Sunday, October 4, 2009


As a child, my brother had this rubber caveman mask that was the most terrifying thing I had ever encountered. I wouldn't go into the basement because I knew it was down there. One time, one of his friends called my name from the back of the basement, I carefully and slowly went back and he jumped out wearing the goddamned thing! I freaked!!!! I was crying inconsolably for the longest time (in reality, it was probably only a few minutes -- but in memory, I never really got over it).

As a teenager, I was in a traumatic automobile accident with my cousin's girlfriend and best girlfriend from school while visiting my cousin in Florida. We were cut out of the car with "the jaws of life." I fractured my transverse process, had a hematoma in my kidney and had never known pain like that before. I didn't know if/when the pain would go away or if I would even live to see tomorrow.

As a twenty-something, relationships began and ended. The raw ache it would leave behind each time got deeper and deeper. The notion of opening myself up to the next person seemed an insurmountable feat. Why would I even do that again? It will just end badly. I'll have that hole in my chest again that makes me feel like I need to stop breathing and that life will never be happy again.

At thirty five I had Amelia. Fear has a whole new meaning. Becoming a parent does this to you -- whether your child is healthy or not. Everything you ever thought about becoming a parent no longer applies and everything your parents ever did that you thought was crazy-overprotective or just plain crazy, makes sense.

Friday night/Saturday morning, at 3AM, I knew real fear. I heard my little girl fighting to breathe. My regular course of action, as we've been down this road many, many times with her small, reactive airway, is to give her motrin or tylenol and a nebulizer treatment. Normally, the treatment calms her breathing as the her fever is reduced by the meds and afterwards she goes right back to sleep. Not that night.

The treatment wasn't working. Amelia started to do something I've never seen her do before. She would tense her whole body, make a guttural cry out and cough, A LOT. Over and over she did this. I turned on all the lights so I could really see her coloring and her lips were darker than normal and she was shivering horribly. Without hesitation, I dialed 911. It seemed like too many minutes between me dialing 911 and a voice coming onto the phone. I stayed on the phone with them and was assured there was a team of emergency workers on the way.

I was so sure, as I stood there next to Amelia's crib, that I was losing her. She looked so bad. No longer making guttural sounds, her eyes were rolling up into her head and she was just struggling to breathe. I was racking my brain trying to remember child CPR. I kept repeating "stay with me Amelia, stay with mommy, little girl." The police arrived first, as the 6th Precinct is downstairs, then EMS and the Fire Dept. They took the nebulizer mask and attached it to the oxygen tank and we carried her out to the ambulance. Once inside, I told them I wanted to go to NYU because that's where all her Drs. are. When we reached 14th street the paramedic told me we were going to the hospital closest on 16th st., Beth Israel.

When we arrived at Beth Israel, they put us into the trauma room and started working right away. Heavy breathing treatments, IV and oxygen. Amelia's fever was 104. After a few hours of this, we were transferred up to the PICU. A full regimen of the same continued. There was no sleep -- which was fine for Amelia because she was all wired up on albuterol. Her fever was up and down yesterday, we had two more scary episodes. And so the day continued.

Coffee, cartoons, a private room and an egg and cheese sandwich were our luxuries yesterday. Then, our upstate friends -- Amelia's adopted Titi (Aunt) Terry called and was on her way into the city to lend her support for the afternoon. I had several offers from family to come up from Baltimore (thank you and I love you!!!) but it all seemed too much. This was perfect! Terry's son drove her in for several hours and I was able to run crosstown to shower, pack a bag and get the car, while Terry stayed in the room with Amelia. When I got back, we ordered in some dinner and sat around and "gibber jabbered" for awhile. I think the bit of normalcy was good for Amelia because she perked up seemed much better. She sat up in bed the whole time watching cartoons and playing with her couple favorite toys I brought back for her.

Last night was pretty good, considering Amelia had to have multiple breathing treatments, vitals checked, fights with cannula's and overall hospital stuff done all night long. No scary episodes and we both slept quite a bit. She sleeps even now. Ahhh...there's nothing more restorative than sleep. Amelia's breathing on room air now, hasn't needed O2 since we woke up this morning and they gave her her first feeding late this morning. I think they're moving us out to the Pediatric floor today and if all goes well, we should be home tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I wish I could give you a big hug right now. It hurts to see you both suffer sooooo much. Thank G-d for your strength and positive outlook. You are my hero! Give Amelia kisses for me. I'm on call and ready to come up--just let me know when.


Anonymous said...
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Monica said...

Debbie, I haven't checked in for a while, and am so sorry you and Amelia are going through this. Please remember that we live very close to you, so please don't hesitate to ask if there's anything you need. Hang in there--Monica (SLP)

Rosetta said...

Wow that sounds scary! Glad to hear things are going better now. I hope y'all get to go home soon!

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

Um...this was the fear I was supposed to have read..I'm sorry I haven't been around Debbie- I can't even imagine the terror and the after effect...I'm kind of glad I'm reading this now, because I know you are both okay- selfish of me isn't it? Love you..reading on...