A “Little” Cold Turns Dire

The Scenario

Imagine driving by a car accident. You see smoke rising from the engine of a car. You pull over, and your heart starts to race. Getting out of your car, you rush to accident scene. You pull open the car door and notice the man inside is conscious but stunned. As you help him out of the car, he leans on you as you lead him to the sidewalk.

Your heart is pumping, and adrenalin flows through you as you carry the full weight of a 220-pound man with the limited strength of your 140-pound frame. Setting the man down on the sidewalk, you collapse next to him and hear the sound of sirens. Within minutes, paramedics are attending the man. You walk away relieved help has arrived.

In this scenario, you don’t know the man you helped rescue. He is not a friend, a co-worker, or a family member. Now imagine another adrenalin pumping situation where the person involved is someone you love with all your being: your child.

A cold sleep
A Cold makes me sleepy.

The Situation

Recently, my son was recovering from what the nurse at his pediatrician’s office called a “nasty virus.” My son’s nurse had just left, and Samuel started to cry. I lifted his 25-pound body out of the stroller and placed him on the couch. Talking to him, I tried to find out what was wrong. He kept crying and turned red. I held my breath and placed him on the tumble mat. Grabbing the suction machine, I turned it on, took off his passy muir and suctioned my son’s trach getting a small amount of phlegm. Looking at his face, I saw my attempt did not succeed. His cry reverberated through my body. I realized I was unable to calm him down.

As adrenalin pumped through my body, I called my husband, explained the situation and asked him to pray. I hung up without waiting for his response and told Siri to dial the nurses number. I must have spoken too fast because the phone didn’t dial. By now, my mind is in overdrive. I manually dialed the number, and within five minutes, the nurse returned to help me. In those minutes, no prayer came to my lips, but only a cry of desperation as I literally called out, “Jesus.”

I managed to call my husband back and placed him on Facetime so he could talk to our son. Samuel was still red and crying, but not hysterically. Though my husband was only fifteen minutes away, the situation was exacerbated by a traffic accident.

I breathed a sigh of relief after I heard a small knock on the door and the nurse stepped into the house. After a quick assessment, she calls 911 and grabs the AMBU bag. My son’s color is concerning. His usual peach skin tone was replaced by a dusky pink, though not quite purple hue. Pulling the AMBU bag out of its container, the nurse turns on the oxygen tank. I took the AMBU attachment, placed it on my son’s trach and delivered two pumps of pure oxygen into my son’s airway. Before I attempted the third push, Samuel closed his eyes and cried.

The Turn Around

Within seconds, the color returned to his face. He stopped crying. I blinked. After a second assessment, the nurse called to cancel the 911 call as we heard a knock at the door. Five firefighters arrived to help. We explained the situation had stabilized. These kindhearted men with a genuine concern for our little guy are some of the nicest people I’ve met. Samuel waved to them and flashed one of his famous smiles. They waved back and said something like, “Hi, little buddy.”

Soon my husband arrived. He agreed our little guy was stable and the firefighters prepared to leave. I signed some paperwork, and we thanked these civil servants who have enormous hearts to serve and come to our rescue.

With Samuel happily playing with his favorite book as if nothing happened, my hubby and I looked at each other, and both breathed a sigh of relief. My husband said he prayed like he never prayed before. God answered our cry for help.

The Take Away

I can count on one hand how many times we have experienced such scary scenarios. In this circumstance, a cold caused excess secretions which plugged Samuel’s trach causing a loss of oxygen. I believe the pressure from the AMBU bag cleared the secretions and gave him much need oxygen.

Helps Trach Child with cold
Helped Samuel’s Cold? (No Mask)

So, how do I avoid this from happening again? I read an article recently stating the average child gets 6 – 12 colds a year. (http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/ConditionsandDiseases/InfectiousDiseases/Pages/Colds-Viral-Upper-Respiratory-Infections.aspx) A child is exposed at daycare, playing with other children and when going out in public. As a special needs mom, I limit the amount of exposure as much as I can.

My number one weapon? Washing hands. I know it sounds simple, but it has been highly effective for our family. I have adopted this technique ever since we brought our son home from the hospital. I wash my hands frequently throughout the day. Everyone who comes into our home is required to wash their hands.

If we are out in public and someone reaches out to touch my son, I have been known to block them. Before my son, I would never be so rude. I’d rather be polite. But, I know protecting my son is more important than being polite. (I still try to be polite about it.)

What most people don’t know is how seriously a “little” cold affects special needs children. It is not as simple as wiping his nose and giving some Tylenol. Circumstances can become dire from a little cold, as I found out recently.

What most people don’t know is how seriously a “little” cold affects special needs children.… Click To Tweet

The Tips:

Here are some ways I protect my little guy:

  1. Everyone washes hands when coming in our house.
  2. When coming in from shopping, I wash my hands.
  3. Anyone who has had a recent cold or is caring for a child or family member with a cold is asked to visit another time.
  4. Children at church are asked not to touch Samuel.
  5. If someone approaches my son in the store, I move to stand in front of him or be close enough to block, if necessary.
  6. If someone touches Samuel’s stroller, I squirt a generous amount of hand sanitizer and wipe vigorously.
  7. If I am in contact with door handles in public, I wash my hands before touching Samuel.
  8. When asked to sign the credit card machine at the store, I ask for a paper towel to wrap around the pen handle.

