I sit awake.
I am the last one in the house who hasn't fallen asleep, and my mind just continues to replay the events of the last few days. I have tried all sorts of things to calm myself and as a last resort I am turning back to my writing as a form of therapy.
So here goes...
Raeleigh nearly died and God saved her.
It was a normal spring break day. We got up to go to the dentist to get our twice a year family cleaning. This is a big ordeal since we schedule all of our appointments together...it truly is a family affair. It took a few hours to get all 4 of us worked through. The girls and I made a quick trip to the exotic animal store for mill worms and crickets for toothless, our bearded dragon. Then on the way home I swung through Bush's to get the girls 2 tender rolls, gravy and fries. I had lunch in the fridge at home.
We intended to have a picnic, but decided it was too windy once we got home,so everyone just ate inside. I had finished my black bean soup, Reese had finished and gone to play, and Rae was still at the kitchen bar nibbling away at her meal. I was tired so I laid down on the couch.
About 4 or 5 minutes later Raeleigh came in to tell me she was itching. Now we have had a few rounds of mild hives from an unknown food allergy but they had always been just that, mild. I had anaphalaxis as a child, and my attacks were never life threatening either. Usually just a dose of Benadryl and all was well.
Raeleigh is super diligent about letting us know if she suspects she is breaking out, and I am so very grateful for that. However, to be honest, it kinda leads to me taking it less seriously because of all the false alarms. So I call her over to take a look and she does indeed have 2-3 whelps and I tell her I will get the Benadryl in just a second.
I get up off the couch to go grab the benadrly and we are out. We do have Claritin for children (her sister takes that every day) so I give her a dose of that. By this time the whelps have spread and it is turning into full-body hives. I take her to the couch to cuddle thinking that all will pass in a few minutes. When we get to the couch she just starts crying and saying how badly it itches. I try to calm her but she becomes more and more panicked and agitated. Then she begins to vomit. I yell to sister to bring the trash can and Rae vomits what had to have been almost the entirety of her stomach contents. I jump up and tell her we need to go get a bath. She says, "Mommy I can't, I feel like I am going to die". I say "Baby you have to you are covered in throw up."
I walk to the bathroom to get the water started, and I hear her whimpering behind me. I turn to help her undress and she loses consciousness and falls to the floor hitting her head on the door frame on the way down.
At this point I realize that this is not her run-of-the-mill mild reaction; this was something altogether different. I swoop her up in my arms and yell to Reese to call 911. Reese freaks and starts running around screaming looking for my cell phone. I take Rae into the kitchen and she wakes up and says "I'm ok mommy". I take a sigh of relief and set her down on the floor to get a towel to wash her face. She faints again. She is in her panties because she was about to take a bath so I yell to Reese to find her some close we have to go to ER. At this point Reese brings me my cell phone and is trying to call dad, but she entered the number wrong and doesn't know how to delete errors on my cell. I tell her to put it down and just go get clothes for Rae. I am thinking we can drive to hospital faster than ambulance can get to us so that was my plan. I grab the epipen (thank GOD it was above the stove) inject her, and call Jason. I told him Rae had a reaction, it was bad, I gave her epi and we are going to hospital, he says ok and I hang up. Then it starts...
Rae is sitting on bar in kitchen and collapses again but this time it is more than just fainting. Her body is lifeless, no muscle tone, her pupils are dilated, she is vomiting but her teeth are clinched closed...she is drowning in her own vomit. I pick up the house phone and dial 911.
