Wednesday, November 11, 2009

H1N1, a Dresser, 3 Paramedics, 5 Hours and about 100 More Gray Hairs

The week just started off badly. Samantha fell asleep on the 10-minute bus ride home from school on Friday, carrying a report from her teachers that she didn’t participate at all that day, an unheard of occurrence. After a confirmed fever of 101 and a visit to the doctor, it looked pretty likely that she had H1N1. We never got a chance to get her vaccinated, something that I was on the fence about but would have liked to have done anyway, if it would protect her from illness. I vacillated back and forth about the vaccination (I had already gotten her the seasonal flu vaccine), and was thrilled to hear that it would be offered in her school. The day before the school offering, a notice came home to parents that due to a lack of supply, the clinic was cancelled. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that, but it was likely that she may have already been infected by that time. The pediatrician put her on Tamiflu and told us good luck trying to find it, as supply was getting light. Steve found it on the first try, at CVS. The Tamiflu worked well, minimizing her symptoms and keeping her happy and fever-free. On Saturday, however, we got a little taste of the odd side-effects of the drug and now know why they hesitate to give it to older children or young adults – Sammi seemed to be hallucinating, giggling in her own little euphoria and saying things that didn’t make sense (well, things that made less sense than usual, at least!). She was staggering around some, like she was drunk. Apparently this is common, and has resulted in some attempted suicides (euphoria, sense of invincibility) among teens and young adults.

Due to the illness, we were keeping her home from school until she finished her doses of the meds and we could establish that she was fever-free without medicine. On Tuesday morning, moments before I went into her room to get her up, I heard one of the most frightening sounds of my life—a tremendous crash, followed by hysterical screaming. I ran into Samantha’s room and found her pinned underneath her large, full, heavy dresser, with only her head and part of her right leg free. I lifted it off of her and Steve and I kept her still and tried to calm her down while I called 911. The paramedics arrived in about 10 minutes (I’m not exactly sure what took them so long, as the firehouse is quite close by), and after assessing her for breaks and any obvious internal bleeding, loaded her into a neck brace and onto a back board for transport to the hospital. I rode with her, while Steve followed along in the car. Samantha calmed down a bit, holding onto her blankie for dear life. The three paramedics were really amazing with her, and one, in particular, seemed to know all the right things to say to her to keep her calm. She even waved to him and said hi. I think having two young children of his own helped a lot. At the hospital, they hooked her up to fluids then took her for a CT scan of her head and neck, which came back normal. Steve stayed with her for that, and she did amazingly well. Then she dozed for a while until she was removed from the back board and taken for another CT scan, this time of the rest of her body, to look for tissue and organ damage or internal bleeding. Again, nothing. After that, Samantha decided that she was done and wanted to play, so she played doctor with her stuffed pink rhino, Lulu. Steve helped her put the neck brace on Lulu, and Samantha pretended her detatched pulse-ox lead was a stethoscope, listening to Lulu's heart, looking in her ears, and checking her eyes. After five hours in the hospital, we were finally cleared to go home. I’m still in absolute awe that a) she wasn’t killed, b) that her bones and internal organs weren’t crushed and c) that she had absolutely NO damage whatsoever (apart from a little bump on her head where a small lamp had hit her on the way down). Not even a bruise. It really was miraculous.

A few funny moments occurred when people would try to ask Samantha questions. “Samantha, can you please straighten your arm out for me?” (requested as Samantha was screaming from having just been stuck with a needle for an IV) “Samantha, where does it hurt?” Steve and I would just look at each other and sigh, then explaining patiently that she doesn’t understand everything, and isn’t going to respond accurately, even if she does. “Does this hurt?” “Yessss!” (answered with a big smile). Hahahahahaha. To be honest, with all the sheltering we’ve done with her, I don’t really think she understands “hurt.” Although it would be great if she could tell us that the reason she’s cranky one day was because she had a hell of a headache and it really HURT. Great! I’ll get the Tylenol and fix it up right away! Problem solved.

Child-proofing is the big lesson to be had from this. After I posted on Facebook about what happened, I received many, many responses from people who said this was the push they needed to start anchoring their children’s dressers and bookcases. I’m so glad this has raised some awareness for us and for so many others. We’ve now removed the dresser from her room and bolted it down where it now resides in her closet (which is now protected by a child-proof lock that is also practically parent-proof as well). We’re going through the house carefully to anchor other large pieces of furniture as precautions. As she gets older and more curious, and as we begin to afford her a little bit more freedom, we want to be sure there will be no more surprises.


Ruby's Mom said...

OMGosh!I'm glad she's not hurt!How scarry!

Dawn said...

We seem to have a lot in common. When Taylor was 6, she pulled a dresser with a TV on it, over on top of her. We don't know how the TV missed her head, but she was trapped under the dresser.

After a ride to the hospital in the back of an ambulance, she escaped with just some bruising on her chest.

Taylor doesn't understand the concept of hurt either. She broke her leg at school one year and never cried. She just stopped walking on it. 7 hours later, she did eventually start to cry.

As for the flu...we don't know if that is what Taylor has now or had before. She's being treated with Tamiflu again and an antibiotic as well. I guess they are covering all the bases.

I'm glad to hear that Sammi escaped serious injury. I also hope she is feeling better.


RobMonroe said...

So glad to know that she's not hurt.

The problem with teaching them what "hurt" means is that now Abby will say to me at least once a week "you hurt me" when I'm no where near her. She looks serious about it, too.

Lacey said...

Oh, I'm so glad she's ok. You here such horror stories of children being killed by things falling on them. Thanks for the reminder.

Carol N. said...

Yikes! I can't imagine how you and Steve kept yourselves together through that - I would have been an absolute mess!

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. Oh my how frightening that must have been. I have goosebumps just reading about it. I'm so glad she was not hurt.

tekeal said...

so glad everything turned out ok... take care.

Michelle said...

oh my goodness! It is amazing that she came out of that unscathed! How scary that whole situation must have been - especially walking in to her room and finding her pinned under her dresser! So glad she is ok!