As mentioned previously, I struggle with certain anxieties. One of the anxieties that crops up every time we take a trip is the fear of travel, or rather, the extreme dread of travel. If I’m alone, I’m not as nervous, but travelling with my family provides an extra layer of elements that I am responsible for, and can’t duck out at any moment if things get difficult emotionally. They need me to be strong, even when I don’t feel like it. I also worry about the wellness of my family. It worsened when I found out I would be a father, the entire process of pregnancy and the birth of my first child was very taxing for me emotionally. I was so concerned about the birth process and what if something went wrong etc. Fortunately, it didn’t. Everything has always been fine.
This past week, I went to New York City to attend my brother’s graduation from Albert Einstein School of Medicine. He is now Jeremiah Hinson, M.D., P.H.D. We decided we would drive, it seemed to make more sense for the kids. This involved driving through Manhattan, into Brooklyn.
So the plan was set, I had loaded the directions into my iPhone GPS App, and preloaded the maps. The first 8 hours of the trip smoothly. It was only until we came out of the Holland Tunnel and into Manhattan that my GPS decided to go out. After that, I unknowingly missed my turn, and got lost in Manhattan with no GPS assistance. We couldn’t get a signal to download the map data. One of my fears was being realized, but I wasn’t falling apart…instead, I just did what had to be done…I began making guesses at what route to take to get me back to where I initially got lost, and in the flurry of honking horns and city traffic, I made my way back, and then the GPS came back online and led us to where we were staying. I should also note here that our route was detoured several more times — I’m glad I live where I live.
Little did I know, that was the tip of the iceburg for my fears being realized.
The next day we got up, made breakfast, and took a walk down to the ferry which we took down the river to play in the park and get pizza. After that, the girls rode a carousel which was rehabbed from Coney Island and placed by the river. It was a very nice time.
We got home and I got Hannah to bed while Meagan took Norah. She was jumping on the bed and playing just like normal. We read books together and I closed the door for her to take her nap.
10 minutes later my dad goes into the room to lay down and she was standing up with vomit all over her, and was very disoriented. My mom comes in and takes her to the bathroom to get cleaned up, then Meagan comes in to comfort and help her. She was still very tired and disoriented, but she also had a very busy day, so nothing was seriously out of the ordinary. Then she started drifting off, looking up at the ceiling.
My mother asked Jeremiah to come and look at her, thinking it was nothing he started joking with her, but was alarmed when she wasn’t responding. My dad told me she had thrown up, so I came upstairs to see how she was doing. When I knelt down to talk to her, she didn’t respond to me. I asked her what my name was and she didn’t respond. I joked with her, tickled her and tried to look in her eyes…still nothing.
That’s when we knew for sure that something was wrong.
We decided we would take her to the ER. Jeremiah was going to drive so we grabbed some of her clothes, her favorite dolls and headed out the door.
An insignificant detail that I can’t get out of my mind: As we were crossing the street to get in the car, Meg dropped Alice, Hannah’s favorite doll. It sat in the street until I came around to the other side. That doll in the street was a pitiful image. The favored toy, meaningless without a lively child to love it…something about that image sticks with me.
When we got her in the car seat, Hannah started to lose color, as we were getting her in her seat we noticed her lips had turned blue, so Jeremiah called 911 while we tried to get her to breathe deeper.
911 told us to lay her on her side, so we put her blanket on hood of the van and I held her in place until the ambulance arrived. She fell asleep as soon as I laid her down. She was breathing and her vital signs were fine, so all we could do was wait.
It couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before they were on our street.
They pulled out the stretcher and got Hannah in the ambulance. She didn’t wake up, she didn’t respond. They put an oxygen mask on her, and she didn’t resist. They pricked her foot to get her glucose levels, and she twitched, she curled up because it was cold in the ambulance, then she fought them with the IV. She was still incoherent, but she was moving, which was a good sign. After the IV was in, she pulled the oxygen mask off, to which our paramedic, Gary, smiled. “We like it when they fight“, He said, “that’s a good thing.” For the next hour or so, we sat in the ambulance as it drove us to the hospital, she slept deeply all the way.
There were no flashing lights since she wasn’t critical, just a calm, quiet drive. Meagan held Hannah, and we talked to the Paramedics. They were really great, with kind dispositions and reassuring tones.
When we got to the hospital, Hannah woke up, she was really cranky and wanted to go home, she wanted Norah, and she wanted to be left alone. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option, they had to run a battery of tests, get all her vital signs and run IVs since the assumption of the EMS was that she was dehydrated. After she settled, her disposition changed and she was a champ for the remainder of our stay.
We got there at 4:30 and were discharged at 1:00am. They tested for Intussuception just to be sure, but it turned out negative, and they couldn’t tell us what happened. Our assumption is that she had a seizure, or a series of small seizures. The symptoms seem to match up consistently with that…but we will probably never know. All we can do is keep an eye on her in case it happens again, which could be never.
Last Wednesday was the first time I seriously realized that my daughter was mortal, breakable, and vulnerable. It was a shaking experience, there was nothing I wouldn’t do in that moment when she was blue and comatose to make her well again, but I was largely helpless.
My daughter is well now, and we have a new appreciation for both of our daughters. Everything is a little bit brighter.
The reason I share this story is twofold. First, I need to. It’s how I process things. I don’t fully understand my feelings until I see them written.
Secondly, I was always afraid of things like this happening, but when they did, I wasn’t afraid…I just did what had to be done. I made decisions and moved forward. We weren’t fully able to process what happened until days after the event. For that reason, I distrust my anxious thoughts. What good are they except to get me worried about something that MIGHT happen, but even if it happens, I know I’ll be ok in the midst of it. It’s the idea that is scarier than the actual thing. Don’t get me wrong, it was scary to go through that, but I didn’t think about how I felt until after, and I think it’s the same for most people. Anxiety is a smokescreen and thoughts run rampant fuel the fire. In reality there is action, and if you never have to act, then good, but when the time comes to act on your fears…you will. You won’t THINK about it, you will just do it.
In reality, when the building is on fire, you run. When the building is fine, you fear the building being on fire, and you’re paralyzed. So don’t think about it, just move forward.
P.S.: This happened the night of Jeremiah’s graduation, so we didn’t see him graduate. Hannah was very disappointed, so we had a little mock graduation ceremony for her the next day. I think she was satisfied.
Oh and by the way, she’s fine, this video was the next morning: