Emergency Medicine Heroes

Have you ever had something happen, and in the moment you didn’t realize exactly how big the thing was? That was me five years ago today. Littlest was struggling with Failure to Thrive (ftt) post-decompression surgery. He had a regular weight check at his pediatrician’s office, and went into cardio-pulmonary failure. I remember seeing his heart rate dropping and having a very surreal feeling while doing CPR with Dr. T, that it was totally separate from my emotion. When the ambulance got there, the EMTs took over and asked if a parent was traveling with, and when Dr. T said “yes, his mom” and pointed to me, they were shocked that I wasn’t the nurse, because I was so calm. 

After the transfer  and subsequent resuscitation in the ED, we were transferred to PICU, where we stayed for the next two weeks. I didn’t realize at the time quite how many times we lost him on the table (4-5), how long the ED effort lasted (4+ hours), or how extremely rare it is for a child to come back from that without severe cognitive damage. It wasn’t until I got the hospitalist/intensivist reports that I was able to access the verbatim memories (which are full-color memories I replay in my worst nightmares, fwiw).

I had tuned out all emotion and gone into a weeks-long Acute Phase function where my brain simply took over and archived all the emotional weight and freak-out for those moments I could cope with them. I would come home and weep in the shower, or scream into a pillow, but as soon as I got into the hospital, I was absolutely in control. It was truly the oddest thing. 

I know I still process moments from that stay, and I regularly wake up weeping because those memories come out at night. It’s definitely a miracle I’m able to cuddle an almost-6 year old boy in his bed tonight. One who is speaking in full sentences over his trach. Who is the happiest person I’ve ever met. I’m grateful for the experiences of losing him, because it taught me how to hold my children (and all loved ones) loosely, realizing their lives are for God’s pleasure and glory, and have nothing to do with me. 

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