and those days he had minor but obvious wheezing. We found the trigger...
Soon after I started a FB page entitled "Restock the Tuck Shops" to fight for a cause I really believe in. Click here to view it...
So the trauma and mystery was over and we felt a sense of relief Alhamdulillah that our son was okay and fully recovered. But in the end there are a few important lessons we learnt!!!
MESSAGE TO PARENTS:-
To all moms! Learn to drive. It doesn't mean you have to do all the driving, but it is incredibly important to at least know how. After this scenario I made it my business to have my husband re-teach and re-aquaint me with the roads of T&T. Now I feel a little more secure knowing that if some kind of emergency comes up with my kids and my husband isn't around I can drive them to safety or to a hospital or as with this particular situation, drive myself and the babies home!
Secondly, if your child is having difficulty doing something natural, like breathing or eating and even standing or walking, never hesitate to get him looked at by a doctor. If the doctor is telling you he's fine and you know something is wrong, as I said in the blog post before, follow your instincts and get a second opinion to confirm INshaa Allah;)
Seek Allah(Swt)'s help in everything! No matter how minor, no matter how major. No matter how confused or panicked you are! His help should always be sought first and foremost Insha Allah;)