While giving specifics to the operator I realize Rae has completely stopped breathing (her airway is completely blocked). I turn her on her side and pry her teeth open. She is clenching so tightly that I have to go all the way back behind her molars to the small space between gums and get my fingers through there and work then up across her teeth to the front of her mouth. Once I get under her incisors I pry open the mouth and clean out her mouth. But it isn't enough. She still isn't breathing. I scream at the 911 lady to hurry please hurry, and I do what any mother would do. I pry her mouth open once more and clear her airway as deep as I can with my fingers. I was so afraid I was hurting her. I felt like I was being so rough with her tiny little body but there was no option. I had to be rough or she would die. So I clear her out as deep as I can reach but still nothing. Her chest isn't moving. She still isn't breathing. I drop the phone and I start breathing for her. One breath...pause...two breaths...pause....my mind is racing. What if I am hurting her worse. I am not formally CPR trained. I know the jist of it, but I am not confident in my ability to administer it. What if I am forcing the vomit into her lungs?
But I made my decision and I was just going to have to stick with it. There was nothing else that could be done. I pry her jaw open again, clear her airway with my finger and third breath...pause. Then it silently hits me.
THERE IS NOTHING ELSE I CAN DO!
I cannot save my child.
There she is on the kitchen counter covered in hives and vomit and I can't do anything for her. I have used all the tricks in my very small bag and she still isn't ok...what can I do? What can I do? andI realize.
I can do nothing....
But God can.
So I just stop. "Be still and know that I am God" is whispered to my spirit and I just pray. I pray healing, I pray breath, I pray consciousness over my daughter. I proclaim that by the blood of Jesus whatever is afflicting her will be cast out. And I pick up the phone.
I calmly ask, "Are you still there?", I ask and the operator replies with a "yes".
I roll Rae to her back and there it is. Her chest is moving. SHE IS BREATHING. I scream to the operator, "SHE"S BREATHING".
She tells me to tilt her head back to keep her airway open and asks if she is conscious. She was semiconscious. I would call her state catatonic. She didn't breathe for about a minute so I was terrified if she would ever really come back to me.
Reese comes in crying. She doesn't want her sister to die. I tell her to lay her hands on Rae and pray. So she does.
I start trying to talk to Rae. She is breathing and her eyes are open but there is no muscle tone in her body, her pupils are dilated, her eyes are rolled back and she isn't responding to anything. I pop her cheeks softly to see if it elicits a response, and nothing. So I just keep talking. She slowly starts to breath deeper and deeper. And Reese gets real close and calls her name.
PRAISE BE TO GOD...Rae raises her head focuses her eyes on Reese and lays back down. The voice of her big sister was the first thing she would respond to. Such a sweet testament to the power in that bond.
This is good. She lays her head back down and swallows a few times. I am thinking now, was I so rough that I hurt her voice box? Can she talk? So I ask her if she can talk and she nods her head no. but now she is responding to speech. So Reese and I just keep talking to her. The lady tells me EMTs are getting close...It has been 5-7 minutes by this point so I holler at Reese to put the dogs up and open the garage door.
I just keep talking to Rae. She finally answers a question with a small lil grunt so I know she can at least make some sort of a noise now.
Then I hear the first round of angels. It is the China Spring VFD. There were at least 2 of them. I hang up with 911. I don't remember much, but I remember a sweet older man who told Rae she could call him poppy or pops or something like that. She finally starting replying to us in words but she was still unable to move anything other than her head and neck. EMT's arrive next. They very quickly start hooking Rae up to oxygen, taking my statement and taking her vitals. I never let go of her head. I just couldn't.
The sweet VFD man was the first to see her feet. I didn't realize at the time because I was so absorbed in her from the neck up, but her ankles were so discolored and mottled that it looked like they both had just been seriously sprained. I am guessing this was from lack of oxygen.
It is clear by now that she is stable so EMTs load her onto the gurney. Her tiny body was like a limp noodle as they moved her from the counter top.
I couldn't ride with her because I had Reese. This was so super hard, but I had to let them take her without me. They told me they would be riding with lights and sirens and that I could follow them, I handed Rae her favorite stuffed animal and placed her in their care. So they take her out and I grab shoes and a sweater and Reese and I are out the door.
I had heard sirens so I assumed they were already ahead of us. So we fly past all the emergency vehicles still in our driveway and book it to Hillcrest. My car had wings that day.
