“I’ll meet you at the hospital!”

Scary words…as a mom, a dad, a care provider, anyone who hears these words is flooded with emotion. But I’m finding that after it’s over, there are still some steps to take in the healing of the patients caregivers!

Let me start at the beginning…my son has asthma and allergies. He seldom reacts to food, and it has always been rather mild when he has. Yesterday he walked to the store by himself and got himself some candy corn, he’s 13 and rather independent. I didn’t think to check the label because he’d had them before. Guess what? Coconut oil was one of the ingredients, and it’s his worst allergen! He didn’t react right away, he was at hockey practice when an asthma attack came on suddenly. He used his rescue inhaler, sat a bit and seemed ok. Well 15 minutes later, he vomited and got hives all over his body. Of course we had no antihistamine with us, so I grabbed him and told his dad to meet us at the hospital. Typically I’m a fan of calling paramedics on the side of caution, but we were a minute away and he was breathing just fine.

He was treated quickly with an antihistamine shot and intravenous steroids. He had to stay awhile for observation, but would be released in a couple of hours. He was back to his silly attitudinal self and I was so relieved! I sent his dad to buy some medicine to keep on hand, and told him he could settle in for the night, we would fine. Then I sat down next to my son’s bed, and that’s when it hit: he could have died. I started to hyperventilate, felt dizzy, and my chest felt tight. I was running every possible outcome in my head, in my pessimistic style, and felt overwhelmed. So here’s what I did next:

  • I took a good long look at my son. I scanned every visible inch, and when I was satisfied that he was improving, I just let myself sit with that thought for a minute: he was going to be ok. Then I hugged him.
  • I took some long and slow breaths to try to slow things down. When that didn’t work, I took out my phone for a game of solitaire-it always distracts me!
  • I talked to the doctor, asking tons of questions and admitted that I was anxious and worried, acknowledging that I was kinda freaking out. Oddly enough, this helped.
  • And then came the reflection part…did we take all the right precautions (no), how can we prevent this next time, how can we respond better, what has my son learned from this?
  • The next step I took to move through this was to lean on my family and friends…the outpouring of love and support on social media was heartwarming and helped me to refocus.
  • And when we got home and settled, I took a nap because being worried is exhausting!

So let’s remind caregivers to take care of their needs after a crisis…there’s nothing wrong with taking a break to reset after someone has been injured.

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