Sunday, August 10, 2008

Drive Like Hell

Today I made a terrifying drive in the car with Lucas, something I'm sure all too many parents have had to do with their small children, a drive my parents took with me once when I was about his age.

We were all in Paripe earlier today, eating lunch, and Lucas was playing with his little cousin Adriane who is three weeks his junior. I noticed he had a bump under his eye, like a hive (if one can have one hive). This hive suddenly got bigger, and was joined by another right next to it, and they were growing so fast we could almost watch them increase in size.

Lucas has always had allergies, and they get worse in the winter down here, and I've always been afraid that they might get even worse. I've watched nervously as he tries new foods like peanuts in fear that he might have a severe reaction. That's what I thought I was witnessing today. I listened to his breath and he was wheezing, which set off the alarm klaxon so I threw some clothes on him, threw him in the car, and took off.

Despite my sister-in-law's last minute advice not to drive too fast, I drove very fast. The children's hospital where I take him whenever something happens is quite close to our house, but probably forty minutes by car. I got there in... substantially less than that. There was no way I was taking him to one of the crappy public hospitals that are much closer- they sometimes have no doctors on duty, and who knows about medications and the rest. Evani should have another younger sister, but she died as an infant of an infection she caught at the hospital closest to Paripe.

As I was driving like mad, I was also trying to keep Lucas from going to sleep. I know that you aren't supposed to let kids sleep if they get hit on the head, and I've heard anecdotally that you don't want to drift off if you should find yourself riddled with bullets, but I don't know about allergic reactions. I wasn't taking any chances. Lucas wanted to sleep quite badly and I think I scared him with my nonstop nervous shouted conversation and grabbing his foot. He started crying and calling for his mom. His eye swelled almost shut- the two hives turned into one big balloon under his right eye.

Finally after what seemed like hours of driving I got to the hospital and rushed him inside. The doctor on duty told me that he was breathing fine and his heart was fine and showed me a previously unnoticed red spot on his cheek directly below the balloon - some kind of bug bite. Since he hadn't complained of any bites, we suspect it was an ant. She told me it was okay for him to go to sleep, so while we were waiting for them to administer some medication, he did just that. He slept for a full hour while he was undergoing observation, awaking only briefly when he got a shot in the bum, not something he enjoyed particularly.

I'm sure I overreacted, but that's what parents do, right? At least I had the car and the insurance and the hospital to go to. Sitting around waiting for it to subside, wondering if it would get worse, is what too many people here in the city are forced to do. Evani's sister told me she'd done just that with her son when he had a very similar experience. Then again, I don't know if she's even heard of anaphylactic shock so maybe she wasn't as flipped out as I was.

When I was about Lucas' age, maybe a little younger, I fell off the back of a small stool as I was eating some nuts. A couple of these nuts lodged themselves over my windpipe, and my parents had to rush me to the hospital as I could barely breathe. Then, they had to rush me to another hospital because the first one said they couldn't deal with it. This was in a part of the country where all destinations are separated by many miles of trees and fields. At one of these hospitals, a doctor told my mom that I might not make it. Thanks, Doc.

Lucas is fine and was busy playing again, his eye subsided but still quite puffy, when I left him again in Paripe to come home to work, again, on a Sunday. Oh- and did I mention it's Brazilian Father's Day? That was the 'quality time' I spent with Lucas today. When we got out of the hospital, the first thing he wanted was to go back to Paripe and see his mom.

I would have posted a photo but I didn't have my camera... and I'm one of the last on the planet without one built into my cell phone...


AkuTyger said...

That's scary! We had something like this when Ju got that gash in his head during Carnaval, driving like a bat out of hell.

Once Ju was bitten by some ants and had a similar reaction. Me too, since my anaphalaxys allergy things are all to foods, not environmental stimuli. Which is probably why I waited 3 days to go get this rash checked. Live and learn.

markuza said...

Yikes. I bet there are more parents than not out there with similar stories... Carnaval is not a good time to be dashing anywheres... at least you live well away from a parade route. Luckily Lucas has not exhibited any food allergies yet.