The Toddler Rides Again

Well, on Tuesday night, Natalie and I journeyed deeper into the wilds of parenthood, wandering into that uncharted territory where your child nearly scares you to death. We had our first midnight trip to the emergency room with Thomas. It wasn’t a long trip in terms of arrival to destination because Natalie was speeding through downtown Shelby at speeds my Camry rarely reaches. I learned right then that neither speed limit, nor red light, nor traffic pattern will separate my son from the love of his mom. Also, I learned if my wife ever wants to quit her job as a librarian, she has a second career waiting as an ambulance driver. 

The problem is Thomas woke up at 1:00 in the morning crying, which isn’t all that unusual (we’re still working on sleep training), but this time he was not only crying but gasping for breath and clutching at his throat. His forehead was hot. He had a temperature of 103 and a wheeze loud enough to rival a lifelong smoker forced to run. 

Now back up five hours. Before bed, Thomas had a slightly runny nose, but otherwise he was acting perfectly normal, toddling around the house as if he owned the place. For a kid in daycare, a slightly runny nose is part of baseline health. I mean, in the past three months Thomas has had RSV, the stomach bug, and foot and mouth disease. Merely a runny nose seemed like a step in the right direction, keyword being seemed. Little did we know it foreboded a long night in the emergency room. 

The ER is a surreal place. We had to walk through metal detectors and get checked in by a security guard to enter the ER, which I thought was kind of strange. Turns out, I quickly realized why this procedure was in place. No sooner than we arrived and sat down in the waiting room than another man walked up to check in. I overheard him talking to the security guard and the desk receptionist. The man said he was homeless and needing help. He said he was having strange thoughts. The receptionist asked if he was having any thoughts of self harm. “No,” the man said, “more like thoughts of hurting a stranger.”

I suspect the receptionist tripped a silent alarm of some sort because in less than a minute another security guard as well as a police officer emerged from the corridors of the hospital. The man was polite enough. Eventually, he admitted that he just wanted a shower, and the police officer escorted him down a hallway to somewhere else in the hospital. The receptionist and two security guards continued to talk, however, and we listened to them swap war stories about their craziest patients while we sat nearby, Thomas still wheezing in Natalie’s arms. All I can say, after overhearing some of their stories, is God bless everyone who works in an emergency room–may their numbers increase and bloodlines prosper. 

Eventually we got to move to an exam room and see a doctor. After suctioning out his mucus and running a few tests, the doctor diagnosed Thomas with croup. Being first time parents, neither of us knew anything about this childhood ailment, but the doctor said croup is pretty common in kids. They gave Thomas a treatment with a nebulizer and an oral steroid which quickly improved his breathing. I say quickly, but really we didn’t get home till 5 AM, at which point, after entering the house, Thomas proceeded to mount his Red Flyer toddler car and putter about the kitchen going “vrooom, vrooom” as if nothing slightly traumatic happened five hours earlier.

14 thoughts on “The Toddler Rides Again

  1. I am glad to hear he is doing well. Nothing quite ages a parent like that kind of experience. I hope he has a license to operate that vehicle. Again, I am glad to hear he is okay.

  2. So glad for his quick recovery and very, very grateful I’ve not experienced that with our daughter-several times with my mom as she’s aged, but never Darling Daughter

  3. That is what kids do. The minute they feel better, even if they’re sick, they’re ready to play.

    My when daughter was a couple of years old, she kept coming to me and saying her throat hurt. I’d start to call for a doctor’s appointment and she’d be outside playing with her friends. Finally, I called the doctor’s office for an appointment. I told her that if they said she just wanted attention, I’d be very angry. Turns out, she had strep throat.

    These things are going to happen. This isn’t the first or last.

  4. Steven has transported kids to the hospital with croup. . .he says it’s no joke; I had several bouts as a child and expect Peter will give us a run with it as well. So glad Thomas is ok!
    Side notes: Peter liked this post and he likes Thomas’ toddler car—he says it’s like his toddler ambulance and they should race!

    1. Thanks! Yes, slowly but surely we’re getting back normal sleep levels, which means we’re able to function without drooling or nodding off mid-sentence.

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