Friday, March 5, 2010
Catching up Part II
Today is Spouse's and my 27th wedding anniversary. It's a nice feeling, but hardly mattered today. Early this morning, Mom phoned to say that my 8 year old nephew Alex was in the hospital. Seems that yesterday evening, he and his mom, my sister Janet, were having a chat while nibbling on grapes. Nothing unusual or untoward there. Suddenly Alex got a stricken look on his face and started gurgling. Janet knew right away what had happened: a grape had become lodged in his esophagus. If it had been in his windpipe, a Heimlich maneuver might have dislodged it. The esophagus is a different thing. When Alex was born, the connection between his esophagus and windpipe never separated. A fistula [like a tube] connected them, so anything he swallowed he also inhaled. Three months, numerous procedures and surgeries later, part of his esophagus was removed. He's had other scary choking events before, but usually, he becomes so exhausted from trying to send something up or down, he falls asleep and his throat loosens enough to swallow. Not this time. His parents rushed him to their local hospital in Calvert County, but it is not equipped for emergencies in children. After waiting hours in the ER, hoping the grape would move up or down, the doctors decided he had to get to Children's here, in D.C. He and his mom came by ambulance shortly after one o'clock this morning. As soon as I heard about it, I headed up to Children's. I don't remember ever seeing their parking garage as full as it was today. There were guys directing people to park perpendicular to cars already parked. By some miracle, I found a legit spot within minutes! I found Alex in the PACU [pediatric acute care unit], wrapped in a warm blanket, sitting up on a regular size hospital bed. Almost two hours earlier he'd been anesthatized and the grape removed. He was still very groggy and coughing, but ALIVE!! Janet looked relieved and completely exhausted. They'd been sitting in two ERs since the night before and had had no sleep. When his vital signs stabilized, his nurse removed all the monitoring stuff and he perked up a little. All he and his mom wanted at that point was to get home to Lusby, sixty miles south in Maryland. That's where I was able to help. I drove them halfway where we met up with Alex's dad and big brother Zach. When Zach crawled across my back seat to unbelt and waken his little brother, Alex continued to dose while Zach lifted him up and carried him to their car. I was moved watching how gentle and loving Zach was and how Alex rested his head on Zach's chest as if it was the most comfortable place in the world. When I talked with Mom this evening, she'd heard from Janet that Alex went straight to his parents' bed and fell asleep. Janet said she would be joining him as soon as she got her coat off. By now, Bill has probably carried his son to his own bed and the whole family is breathing easier now. I sure am. Thank goodness for Children's!