Don’t worry! Everybody’s fine! (I always say that right away after mentioning that we went to the emergency room.)
Fortunately, we had the best experience at the ER you can really have going to the ER. We didn’t have to wait or witness any trauma (I’ve definitely seen worse at the emergency vet). We were there for a reasonable amount of time and left with the person who required an ER visit feeling better than he did when we arrived. No complaints here.
The story goes something like this. On Tuesday, I could tell Soren wasn’t feeling all that well and was maybe starting to get sick. On Wednesday, after dinner and a bath, he suddenly developed the most awful cough I’ve ever heard in my life. (If you have a kid and live in a dry climate, you probably know where this is going.) It was like he was magically transformed into a miserable little seal: “Arf-cough! Arf-cough! Arf-cough!” Even worse was the crazy inhale noise he made after coughing and while crying, sort of like the heeeeeeh my mom and I make when we’re about to freak out about something.
Eventually, he stopped the arf-cough-heeeeeeh cycle and fell asleep. He was so congested it sounded like the police chopper was hovering over his room or someone was making coffee in there (you know that weird sound drip coffee makers make — it was kind of like that). But he was sleeping and breathing and I was all, okay, this sucks but he’s okay so let’s just chill.
While consulting the book from our pediatricians’ (I never know whether that should be plural or singular. It’s a group practice, so there are pediatricians, but we usually see only one of them, so we have a pediatrician.) office for “cough” to see if there was anything we could do to help, I started reading the next section, labeled “croup.” After I finished, I told Ben to read it because, in my educated (I have a pretend medical degree from spending many hypochondriac years on the internet) opinion, Soren had, as I like to say, not just croup, but The Croup.
The treatment for The Croup seems to be decidedly low-tech, just how I like things. You’re supposed to hang out with the kid in a hot, steamy bathroom for a while and/or bundle him up and go outside where it’s cold, which it probably is, because The Croup is a fall/winter thing. And it’s usually reasonably minor. However, as Dr. Google informed me, you’re supposed to call 911 or your doctor if your child experiences stridor (that’s the heeeeeeh part of the cycle) or is drooling, both of which he had been doing.
So when Soren woke up at 11 and started with the barking cough and stridor again, I called the pediatricians’ office. This is the first time I’d ever called them after hours. I got patched through to a quiet-speaking doctor and felt kind of silly telling him that, well, my kid is coughing a lot. I figured he’d say, oh sure, bring him into the office tomorrow. Not so much. Sounds like The Croup, he said (okay, he just said croup). When it comes on that suddenly, he recommends having the kid seen in the ER right away.
So we went to the ER and that went as well as it can go. Soren got some medication and humidified oxygen (he was terrified of the mask, even though it looked like a friendly little dinosaur, but I can’t blame him because I’d probably be afraid of having stuff I didn’t understand on my face, too, so Ben and I had to alternate holding the oxygen hose thing as close to Soren’s face as possible). He started feeling better. After about two hours, we got to go home, where Soren and I have remained since. (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. I’ve left the house twice to go to the gym.) And I’ve only spent about 5 minutes worrying about whether I’m going to get The Croup.