Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11: Calling 911

The date is 9/11, so I thought I’d take a moment to talk about 911.

The first time we called 911, Tillery fell off a bed at the Ronald McDonald House and had a massive bleed in her brain. She almost immediately lost consciousness and Joe ran to the lobby of the house and had them call 911. (The protocol at RMH is to call 911 from your room phone and they will know exactly where in the house you are from the number but when your child goes limp in your arms, you totally forget all rules and protocols.) Local firefighters were the closest emergency responders and took Tillery and Joe across to the hospital and straight to the trauma bay. Tillery had a seizure on the way in the arms of a fireman.

The second time we called 911 was on Valentine’s Day 2015. We had come home from Cincinnati for 10 whole days after being away from home for over 4 months. Tillery had just had her skull bone stitched back in place and was playing in the kitchen. She pulled herself up on her knees, which was a new skill she had learned, and lost her balance. She fell backwards and hit her head hard on the linoleum floor. I was home alone with both kids while Joe was having our van serviced. I called 911 and the emergency responders came and looked her over and felt she was okay but offered that they could take us to the ER if that would make me more comfortable. After the emotional nightmare we had been experiencing and having just had a major surgery on her skull, I absolutely let them take us over for a safety CT. Wonderful neighbor friends, Rick and Sarah, came and stayed with Luke while Tillery and I took a ride to the hospital.

The third time we called 911, was last summer. Tillery had been experiencing anxiety during port access for chemotherapy after having a few painful experiences in the ER. To calm her nerves, we had started giving her some anxiety medicine on chemotherapy days. That morning, as I measured out her medicines, I got the dosing crossed on her anxiety medicine and another medicine and ended up giving her a massive amount. Tillery became a ragdoll and her eyes were really droopy. Even though I knew the mistake, I feared what that overdosage of anxiety medicine would do mixed with all the other meds she was taking. Since the EMS that came to the house were not familiar with many of the 12 medicines she was on, we decided it was best to head to the emergency room and have her observed while the medicine was wearing off.

Three times we have called 911. So many other times we have discussed calling 911. Every time she falls down, I glance at a clock and time how long it takes her to calm down. Every time she says her head hurts or comes to us crying and we can’t understand why, we reach for a phone. We live on pins and needles.

Of the 3 times we have called 911, only one was an actual life or death emergency. The other two times, we weren’t sure but we were surely scared. When your child has cancer, you often jump to worst case assumptions. Let’s be honest, before our child was diagnosed with cancer, that was the worst case and it came true.

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