While I was on with 911 operator Reese had tried to call Jason on cellphone and was struggling so 911 lady volunteered to call him. He was waiting for us at hospital but knew no details. In the chaos I didn't know who I had told what. SO I called the pastor and told him the quick story and asked him to get a prayer chain started. Unfortunately Jason learned about the seriousness of the episode from that email. I didn't realize that I had not yet told him she passed out and quit breathing.
When I arrived at the hospital I saw him sitting right outside the ER. I walked to him as quickly as I could and asked how she was...what he answered shook me to my core. She wasn't there.
I heard them leave?
I didn't pass them...how was she not there?
My on edge brain started going berserk!
We run in and talk to lady at the desk. They haven't gotten a call from any ambulance coming in. Rae is lost.
Jason has the number of the person who called him so he calls it back... he is on hold for what seems like forever and then I hear him say, "Ok, so 15 minutes away?".
She is on her way. Then I realize what must have happened. That ambulance I heard must have been replying to a second call and Rae must have been in the ambulance in my driveway that I blasted past. So very scary for a few minutes. But she arrived just fine.
Once at the hospital they administered another shot op epi and some steroids. Poor Rae looked miserable. She just kept shaking from all the adrenaline and her whole body was blood red.
Once I got face to face with a doc and laid out everything that happened, they admitted her.
I was so afraid that the food allergy had somehow triggered a second underlying condition. The seizure seemed epileptic to me. I had NEVER heard of anaphylactic shock causing an seizure and the admitting doctor hadn't either. It was only after research that we discovered that all of her symptoms were from the allergy. The vomiting, the loss of consciousness and the seizure can all be symptoms of extreme anaphylactic shock.
So here we are 2 days post incident and I can't rest. Sleep alludes me. My brain keeps replaying it over and over skipping a beat on all the what ifs...
What if this happened at school? We hadn't even taken an epi pen up there because her attacks had never been severe
What if I had gone with my first instinct and put her in the car?....I Could not have gotten her breathing again
What if that epipen hadn't been above the stove?...I don't even really know why it was there and the second one was with our meds in bathroom...what if I had to have gone looking for it???(by the way...it was expired...it was by the grace of God that it still worked)
What if we didn't get that landline and my cell kept dropping the 911 call like it does every other call?
What if she would have been with strangers who weren't willing to give cpr through her vomit?
What if I had fallen asleep and didn't respond fast enough????
I know the answer...I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW that God made sure everything was as it should be so lil Rae could live. And I thank him for that.
Please continue to join me in prayer to cast out whatever ailment led to this episode. I pray for healing for Rae.
We will be heading to her school Monday morning to get an action plan in place and educate them on her condition. A visit to the allergist will also be next week. (She has to be off Benadryl for at least 5 days to even be tested at allergist.) And in the meantime I will be trying to remember to "Be still and know that [He] is God" and get some sleep and calm my mind and stop my heart from racing without my permission. Because God is good all the time and all the time God is good!
I write this to help myself move past that day but also for anyone else out there who has experienced anaphalactic shock with vomiting and seizures. I never knew before that this could even happen. So I hope that this may help someone else out there looking for answers. I also write this because there are some amazing people that The Stolle family owes a HUGE thanks to...
China Spring VFD
ETMC 911 operator and EMTs
Rae's big sister for all her help and heroics (needless to say we had a cell phone lesson that very night)
My sisters, Megan and Jackie, who drove all the way from East Texas to spend the night with us in the hospital and help keep Rae entertained and distracted (me too)
Robert and Carol Stolle for taking Reese that night
My mom and Dad who helped to keep me grounded and calm
Jeff Wyers for making that first plea for prayer and for being Rae's first visitor at the hospital
and EVERYONE who covered our family in prayer
I have no doubt that the power of prayer is a big reason why we are all still blessed with Rae's sweet smile and spirit.
I love you all and I pray you never have to experience anything like this, but if you do remember to "Be still and know that [He] is God".