Does this guarantee my son won’t catch a cold? No, but if it cuts down on the number of exposures/colds, then it is worth it. I don’t know how Samuel caught this cold. The nurse from the pediatrician’s office said it could even be on someone’s clothes. Who would have thought such a thing? Do I wash my clothes when I come home? No, but perhaps I should consider it because I love seeing Samuel’s smiles.

No More Cold
No More Cold

I think as a mom; you do the best you can. I follow the tips above, and I pray daily for my son’s health. And if he gets a cold, I still pray. Even more.

Do you have tips to share on how you keep your children healthy? Post them below. You never know how your comments could help someone else.

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13 Thoughts on A “Little” Cold Turns Dire

  1. Great read Evelyn….you had me on the edge of my seat praying as I was reading this. I’m blowing Samuel a kiss from “up the road a bit”…..Love you all….

    Reply
    • Hi Jeanne, Thank you for the compliment. It was hard for me to write as I re-lived it writing it down. Thank God, he’s back to being happy. Samuel blew you a kiss back. ; ) Smiles, Evelyn

      Reply
  2. Sweet Samuel. You have a mommy and daddy that take such good care of you. God gave them a good team of caregivers to help take care of you and we are all so thankful for them. Samuel, you are loved and cherished.
    I will always keep you in prayer…keep those nasty colds and germs at bay, in Jesus name!
    Will keep all of you in prayer..and thankful that Samuel has such wonderful parents.

    Reply
    • Hi Cecilia, Thanks for your kind comments and especially for praying that colds & germs stay away. I am grateful to Samuel’s prayer warriors keeping our little mann lifted up. Let me know if I can pray for you too. Smiles, Evelyn

      Reply
  3. Thank you for sharing.I’m in tears…I too have a special needs little girl and we have lightened up on a lot of these tips I guess because she has been in good health…but your story is a reminder of its importance..and Gods reminder to us that we need to not forget the imporantance of it. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi April, I think of Samuel as such a healthy little guy. Then things like this happen reminding me I am mom of a medically needy child. God gives grace through it all. I’ll still wash my hands and not touch public door handles. Whatever I can do to help keep him healthy. I am glad to hear your daughter is in good health. It’s a gift, isn’t it? Smiles, Evelyn

      Reply
  4. My husband is a college instructor and is an obsessive hand washer, like you, in a good way. If he weren’t, I can’t imagine how many colds the three of us would be exposed to (let me cough all over my test and then hand it to you – head slap).

    Most people wouldn’t think twice about giving your boy a pat on the head to be friendly. It doesn’t occur to them that it could be dangerous.

    Great post.

    Reply
  5. Aloha! This story resonated with me, because I have been there too. My medically fragile son had a trach for 8 years, and though he doesn’t have one now, he is still very susceptible to getting very sick from a “simple” cold. A runny nose can send him to the hospital under respiratory distress, or it could mean 7-10 days of asthma-like symptoms and breathing difficulty. We do alot of hand-washing, anti-bacterial gels and wipes on shopping carts (or just after regular shopping), we ask folks not to visit if they have a cold and work on helping my son understand about germs and keeping safe (don’t touch the elevator button then put your finger in your mouth or rub your eyes). When he had his trach, he had mucas plugs from colds – its scary! We’ve had to go on a respirator because of the complications of a simple cold virus. He’s getting stronger, but at 13, still can get very sick from a sore throat and still uses his suction machine dailey due to excess mucas. Blessings to you and your family and to sweet Sam. We enjoy following your journey and wish you all the best!

    Reply
    • Aloha, Amanda. I try not to touch elevator buttons either. And I do the wipes on the shopping cart too. It’s amazing how many things you touch when you go out. Then, if I do touch something like a door handle, I have to remember to wipe down my steering wheel and especially my cell phone. It is a constant battle to stay as germ free as I can. I am glad your son is trach free and stronger now. Do you find being trach free has helped him not to get colds? Smiles, Evelyn

      Reply
      • Aloha Evelyn,
        He still gets colds without the trach, the exposure from kids at school is the same, and since he doesn’t have the trach, people don’t remember that he is still medically fragile and can still get very sick from a simple cold. I do miss the trach for one thing though: deep suctioning. He’s got a great cough, but that little tube could really clear him out. 🙂 I would measure where the fingers go and put tape on the tube, that way we (or nurses) didn’t go down farther than the tube and damage his throat. He still uses the suction machine daily, and we are so grateful for it, especially when fighting a cold. Aloha, Amanda

        Reply
  6. Loved your story. My daughter is a school teacher and she also has MS which is an autoimmune disease so she is susceptible to everything and being with kids all day is not the best atmosphere, but she loves her job. But she throws her clothes in the washer and showers everyday when she walks in the door. Her two children are now doing the same thing and I will tell you, my grandkids and my daughter have been sick a lot less since they began this. So it must be true the germs can be on anything including clothing. Your son has a beautiful smile.

    Reply
    • Hi Fellow Blogger, I’m inspired by your daughter’s dedication to her joy despite her MS. I also appreciate the confirmation that changing clothes helps to reduce cold exposures. I look forward to following your DIY blog and your focus on organizing. We can all use a little (or a lot) organization. : ) Smiles, Evelyn (Clearissa’s blog can be found at http://www.clearissacoward.com)

      Reply

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