An evening with Croup

I had heard of Croup, but was not really aware of it as a condition. I certainly did not know there is a risk of developing a severe croup that can cause hospitalisation and is considered a medical emergency.

I’ve read the the vast majority cases of croup can be treated at home, but  I’m writing this as a warning, because I very nearly ignored the symptoms in my ignorance and had I have left it I’m not sure the story would have turned out the same.

I returned home from work after around 10pm and my husband was attending to my daughter we had all been ill and that day she had been very quite, very unlike her, she was off her food and I knew she was ill, however though it was just the same cold we had all had.

My husband mentioned M had a bad cough and I went up to see her and she seemed very distressed the thing that concerned me was her breathing. She was making loud wheezing sounds as she breathed in and out. I thought this was down to the cold but felt uneasy falling asleep myself with her breathing like this. My instinct told me something was wrong and I’m a firm believer of always trusting my instinct.

My husband also pointed out she had been excessively drooling and her sheets where soaked in drool. We both got ready for bed and I thought it might be worth googling a few symptoms particularly the noise and drooling as both of these seemed odd.

I quickly found a few articles suggesting croup and also that the symptoms she was having most articles I read suggested she should have urgent medical attention. I really dislike a and e and try my best to only go when it is a real medical emergency. I kept thinking how can this be a medical emergency she’s just got a cold.

On the article it suggested looking at the throat and seeing if the skin was being pulled in on the inbreathe, I went to check and this was happening, we then thought perhaps we should ring the 111 non emergency number just to see what they would say but fully expecting them to say everything was fine.

Once on the line the man asked if he could listen to her breathing and for me to hold the phone up to her, he placed me on hold and came back to say he wanted to call an ambulance, I paused, my first thought was no don’t be silly, she’s not that bad. but I just kept silent, I then said “ok” and awaited cuter instruction that I should keep her upright and not give her anything to eat.

My first thought was I’d better tidy up before the paramedics arrived, proving, I was not too concerned with my daughters condition. We decided to take her downstairs and then waited, just over an hour for the ambulance to arrive. In this time M began to get better or so it seemed as the loud breathing became better, although I’ve since learn this can actually be bad when after having the loud breathing (called a stridor) the breathing become quite.

In the time waiting for the ambulance I kept thinking I should cancel and they called to let me know it was on it’s way, I was still filled with guilt thinking I was wasting their time. The paramedics came in and It felt as if they were humouring us, I expected them to give me a look and say “she’s just got a cold” expecting to feel embarrassed for being a stupid mother. They performed various tests and seemed very calm. They asked for some Calpol and gave her a dose, still at this point I was waiting for the inevitable, she just needs some calpol and she’ll be fine. they then got out a nebulizer and gave her a mask with some mist, I’m not sure why it was but even at this point I was thinking perhaps this is just procedure, although started to feel a bit better as I don’t have a nebulizer and perhaps thats was what she needed. They muttered something about going to A and E but it didn’t really comprehend. Once she’d finished breathing in the air they asked if I had everything I needed to go to A and E. Still thinking this was just procedure, but starting to think maybe something was wrong. I gathered somethings and put on a different top as I still had my Pyjama top on.

We got into the Ambulance and thought it was quite cool I’d not been in an ambulance before, so it was a novel experience. I had to sit on the streacher with M on my lap. They plugged her in to some monitors and it went silent, they gave each other a look and I sensed something was wrong. they told me that M’s heart rate was higher than they would like so they would have to turn on the blue lights and notify A and E of their arrival.

We set off out of our estate and I had to provide directions, in a tired state in the dark with my back to the direction of travel. It took me a while to orientate myself. once out of the estate they turned on the lights and we sped away, it took a while to get out due to the stupid modern car free layout of our estate. The paramedic who was in the back with us called in some stats I remember there being some confusion over the pupil’s 3 comment the person on the other end of the walkie talkie kept asking if it was 3. I had no idea what that meant.

When we arrived we walked through into the emergency room where the doctors where waiting for us. They made a comment that M looked very well, adding to my insecurity that this was all just wasting time and nothing was wrong.

After laying her down they performed various tests and plugged her in to various machines and the Doctor came to a quick conclusion it was Croup, I had already suspected this myself from my earlier googling session.

She informed me it was a virus, to which I responded that so there was nothing that could be done. She said well they could give steroids which helps to open up the airways. She said she’d move her to the paediatric casualty and weigh her and give her steroids. Still everything felt serenely calm and not what you would expect from having your child in an emergency room.

We, moved to paediatrics and administered the steroids in a liquid from drunk through a cup. M was being a star patient to which the Doctors, nurses and paramedics all mentioned. Soon after the steroids M began to get better, the voice was coming back and she was bouncing around with energy. I however having not had steroids myself and no sleep was feeling less bouncy but still had to entertain my rather happy daughter. We had to wait two hours to see the effect and try to get the heart rate down. During this time I had an in-depth “why” session with my 2 year old. “why were there circles on the wall” “Why this, why that”

I was ready to go home when we were discharged 2 hours later. With a list of things to look out for once the steroids had worn off this could return, the Stridor, loosing the voice, high temp and drooling where all indications to return to A and E and over the next few days we came close a couple of times to returning. As I write this we are 4 days past and still very much monitoring the situation.

It’s pretty horrible seeing your child so helpless and sick, and not knowing, when you’re sick yourself you know how bad it is but when it’s your child you really have no idea, I guess the lesson is to trust your instinct.

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