Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Transparent Moment; Watching your child die

In the middle of my Preschool Series: Choosing a Preschool, Nut Allergy in Tow, I was presented with this article (thank you Christina!). Please read it and some of the comments that spawned from it (at the bottom of the article) and then continue on...

Have you ever witnessed your child dying?

He clung to my husband's neck, desperately, pleading with his eyes...Daddy, please help me breathe.

The very first time it happened we got the call the day we brought our younger son home from the hospital, 3 weeks shy of our oldest turning 2.  "Kadyn is struggling to breathe. We think he might have put something up his nose that is now obstructing his airway. We're going to take him to Urgent Care (closer than the ER)."

My husband raced to the Urgent Care to meet them while I stayed home with our newborn son. After a series of tests determining there wasn't an object obstructing his breathing, yet having an O2 level of 61% and the inability to get a reading on my son's lungs, the Dr determined it must be pneumonia.

My husband called me with the news.

I was screaming in to the phone. NO! He isn't sick. He wasn't sick. It is NOT pneumonia. Despite my plea, they were prepping him for x-rays to determine the type and severety of pneumonia all the while wasting precious seconds of my son's life.

My little boy clung to my husband's neck, desperately, pleading with his eyes as if to say Daddy, please help me breathe. His breathing quick, shallow, and gasping all at the same time. His nose had ceased to function...there was no air coming or going. When he tried to talk, his voice was inrecognizable as his own. He limply lay in my husband's lap, his face ghost-like in whiteness, the normal exuberance g.o.n.e.

Fortunately (praise God!) he had a button up shirt on...the only reason x-ray tech asked my husband to take my son's shirt off. And what possibly could be what saved his life.

As soon as my son's shirt came off, my husband was clearly able to diagnose him himself. IT'S AN ALLERGIC REACTION! He screamed. The blistering hives covered his little body. In some parts it was so severe the lumps were purple, the size of raised quarters. How the Doctor missed this during intake is beyond me.

What happened next is all a blur of quick reaction and life-saving efforts.

Until that point we had no idea our son had a life threatening allergy to most tree nuts. We are so grateful it happened when it did and not out in the middle of nowhere camping; no medical support in sight. So grateful for the quick response of those caring for him to take him right to Urgent Care. So grateful that he had a button up shirt on. So grateful he's beginning to recognize his allergy for what it is, knows the seriousness of it, and understands that it's okay to be different. So grateful that foods are labeled as safe or unsafe so we can begin to teach him (someone had commented on Facebook the other day "I think it's ridiculous that things like rice need to be labeled with food allergies...it's rice." If you don't have to look for those labels in protection of life, you don't understand their importance.) So grateful that he's alive. And...

We are so grateful that we found a preschool that is willing to work with us on this.

I was saddened at reading this article, not only because it angered me at the parent's response to publically protest by picketing but also because I can understand how it seems extreme to parents that don't have to deal with life-threatening food allergies. To an extent I get both sides; really, I do.

What really gets me though, the entire purpose of the whole post I've written, is in regards to the comments after the article...all 31 pages of them. I was appalled at some of these comments that followed the article. APPALLED. To say that the child in this article must be homeschooled is absurd; just like all the references to "some parents can only afford to feed their kid peanut butter" not everyone can afford to live off of one income and homeschool their children. To say that this child should be kept in a bubble? How dare you. To say that I'm a bad parent for sending my child to such an unsafe environment and out of my protection? Who are you to judge. To say that it's ridiculous to rely on prayer? God is bigger than that. We are fully aware that the next time it happens he may have even less time, will require an epipen, and e.v.e.r.y second will count. But we're striving to do our best, give him the best, and teach love and acceptance of everyone. And we will continue to be prayerful the entire way.

Despite all of this, I will have grace and recognize that until someone has watched the early stages of death, they wouldn't, and couldn't understand.


  1. Wow. I could barely read this. So heart-wrenching.


    P.S. I really like your subtitle to your blog...without apologies.

  2. Oh my word! Those comments are outrageous! So inconsiderate. Clearly they haven't really put themselves in that situation before! Personally, I'm paranoid when it comes to protecting kids with allergies in my classroom! The responsibility that goes along with that is HUGE, but not something to protest! It's our responsibility as teachers to accommodate children with any type of special need no matter how inconvenient it may feel in that moment, it's worth it in the long run. I can't imagine the stress a parent with a child with severe allergies deals with on a daily basis. Making small adjustments in our classroom is the least we can do. Greta, you are a great mom and an amazing advocate for your boys! I hope that you never have to deal with crazy schools and parents.

  3. There was a documentary on "peanut allergies" and the school system after a young girl died because the cafeteria lady used tongs that touched peanuts to pick up the fries the young girl ordered for lunch. It's an extreme but the fact that these allergies are a life and death matter shouldn't in any sense be taken lightly. I agree, the comments are outrageous and just ignorant and unfortunately it's this kind of ignorance that puts our kids in danger.

    I have lots of friends who are allergic to nuts and kids of friends who can't even touch nuts so I understand and fully comprehend the danger around this post. I'm so glad you posted this - awareness is a step in the right direction in teaching others.

  4. Your boys are so blessed to have such great parents! I'm proud of you for your perspective and your grace!! There is nothing more stressful than worrying for your kids' lives ... our story is so different but it's amazing how many similar emotions there are.

  5. what an amazing story! did you ever do any allergy testing prior to this moment? After hearing this, I'm wondering if this is something I should do now...?

  6. Hello follower #100! This is one of those powerful posts that is hard for me to read because it hits too close to home. Thank you for sharing it.

    (Btw, I gave you a Twitter shout out, just for being #100, since you mentioned it!)

  7. I think I held my breath the whole time I read this post. I can only begin to imagine what it would be like to see that your son needs help but not be able to help him.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. ah, so brutal. how amazing is a parents intuition? (especially with the help of the holy spirit!!) some of those comments you referred to are horrific and so insensitive, although i must admit that it *would* be hard for me to not send my kids to school without ever having pb sandwiches. but it's reminders like this that we need. i would NEVER want my convenience to put another child at risk!!! and i totally agree, how dare people suggest that an allergy should be cause to homeschool your kids. not cool at all. that is simply ridiculous. well friend, you are brave parents and you're doing an amazing job. thanks for sharing about this important issue.

  9. Wow! What a very scary ordeal. Just terrifying!
    And what crazy, rude comments. Geez. I swear, some people just dont think. How rude!

  10. Wow, how scary!

    Those are horrible comments though. Kept in a bubble? What?

  11. Hello, I have a quick question for you about your site. If you could please get back to me at your earliest convenience I would greatly appreciate it. Have a great day!

    Dan Gilbert
    Marketing Support Coordinator
    Primrose Schools

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