Coming Home With Croup

It’s official; my little boy has croup.

We have been incredibly lucky to have a healthy little boy who rarely gets sick. We have had our share of ER visits and one surgery, but very rarely does my little guy get a cold or a real illness.

Yesterday was a pretty lazy Sunday filled with building blocks, running a few errands, and some yard work. My son was his usual playful self.

Last night, he developed a bit of a runny nose. That’s really not a big deal, but for my son it is.

As the night progressed, he continued to become more and more congested. I was up with him multiple times and he woke up crying a few times. He was having trouble breathing, but my husband and I just passed it off as congestion.

This morning, my husband left for work early as usual, but something in the way my son was breathing would not let me settle back to sleep. He was wheezing, gasping for air in between breaths.

I didn’t want to wake him, so I let him sleep a bit while I texted and cancelled our morning playdate. Then I called the pediatrician’s office hoping to squeeze him in for an appointment at some point during the day.

While I was explaining things to the nurse, my son woke up and began the dreaded barking cough and was wheezing audibly enough for the nurse to hear him over the phone.

“Is that him?” she asked me in a bit of an astonished tone. When I said yes, she said, “Um, you don’t need to come in to the clinic. You need to go straight to the ER.”

In a multi-tasking move I’ve mastered since being a mother, I managed to get my son and myself dressed all while calling my husband. As I was packing up the last of my son’s bag my husband walked in the door from work and we all drove off to the ER.

Within forty-five minutes of walking into the hospital, we had a croup diagnosis, my son was given a dose of steroids and got to pick out a book, and we were on our way back to the car.

Croup is an upper-respiratory virus that constricts the airway. It causes children to have trouble breathing and have a very distinctive barking cough. It usually gets better during the day and is the worst at night. The steroid dose my son got at the hospital should help open his airway, and then at home we can sleep with a humidifier and try hot showers for the steam or taking him outside into cool air at night.

We have dealt with croup once before, on my son’s first birthday. It was a similar experience; difficulty breathing resulting in a trip to the ER, a steroid shot, and some long nights at home.

Watching my son have trouble getting air is such a scary feeling. And I know that feeling; that gasping; that helplessness. I had severe asthma when I was growing up that resulted in frequent illnesses and hospital stays. I always had to carry an emergency inhaler with me, had to take a preventative inhaler, and remember many childhood nights sitting on my parents’ bed doing my nightly nebulizer treatment.

Every day, I am so very thankful that my son is healthy. I really don’t know how my mom handled the stress and exhaustion of constantly taking care of me when I was always so severely sick.

Croup can be very scary, but I will gladly give up a week of sleep and playdates until he gets better.  And I remain so very thankful that these times of illness for my son are so very rare.

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