Monday, February 14, 2011

No words to describe it...

I'm still undecided as to whether this was my "worst day ever" or my "best day ever". And I'm not even entirely sure that I want to blog about it. If I were the type to keep a journal, that would be a better, more private, place for me to write about our ordeal. However, I don't. I blog. So if you don't want to read about my own personal Hell, please move along.

Saturday - like every other Saturday - was swimming lesson day. I drove to the city in the morning, with my children. The roads were bare and dry on the way in, the temperature hovering around a mild zero. Sometime during our swim it started to rain. And snow. And then rain again. Connor decided it was 'snaining' and I figured that was a good way to describe it.


We left the city with plenty of time to get home before dark. I stopped only to fill up the gas tank and we picked our way home. I stayed in the tracks of the vehicles before me and tried to avoid the slush that was building up in the middle of the highway. An hour into our slow drive, I rolled our van.


That's basically the gist of it.

Only I because I had my three children in the back seat when I did it, I can also add "scared the crap out of my children" and "almost killed them" to my list of confessions. Just writing this, I'm starting to shake again. I think that it'll be a while before I can move through the day without watching the instant replay over and over again in my mind.


I talked to my oldest about it tonight. I apologized for scaring him and for crashing the car. He said, "You kept saying, 'I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry..." over and over again when you were pulling us out."

Well, good! Because I was. And I am.


I'm haunted by the memory of the suddeness with which I lost control on the slushy highway, and the panic as we started to spin. Then the sight of nothing but snow as the ditch loomed in front of me. And then the whirling roller coaster sensation as we rolled down the embankment. And then the terrified screams of my children from the back seat.


Then I don't really remember what happened until I was standing in the snow, pulling my daughter out through the broken window. A man showed up on the other side of the van asking if we were okay. I yelled, "can you help me get my kids out?"


Alex reminds me that I forgot to say "please".


The rest is a blur of goodwill and help. So many people pulled over to offer assistance, despite the fact that doing so endangered their own travel on the treacherous road conditions. A couple from town who look vaguely familiar, took us in to their car to wait for the emergency vehicles to arrive. He, coincidently was an off-duty paramedic. He assessed my children and immobilized Connor as a precaution because Connor said his neck hurt. His wife helped me dial our home number because my hands were shaking too badly --- plus I found her fancy iphone far to complicated to figure out in my present state of mind.


Connor left in the first ambulance, strapped to a board, bleeding from his forehead and nose. I stayed behind with my other two and followed in the second, feeling guilty about sending him off with strangers, but knowing that my husband was already on his way to the hospital to meet him. Our ambulance ride was less of a priority and more of a technicality, as Alex recalls bumping his head but has no visible injuries or ill-effects. Kirstin has lacerations on her forehead and on both of her tiny hands. I have a mere cut on my finger and one on my wrist, probably from pulling my children through the window. I also have a heavy, guilt-laden heart, but no amount of medication can fix that.

I needn't have worried about Connor being alone in the first ambulance. He thoroughly enjoyed himself. He wowed the attendants with his mastery of the alphabet and his ability to count. He proudly told them he was so smart because he eats chicken. At the emergency room he was given an all-clear and three popsicles. Our arrival there during his third popsicle, was short-lived. Kirstin immediately started running circles and giggling. Alex was weepy but unharmed. My heartrate and blood pressure where elevated, but no one thought much of that. It was pretty obvious to the nurses on duty that we were one lucky - healthy - family. We walked home together with my husband, who was relieved to see us all.


I think I maybe have a guardian angel out there somewhere. Maybe one of my grandparents, perhaps? It wasn't our turn to go. Someone was looking out for us on Saturday. And for that, I am truly grateful!


I visited our trusty vehicle in the impound today, to salvage what I could of our belongings before saying good bye to it forever. I took several photos. I may or may not scrapbook them. I'm not sure the children want to relive the experience when they're looking through our family album, however it does mark a pretty momentous event in their relatively short lives thus far.

Here's our beloved Sienna. Rest in Peace, we will miss you! The front didn't sustain much damage, which explains why I got off completely scot-free.

The part we could see from the highway. It really didn't look all that bad from our vantage point in our rescuers' vehicle.
The driver's side, however, crumpled. The windows blew out. The trunk got crunched. I think I must have went into the ditch back first, based on the damage. (Another thing that probably saved us).

There are no words to describe this angle. It's horrific to imagine the alternate ending to our scenario.
Here's the roof of the van resting on the headrest on the back of my daughter's seat. If she'd been any taller, or if I'd had one of the boys sitting in that position instead... our ambulance ride would have been so very, very different.

And so, as this is very much the most horrific thing I've ever done or experienced, it's also the most wonderful, uplifting thing that I can describe as well. I walked out of that ditch with my three children. I don't know how, or why. I only know that I am so very, very, very lucky.
(I also know that people who don't wear seat belts and use appropriate child restraints are dumb-asses. Because they truly do save lives. They saved my babies' lives. So use them, dumb-ass!) --- just a little PSA...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's the differential diagnosis?

Subject 1 (6 years old), symptoms:
Day 1: red and white spotted rash on torso.
Day 2: rash on torso spreads to face. Clears up on Day 3.
Day 5: diarrhea. Subject stays home from school.
Day 8: cough and general malaise. Subject stays home from school. Experiences night-time vomiting.
Days 9 through 13: cough

Subject 2 (4 years old), symptoms:
Day 9: sudden onset of nighttime vomiting
wheezing whistling laboured breathing
barking cough
ER diagnosis of Croup.
Responds to nebulizer and steroids.
Days 10 through 12: cough but breathing returns to normal.
Day 13: vomiting but hearty appetite.

Subject 3 (2.5 years old), symptoms:
Day 11: diarrhea and cough
Day 12: diarrhea and cough; low-grade fever. Responds to children's tylenol.
Day 13: diarrhea, cough, bright red cheeks, listlessness, fever, leaking from nose
and eyes. Extreme grumpiness.

Subjects 4 and 5 (age unknown) symptoms:
Tired and underslept but otherwise unscathed.

Welcome to our home... enter at your own risk!