Night of the Living Croup

With the recent weather change (from heat indices of 115 to a balmy 78) in a matter of days, poor Matthew’s respiratory system has just revolted and is now gushing tons of green matter from both nostrils. The night I was away at the bar exam, Matthew and Chris spent a few hours fighting off another episode of the croup.

Matthew, like Brandon at his age, just can’t handle the sudden changes in temperature and he gets “croupy” at night. “Croupy” means it starts out with a runny nose, little bit of a cough, and then suddenly when you least expect it, like at 2:30 am, he’s gasping for air and turning blue.

Luckily for Matthew, we went through this with Brandon, and now Matthew gets a multitude of medications before bed, a rub down with Vick’s and the humidifier on high all night. I can’t imagine the buzz the poor kid gets from all the competing medications, but it works and he’s generally able to sleep through the night or at least until the medication wears off, and we’re always ready to re-dose when needed. If that doesn’t work, there’s always the shower steam and then immediately outside to the cool air. That actually seems to work.

Brandon, however, was forced to deal with an inexperienced, panicky mother the first time he had croup. He was about 18 months old and Chris was off at camp, so it was just the two of us at the house. About 2:30 one morning, I heard gasping coming from Brandon’s room and I jumped out of bed and ran in there. He just couldn’t get any air and was making this horrible gasping, barking noise. I ran with him back into my room, where I had the bright idea of calling his doctor. At home. At 2:30 in the morning. The conversation went something like this:

(Sleepily) “Hello?”

(Frantic) “Doctor, thisisBrandon’smomhecan’tbreathelisten!”

(Puts phone up to gasping child and then grabs the receiver back) “What do I do?”

(Very calmly)”Okay, he has the croup. You need to take him to the emergency room and ask for a breathing treatment. I want to see him in the morning.”

(Less frantic) “OKAY!” (Click)

I throw on some clothes, grab my keys and rush to the emergency room at our small local hospital. There are no other cars in the parking lot, but there is a security guard standing outside the door. As I’m taking Brandon out of his car seat (he’s no longer gasping, by the way), I notice that the security guard (who has not even ventured over to help me) is watching two cats fight in the parking lot. I walk past him carrying Brandon, and he never stops watching the screeching, flailing cats.

The emergency room workers were very helpful, even though the nurse on staff tried to take Brandon’s blood pressure, but couldn’t figure out how to put a cuff on an 18-month old. He had a breathing treatment and we were home within 45 minutes. Brandon slept peacefully the rest of the night, and I laid awake listening to him breathe. Brandon was plagued with croup every time the weather took a dramatic change, but we learned the warning signs and were able to circumvent trips to the emergency room. Matthew’s faired better since we know the warning signs and now we’re very close to a top-notch children’s hospital in case he needs one. They probably don’t even have cats fighting in the parking lot.


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