Monday, January 04, 2010

All is quiet on...


New Year's Day was a beautiful, crisp, clear, cold sunny day around these parts. We spent some of it happily playing in the park and some of cosily snuggled up indoors watching the original Superman movie.

What a contrast to the night before.

We went to bed early (yes, on New Year's Eve) and were briefly woken by fireworks at midnight. Then at around 1.30am I heard Lucy coughing and crying out a little. I went in to settle her. To my alarm, I found her with a very rattly chest and wheezing like I have never heard her before. I got her out of her cot and settled her upright on my shoulder but I didn't like the sound of her.

I took her in to Hayley and we started to try to look at her breathing to see whether it was from the stomach, indicating that she was struggling. While doing this she wheezed even more loudly and then cried out. I was now very worried that this was a first asthma attack. I've known asthmatics - including Hayley - and this sounded as bad as anything I had ever witnessed.

We called 999. (That's the UK equivalent of 911.)

I held Lucy on my shoulder and she stopped crying a little after a while. We were put on hold waiting for an operator for what seemed an age but was probably no more than a couple of minutes. Meanwhile we calmed Lucy whose breathing seemed better and found Oliver's ventolin inhaler.

At this point we gave up waiting on 999 and hung up. We tried to see whether she would have the inhaler. I showed her what to do, using Oliver's little mask, and asked her to do it. She said no. Not wanting to distress her we were about to ring the out of hours doctor when 999 rang back. We explained that the situation seemed to be more under control and they said don't hesitate to call back if necessary.

We quickly got through to the out of hours doctors service and they told us to bring her down. I de-iced the frozen car and Hayley took her down there. All the time she was improving and by the time the doctor saw her she was breathing well and the doctor confirmed her chest sounded OK. Her diagnosis was that her heavy cold had caused her to breathe in mucus.

Since then she has improved daily, sleeping better each night, though she did have a couple of nights in our bed with Hayley at first. So everything is back to normal now, but the memory of those few moments when I told Hayley to call 999 will almost certainly stay with me forever. I don't want to be melodramatic, but I don't think I have ever called 999 and I did so on New Year's Eve because I truly feared the possibility of the worst. Thank God my fears were unfounded, but it does remind me how lucky we are and that others have not been so lucky.