Every now and then the universe sends you a reminder to be thankful for the people you have in your life.
Yesterday I was sent a huge reminder.
My eldest daughter had all four wisdom teeth removed on Tuesday afternoon. It was a routine operation, she came out of the general anaesthetic without too much disorientation, seemed to be coping well with the inconvenience the local anaesthetic was having on how her tongue and lips were functioning, and went with James and I for a ‘sleepover’ with a family that we have known for many years.
Wednesday also went well, with Molly continuing to eat and drink, and the pain and inflammation meds were doing their job.
And then it all went pear-shaped on Thursday morning.
Having got up at about 5am to take a dose of tablets, Molly started to feel very unwell, and at about 7am she thought that she was going to be sick. She got out of bed to find something to vomit into, and her boyfriend, Simon, came to get us.
When I got down to the bedroom Molly was lying on the floor with her head in bin. She was jerking and not breathing.
I cannot tell you the pure panic and fear that flooded my body. There are no words to describe it, other than to say I NEVER want to be in that position again.
Every single thing I’ve ever learned about CPR left my brain. Everything except for “call the ambulance”, which I yelled out for James to do.
By the time he arrived with the phone on his ear I had turned Molly over onto her side, but she still wasn’t breathing. I knew that my brain had totally shut down and I was going to be no use to Molly in that state, so I made James give me the phone while I spoke to the operator.
I gave the operator our address and the details of the situation, and by the time she started asking me about Molly’s current state of health James had done the head tilt and open mouth part of the DRSABCD and Molly had, thankfully, mercifully, wonderfully, started breathing on her own again. But she wasn’t conscious, and we still needed the ambulance to come. Once we had established that Molly was really breathing on her own, the operator (the wonderful, calm, experienced, brilliant operator) rang off and left me to guide the ambulance into the house. I have no idea what they did in that room – there was barely enough space for the three of them and Molly – so Simon and I waited in the sunroom while James watched the ambos do their thing.
When I heard them ask Molly to sit up, my heart leapt, and when she got up and walked unsteadily to the ambulance, it sang.
James went in the ambulance to Frankston Hospital and Simon and I had something to eat and I had a shower. This sounds odd I know, but I also put on a slow-cooked chicken curry before we left! Based on our experience on Tuesday I was in no mood to get home and cook dinner after spending the whole day in the hospital!
In the end, we were home again in time for lunch. The doctors and nurses at Frankston Hospital took over from the Vic Ambo crew, and cared for Molly brilliantly. Their diagnosis was that Molly had suffered a vasovagal incident – that is, the nerve that controls breathing and swallowing in the throat stopped functioning as it should – it had shut down in fact – and that was why she stopped breathing. They were also quite mystified as to why Molly hadn’t been told to take the pain and inflammation meds on a full stomach. This is a question I will be asking the Epworth, the surgeon and the pharmacist!
The Frankston Hospital staff were very calm about the whole thing, but I have to tell you, I have been less than calm over the last few days.
What keeps going through my head is “What if Simon hadn’t stayed over?” What if Molly had been in her bedroom, with the door shut, and got up to be sick and collapsed on the floor – and we hadn’t heard any of it? Would she have started breathing again on her own? Or would we have lost her?
I feel like this is going to haunt me for a while. Damn, we were so lucky. We are so lucky.
But most of all I am grateful: to Simon for coming to get us; to the ambos; to the hospital staff; to our litigation-happy society that means that we get trained in CPR every year; and to whatever it was that made all of that possible.
Be grateful people.
Sometimes, you aren’t fully aware of what you are blessed with until its existence is threatened.
And, for your enjoyment, is a video of Molly telling us a story about being in post-op while eating jelly. You’re welcome.