Thursday, October 22, 2009

8 pairs of firemen's boots

8 pairs of firemen's boots on my softwood floor at 5am.

The irony of a shoeless house isn't lost on me, even now, in the midst of Reuben continuously coughing up blood from his trach, too much blood, more than the usual trace we get every week when we change his trach.

It's strange the things that come into your head when you're in the midst of something very frightening.

I am uneasy when I go to bed on Wednesday night upon noticing the amount of blood which seems to be increasing by the hour and ask Jenn in her immense diligence to wake us up should the blood not subside. Nursie Jenn has been looking after him all night and by 5am she wakes us up for the second time, I yell for an ambulance to be called and within minutes the firemen are here, followed quickly by the paramedics. I am thinking terrible, frightening things whilst suctioning the gurgling red trach and am emotionally overwhelmed. Jenn has kept a record of his bloody secretions throughout the night and I find it horrific: a line of red gauzes against a timeline (she is extraordinarily efficient).

There are 3 fire engines with blazing lights illuminating the street and the living room is full of the 8 firemen and paramedics with their 8 pairs of boots, there not being enough room for the men to get into Reuben's bedroom down the hall with all their paraphernalia.

Reuben goes in the ambulance and must be thinking all the firemen and trucks have come out especially to see him, give him a fun ride and help improve his firefighting vocabularly. He is thus mesmerised at the experience and easily charms the men with his good nature and temperament and the men show a keen interest in his history, courage and intellect.

So last week I was thanking the Culver City emergency services and this week it's the Westchester crews. They once again did a great job of getting to the heart of the matter with compassion, finding humour under a blanket of fear, even if the complexities of trach care are not their area of expertise and getting Reuben safely to hospital in the ambulance. I think our days of driving Reuben ourselves at times like are behind us. It's just too risky.

By late morning, Reuben is seeing the Ear, Nose & Throat attending Dr within the emergency room, and Reuben's trach is pulled out momentarily to allow her to insert a scope to determine the cause of bleeding. Her examination confirms there is no obvious ulceration, and it is likely a result of coughing from increased secretions and resultant suctioning. Reuben is thus discharged. Driving up to UCLA hospital to pick them up, a stone's throw away from where he would ordinarily be at his gorgeous early intervention school late this morning, I'm reminded of the scale of the UCLA campus, like a city in itself with its own police and fire crews, and feel very strange as I look into the back seats, bereft of my boys, as Nursie Fanaye kindly looks after Callum for me at home. There is never any drop Reuben off at school and go home routine for me; Callum and I are with him every day on the merry-go-round of appointments and I wouldn't have it any other way.

And so this incident comes at the end of a week of multiple events:
1. Callum's choking incident and coughing up blood necessitating an ambulance to UCLA hospital ER on Thursday;
2. Reuben's UCLA hospital ER visit due to his skin breaking down and bleeding under his trach ties on Tuesday, the hospital being just down the road from his school and the positive visit thus facilitating our decision to transition Reuben's care to University College LA;
3. Callum's first visit to the dentist also on Tuesday to remove a splinter lodged in his top gum, no doubt deposited from his teething on a bedframe or something else unsavoury; and
4. This terrifying incident of blood gushing from Reuben's trach stoma.

I feel we're sometimes riding on a state of long term heightened alert, which indeed is difficult to sustain.

Reuben is home now and is left with fading memories of his early dawn adventure, reminded only by the firefighter sticker still lingering on his sticky shirt and the 8 sets of footprints on my floor which catch my eye this evening.


Sara, Julianne and Rachel said...

You have been through it this week! Glad all is well now though. How come the firemen came as well? Is that routine over the pond?
Huge hugs to all of you xxxx

Leslie, Arlin and Katie Kauffman said...

Catherine, what a week you have had! So glad both your boys are OK. How scary.

Kristi said...

Catherine, what a crazy, terrifying week. At the same time, what a glorious developmental week for both boys. Such a yin and yang, isn't it?

Glad everyone is okay... but for the scars on your mamaheart.

(Preston would have LOVED seeing those 8 pair of fireman boots!)

Crystal M. said...

Wow what a week, I am glad he is ok and everyone is home, I also LOVE all the new pics with the dog very cute.
Crystal and Eva

Justin and Victoria Nelson said...

hey catherine,
i just wrote an email to you asking questions about reu but i just caught up on everything here. no need to write back with answers. im so sorry for all that has gone on this past week.
have you transferred absolutely all of reuben's medical needs to ucla? i remember talking to you about doing this when it came to moriah's care. ha. instead. we just moved up to northern california.
anyway, much love to you guys.
victoria (and justin)