Mostly harmless (corto) wrote,
Mostly harmless
corto

Got kids? 'member when they were like 1!!!
I have a story... but it's a wicked story, so I'm gonna start by telling you that it has a happy ending and everybody is fine - believe me this is good to know on the way into it. (no, lianna, it's not that story)

The Day Edward Stopped
(aka "Please Sir, if we go hot, don't try to keep up")

This is a story about the time my mind exploded into a ball of white hot screaming agony and I realized that I had never before properly understood fear. It's a story about breathing.
It's a story about something that happened two years ago but remains as vivid in my mind as ... as, well, it's solid - I could recount it on a second by precious second basis but that would take too long.

On a clear fall day, my boys were doing what they always do in mid-morning... sit, walk, yell, play. Except this story took place when Edward was only 9 months old, so his older brother was doing the lions' share of actual walking. Ed was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the family room floor facing the sofa - his back to the kitchen. I had just given him and his 3 year old bother, George, a few mini-m&m's. Now, nine month olds have the chubbiest legs you can imagine, so 'crossed legs' is kind'a cute ... more like a little person from the waist up and a ball of clothes and flesh from the waist down. George is sitting on the sofa a few feet away from Ed. I am in the kitchen, just off the family room. Zebra is upstairs doing "I just got up" stuff.
Ok, that's the scene. Now the action.
I'm making coffee and cannot see into the family room, but I hear the tell-tail sound of escalating tensions that usually precede brotherly smacking... Then 'whack'. I didn't see it, but I'm pretty sure, Geo gave Ed a shot with a toy. No biggy, happens all the time. It does, however, require parental "what'd ya do? Tell the truth, don't do it again, that's one" stuff. So I go out to the family room and stand over Ed, regard the Cheshire cat on the sofa, and begin. I glancingly notice that Ed is kind'a rocking back and forth, bumping my legs on the back part of 'back and forth' and he's not crying anymore.
George gets this funny look on his face.
..
He's looking down at Ed.
..
In amazing slow motion, I look down and lean forward to see Ed's upside down face.
..
His face is streaked with tears...
His mouth is locked open too wide in a silent scream...
His eyes are giant saucers of blue with tiny pin pricks of black in the center...
He is completely blue.

..
Ok, the following ninety seconds took about three hours to pass and clearly reduced the length of my life by a decade."
I drop and lay Ed backwards. I check his mouth. Nothing. I call (scream) for Zebra - she later tells me that the sound of my voice was a completely new sound, never before heard. She came very fast.
I flip Ed and give him a shot in the middle of his back...
He goes totally limp. I flip him and lift him up. I grab the phone.
911
Zebra gets to the kitchen.
Ed is now extremely gray and his lips are black... this is no exaggeration.
Hand off to Zebra - her face is a perfect display of unrestrained terror. Her baby is limp, and his head is lolling back as if not actually connected to his body by bones...
911 "My baby is not breathing, he is gray, help me..."
911 "Please hold sir..."
911 "Oh My God - Of course I will NOT hold!!!" (now, actually, what she was doing was dispatching emergency response units and the 'hold' idea was just while she pushed big red buttons somewhere.)
Zebra (yelling) "what do mean 'hold'????"
About 30 seconds have passed since I saw the funny look on Georges face.
Z is holding Ed and yelling at him to come back ... "Edward, you come back NOW, wake up, Edward, EDWARD WAKE UP"
George is screaming at me to pay attention to him... he is bawling... I grab his shoulders and have very brief moment of clarity when I tell him that mom and dad are not mad at him, but he needs to sit down and let us deal with Ed.
Somehow, we have Ed on the floor between us and I am trying mouth to mouth - we have since taken Children's CPR but at the time... no idea.
In the back of my mind I realize the phone is still between my head and shoulder and someone is yelling at me over the phone...
"SIR SIR SIR... go outside with your baby - FRONT YARD"
I grab Ed and run... as I get to my laneway I see, hear, this vehicle (a bright red little truck from the fire department... maybe an Explorer) screeching to a stop in the middle of the street and this guy explodes out of the drivers door, leaves the car running with a walki-talki in his hands barreling at me.
He grabs Ed and hits the ground.
..
Ok remember I said at the beginning that everybody is OK, right...
..
So it took about 60 seconds for this guy to get here from the moment I picked up the phone... totally awesome. In that time, Ed starting crying (this is good) and making choking noises.
Emergency dude is breathing for Ed while a fire truck, ambulance and a cop car all suddenly appear in front of my house... very cool, very fast.
..
Ed, Z, me and emergency dudes all go into the house and layout equipment on the living room floor, get Ed down to a diaper (his colour is starting to come back) and they open a few big yellow kit boxes and my living room is now looking like an operating room on ER.
I see this guy stand up with a needle in his hands doing one of those classic squirts straight up to clear air from the needle and then caps the syringe.
..
Ok, the time / space continuum returns to relatively normal proportions while they test the crap out of Ed, and talk to Z and I. He (Ed) is awake and responsive. In fact he looks pretty normal except he's crying his eyes out.
..
No, he didn't choke on the m&m.
..
The needle was some sort of steroid to shoot into Ed if his heart stops.
..
I'm still very much in pumping heart mode. At some point everybody went away except the ambulance dudes. The plan is to take Ed and Zebra to the hospital in the ambulance. They want to run tests and stuff but the emergency has passed. I can get George together and follow. They leave the house.
..
Ambulance dude comes back to the door. He looks very seriously at me and says "Please sir, if we go hot, lights-flashing, etc., promise me you won't try to keep up." I resolve at that moment to wait a solid 5 minutes before leaving... 'cause there is no phuking way in hell I would be able to not 'try to keep up' if they took off.
Many, many hours later we're home. It seems that vary rarely, but often enough that they understand it... some kids, under 3, will stop breathing - kind of a total lock-up, when they are freaked by something. In this case it was a smack from his brother... It happened again about two months later. In all cases of this - without other special circumstances - kids stop this by the time they are three.
..
The right thing to do if it seems like it was happening again was to verify that his airway was not blocked and wait a few seconds. He passes out and everything turns on again... The first time we were freaking and trying to keep him conscious. Wrong. But, crap, he was gray!

So, we have since been certified and re-certified in CPR and child CPR. We have tremendous faith in the 911 service and I get emotional when I see firemen rushing to a scene...

Sorry this took so long to tell. This is definitely one of the landmark moments in my life so far... the sort of a thing that is destined to flash before my eyes when it's all about to end.

Later LJ.
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