Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and just get really excited about going for a drive? Me neither. Especially when it’s 1:00 AM and that drive is to the closest hospital.
Flashback to a few nights ago, I’m upstairs almost asleep when I hear M start crying in his bedroom. Lucky for me, Curtis made his way to the room before I even managed to swing the covers off of myself, not even a minute later he called me downstairs. Baby M was crouched over on his bed coughing and barking like a seal into his pillow. To me it sounded like there was either something lodged in his throat or like he was trying to hold back some vomit. Curtis rushed to grab a bowl just in case there was about to be a Code V in the bedroom and I turned on my phone’s flashlight in an attempt to take a look at his throat. This is where my poor little man started begging for medicine to stop all of the coughing, my number one clue that something is very wrong is when he asks for medicine…which he usually detests. I was trying to stay calm and asked him to take a deep breath but he couldn’t seem to get one in. I flew upstairs for a sweatshirt and then suited him up in his winter jacket while Curtis put his shoes on. We were going to the hospital.
Despite the fact that my back, hips and everything else have left me borderline crippled lately, I picked that boy up and flew out the door with him. In the truck on the way to the hospital I explained to him that we were going to see a doctor so he could stop coughing and frantically asked him question after question to keep him talking to me. Nothing has ever panicked me more than that little boy telling me he couldn’t get a big breath in.
What we learned at the hospital:
After the mad dash to the hospital, we were greeted by some lovely ladies working the late shift and with no one else really in there we were seen right away. Little man had croup.
Now, I had never heard of croup or heard the phrase “a croupy cough” until this night which is why I went full blown crazy Mama bear on the situation. It’s also a big reason why I am sharing this story, because if I can spread the word about this menacing little cold then maybe I can help spare some other parents the panic that I went through.
Croup is a viral infection which causes your child to cough and their airways to constrict into an hourglass shape, which you can imagine makes it difficult to get air into their lungs. The constriction of the airways is what causes the “seal like” noise that comes between (or sometimes during) coughs. Croup can hide itself for a few days, mocking the typical cold symptoms of a runny nose or light cough, before it shows itself. While most bouts of croup are harmless, in some cases it can be life threatening so it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect your child has croup.
Treatment depends on the level of severity. In some situations a breathing treatment might be given to your child to help them get oxygen into their lungs. My son did not have to get this, instead he was given a steroid shot (or a pokey shot as he calls it) to help keep his airways open. He was also given a prescription for oral steroids and we were instructed to go see his pediatrician as soon as the medicine is gone. Other things you can do to help include placing a cool mist humidifier in their bed room at night, sitting in a bathroom full of steam and spending some time in the cold outdoors during the day.
Croup is contagious, from what I have read and been told it spreads most easily between children ages six months to three years old. There is no surprise that it comes around during cold and flu season, meaning the time of the year that you are most likely to see croup is between Fall and Winter. Preventing croup from spreading from child to child is mostly just reliant on active hand washing, keeping a little bit of distance between your child and others when possible, and making sure your child covers their mouth when they cough.
Despite the fear that I felt before we got to the hospital, my son kept everything lighthearted for the majority of his time there. He wasn’t very happy about having to take off his basketball shirt to put on the hospital clothes and he also wasn’t very fond of the nurses after he got his shot. However, he calmed down and we spent some time playing games and singing the ABC’s while they monitored him for a bit. Once it was time to leave, one of the women there brought him a sucker and a couple toy cars to take home. Once he was in better spirits he told them that it was okay that they gave him a pokey shot but he didn’t want another one, then he thanked them for making him better and we left.
A little extra information if your little ever gets the steroid shot to treat croup, it gives them a big boost of energy. Despite the fact that we went to the hospital at 1:00 AM and returned home around 4:00 AM, he was wide awake. With my need to monitor his breathing throughout the night, I placed him in bed with me which was an awful idea. He was ready to watch cartoons and chit chat, all while I was barely holding my eyes open and desperately counting down the hours until I had to be up for work…
For more information on croup check out Kid’s Health.