Earlier this summer, my Independence Day holiday weekend ended with a trip to the emergency room (ER) in the early morning hours of July 5. Good news, the patient is now doing well! And fortunately, it was not a fireworks malfunction that sent us there. We have had close calls with sparklers and now know better. The culprit was a respiratory virus that landed my 18-month-old in the ER. Once she was assessed, received a breathing treatment, and had an hour of monitoring to confirm improved respiration, I started thinking about how we ended up there and the interesting connection this visit had to my work as President & CEO of the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).
Friday July 1, she came home from daycare with a bit of a runny nose. She spent most of the weekend playing happily but was not herself come Monday. After a few restless hours of sleep, I felt we should head to the ER. Past experiences with her sisters’ respiratory viruses taught me to trust my gut when it comes to breathing difficulties.
As a mom of seven, there are not many common illnesses that have not passed through the Howard house at one time or another. Along the way, I have learned tricks on how to give baby medicine through a syringe and actually get them to take it (give a little puff of air in their face and their swallow reflex will kick in and they will swallow the medicine), manage a fever, calm a cough, and other ways to relieve common occurrences experienced by children when they are not feeling well. Generally, these tricks work and the patient is back to themselves in a few days. But every now and then, a visit to the pediatrician or ER becomes necessary. In some very scary circumstances, you leave the pediatrician’s office in an ambulance or the community hospital your child was admitted to decides she needs to be Life Flighted to a major academic center. I can tell you there are no tricks to prepare Mom or Dad for those moments.