We’ve had an amazing few days over Christmas but we’ve also had a bit of a scare too. Christmas Day and Boxing Day, even though super busy, went really well.
We had ten at ours for Christmas dinner. It was totally informal and not what we’d planned as we had four extra guests but it was so much fun and I wouldn’t change a thing. We sat and ate our dinner off our knees, the kids sat on the floor, totally chilled out.
Boxing Day itself went without a hitch too, we packed the car with presents and headed off from Manchester to Yorkshire to visit my family. Lot’s of food, chatting and catching up was amazing. The day was totally uneventful and Archie went to bed exhausted.
Until about 10:15pm when we heard him crying upstairs through the monitor. Because of his Autism, he wakes so many times through the night so we’re used to him waking with a bit of a cry. The hubby went up to him whilst I made him a drink, thinking nothing off it. Until the hubby shouted me upstairs in a panic.
Archie was struggling to breath, he was wheezing and gasping, it was horrendous. Our poor little man was so worked up, crying and coughing and heaving.
Because of his Autism he didn’t understand what was happening, he can’t tell us what was wrong. It was heartbreaking.
The ambulance was taking so long to get here, even though we’d managed to calm him down and eased his breathing a little we knew we had to get to hospital. The operator couldn’t tell us how long it was going to be, it was Boxing Day so they were inundated with calls so we grabbed some of Archie’s favourite comforters and got in the car to head to A&E.
Thankfully once we got to A&E they had the record of our call and took us straight through the children’s A&E department. We were taken through to a room for Archie to be assessed. As soon as the triage nurse came near him he started getting distressed again meaning his breathing just got worse. Thankfully she knew straight away it was a severe case of croup.
You could see his chest going concave every time he pulled in a breath. You could see his little ribs protruding with each breath. His heart was racing and he was burning up. We had definitely done the right thing getting him to A&E rather than waiting.
He’s had croup before but this time there was barely any cough, only the breathing issues so we didn’t even think of croup. We knew he needed steroids to reduce the swelling and inflammation in windpipe to help him breath easier, but we also knew it was not going to be easy to get him to take it.
We tried coaxing him, tricking him, everything we could think of but as soon as we got it in his mouth it was spat straight back out again. Again, causing his breathing to worsen. It was hell knowing what needed to be done but not being able to do it, seeing him get more and more distressed.
Autism and sensory issues have such an impact, you just don’t realise how much until you are in that situation. Our poor boy was struggling and we were struggling to help him. I’ve never felt more helpless.
Eventually we managed to calm him down enough to tempt him to have some juice from his favourite Tommee Tippee cup. I’m so glad I put it in my handbag before we left as he won’t drink out of anything else. He didn’t have the full dose but he had enough to regulate his breathing. He was still gasping and drawing in laboured breaths but at least it was steady and he was calm.
The staff were amazing, they totally understood how much they could do without distressing him too much. They left us in a private room to calm and soothe him. They allowed us to give him his medication knowing that we understood his sensory issues.
The doctors & nurses in A&E were great, we were in that room for about five hours waiting for his breathing and temperature to stabilise before we could get transferred to the ward for observation. Once up on the ward, the nurse on duty came to chat to us & reassure us. She made us coffee & toast whilst we waited for the doctor. The little gestures mean so much when you’re frantic and haven’t slept all night.
After a few more hours of observation the doctor was happy for us to be discharged. He could see that Archie’s breathing had eased when he was calm with us but worsened whenever they approached to take his vitals. The decision was that he would be better looked after by us at home. Where he could be calm and soothed, where he could be around familiar surroundings and in his own bed. At 6am we were happy to be heading home with our little man wrapped in his favourite blanket.
Like most kids with Autism, Archie really struggles with change. He doesn’t cope very well in new surroundings, with different lights and sounds. He needs familiarity to ease him, he likes his own space and his own things. The things he knows must give him a feeling of security, of safety, rather than the terrifying surroundings and goings on in a strange place like a hospital.
Thankfully after going back to bed for a few hours after a sleepless night we all woke feeling much better. My boy slept in his mummy’s bed and daddy had to get into his, but as much as he needed mummy cuddles I needed him near me too.
By lunchtime Archie was almost back to his old self. He was still withdrawn and needed lots of cuddles but his breathing was back to normal, even though he still has a cough and cold like symptoms. The steroids completely did their job and we didn’t have to worry about trying to get a second dose down him. I can’t begin to describe the relief when he wanted to play with his dinosaurs.
It’s awful when your kids are ill but it’s terrifying when it’s something serious. I’m just so glad it wasn’t too serious and he’s getting back to his cheeky little character.
If you’re worried about your child, or anyone then phone 111 straight away. They gave us some great advice and made the decision about calling the ambulance. They made some really detailed notes that helped when we got to hospital. I’m so glad we have our NHS and I’m so glad they did every they could to help our gorgeous little man.