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don't panic

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3am: don't panic

It was one of those nights. One of the nights that turn into day without any real sleep in between those moments.

We had a bit of a scare with DJ. Was so close to taking him to the hospital that I had the car running. And then I stopped. Do not panic. Do not panic. Rinse. Repeat.

It started after dinner when DJ said his heart was racing. I put my hand on his chest and sure enough his heart was going at a ferocious clip. I took it in stride. He spend most of the 100-plus-degree day outside. He played a little baseball, went swimming, ran around like a lunatic. The humidity was intense. There was an air quality warning. DJ is prone to respitory distress. Case solved.

I pulled out the nebulizer and realized we were out of Albuterol. We hadn't had to use it since the winter, so it never occurred to me to get more. I found a prescription bottle of Proventil that hadn't expired and gave him a dose of that.

That was at about 7:00. Cut to 9:00. He's pacing around the house. He's crying. He swears that he is dying. He's taking those big, sucking breaths that I take when I have a panic attack. I know the Proventil makes him a little nuts, but this is different. His face is ghost white, his hands are shaking and his heart is beating out of his chest. I know he is causing most of this distress himself by worrying about the original bout he had after dinner.

I try to get him to calm down. I rub his back, I get him a drink, we watch the Yankee game. When DJ cannot sit still long enough to watch a full inning, I know something is wrong.

He starts crying. He is sure he's going to die. We walk outside, inside, around the house, room to room. He cannot sit still. He will not lay down. I have never seen a child in such an utter state of panic. Of course, this makes me panic.

By 11pm, he is still frantic. Justin and Natalie are both sleeping. DJ and I are camping out in the living room, watching the late innings of the game. He lays next to me and I hear him deep breathing. I want nothing more than to sleep at this point. I want him to sleep.

Midnight and he is still crying. His heart is still racing. That's it, we are going to the hospital. I call my father, because I know my father will talk me out of such nonense. Bring him here, my father says. We walk across the street to my parents' house. Dad talks me out of the hospital trip.

I didnt' call my pediatrician for one simple reason: I knew exactly what he would say. He would say relax, it's just from the heat and subsequent panic when he couldn't breathe, give him some Proventil and Tylenol and he will be fine. And don't panic. Don't panic.

I would have taken DJ to the hospital for one simple reason: It would have made him feel better. He would have seen it me doing something proactive, the doctors would have soothed him (after 6 hours waiting in the emergency room, I'm sure) and it just would have dissipated his panic. Hospital visit as placebo.

But no, I took him back home. Now it's almost 12:30 a.m. My body wants to drop into a coma for the rest of the night. I find some childrens' NyQuil and give DJ a tiny bit of it. Believe me, I was eyeing that bottle of tequila on my counter as if it were a magic elixer. For both of us.

I push the two couches together, because DJ insists he can't not be more than one foot away from me or surely he will die, and I flip channels while he sucks in his breath and cried and while his heart does some wild dance inside his little body. I keep thinking that I should have gone to the hospital. I'm afraid I'll fall asleep and wake up to dead child laying next to me. Don't panic. Too late.

3am and finally DJ's eyes are heavy. We tire of the endless parade of cartoons and infommercials and the 10th repeat of Sportscenter. He finally puts his head down. He closes his eyes. His face is still pale, stained with tear trails. He looks so small. But, finally, he looks comfortable. His breathing sounds better.

He shifts, turns and lets out the hugest fart I ever heard. He giggles in his half-sleeping state. Yea, he's ok. He's fine.

Around 4am, I fall asleep. At 5am, I am up for the day. I'll probably fall asleep at my desk at some point today. After work, it's a trip to the doctor. Lesson learned: always keep fresh Albuterol in the house. And Don't Panic.

It's going to be a long one.

update: The doctor said DJ most likely became dehydrated yesterday when he insisted on staying outside in the 100 degree heat playing baseball for a few hours. The subsequent racing heart that comes with dehydration set him off into a panic (gee I wonder where he gets that trait from) and the result was a night long panic attack. Still, we are headed to the cardiologist just to rule anything out, and we've been supplied with enough Abuterol to get through any more dehydration anxiety. Drink, DJ, drink!


kids have a way of doing that. they panic making us panic and it's that whole my baby syndrome. we love them so much we hate to see them in pain.

Glad DJ is ok. I know that yucky asthma/panic attack feeling. It's so horrible to have.

dear michele,

i was in semi stressed tears running snot flowing stupid racheal when i thought that just surfing around might help. and it did. thank you so much, i don't know why that comforted but it did.

it's just been a long day and i think i just needed to be told that things were okay and that i was just stressing for shits.

thank you.