Just another day, but it wasn’t normal at all.
Rushing around in the morning in preparation for my day is not one of my favorite activities. Before I leave my home, I mentally go through my list of completed tasks…pants ironed, Turtle fed, phone in my purse, breakfast eaten…
My cell phone began to ring with my mother’s ring tone, “Take Me There” by Rascal Flatts.
“Hello?” I said a bit out of breath.
“Sherry, I can’t wake up Alyssa for school. Is she always this hard to wake up in the morning?” my mother asked as if she was at her wits end.
“Mom, she has to go to school. That was the deal she made with me when I said she could spend the night.”
“But Sherry, she won’t wake up.”
I know that Alyssa can be grumpy in the morning if she is tired and I was sure she went to bed too late at Mom’s house. I didn’t want Mom’s “nice” slumber party with her to be wrecked by an unhappy morning.
“Mom, I’m on my way. Don’t worry. I’ll wake her up and take her to school when I get there.”
I didn’t feel that it was my mother’s responsibility to pry Alyssa out of the bed, so I quickly removed my “work clothes” and changed into a pair of jeans and my favorite baggie shirt. After slipping on my sneakers, I was ready to go. My husband wanted to go with me because I was acting a little erratic after I called work and asked for a vacation day. Plus, he volunteered to hold Bella, Alyssa’s puppy, on the drive back home since she spent the night too.
The ten minute drive flew by and before I knew it we were there. Walking into Mom’s home, I headed straight to the guest room. Alyssa was asleep facing the wall with her back to me. I leaned down and kissed her cheek whispering quietly in her ear, “Alyssa, it’s time to wake up and go to school.”
I sat on the edge of the bed and shook her a little bit by the shoulder the way I have done so many times before. Teenagers can really sleep like logs. Not only didn’t she respond, but her body moved…heavy.
I felt uncertainty well up inside of me. Something didn’t feel normal to me.
Turning Alyssa over and holding her by the shoulders and arms, I raised the upper part of her body from the bed saying loudly, “Alyssa, Alyssa, wake up!”
Never before had she been this hard to awaken. Something was wrong. Her face was a funny color and she was limp and heavy. Fear gripped my insides and I thought I was going to suffocate.
“Alyssa! Oh Alyssa, please wake up!” I once again said, but this time in more of a begging tone.
Then she began to have a seizure. Alyssa’s eyes rolled back and only the whites were showing. Her body, tight and stiff from the seizure shook the bed. I still held her, but slowly let her lay on the bed ensuring that she didn’t hit her head on anything.
My mind raced to remember all the proper things to do. I felt as if someone had their hand clasp around my neck cutting off all air to my lungs. Each second felt like years.
Mom ran into the room crying and frantic. I’ve never seen such pain and agony on her face. The terror in her eyes was evident in every movement of her body.
“Mom! Call 9-1-1! Hurry, Mom, call 9-1-1!” I screamed out of fear and wanting to shock her back into reality.
Mom ran out of the room crying, shaking and falling apart as she tried desperately to dial 9-1-1. It was the first time I was unable to comfort my mother and I worried that she wouldn’t be okay, but there wasn’t anything I could do at the moment.
The seizure ended. Alyssa’s eyes looked straight ahead and then her body became completely limp. No sounds escaped her now very still body. Her skin instantly became a shade of gray and her lips turned blue. I tried desperately to feel her breathing or a heartbeat, but I couldn’t feel her breathe nor find a pulse.
My mind was a chaotic mix of a million thoughts with one thought breaking through the rest and filling every molecule in my body. My child was dead! There was no movement!
“Oh God! Please don’t take my baby! Oh God! Please don’t take my baby!” I screamed with gut wrenching agony.
I couldn’t stop screaming. It felt as though someone was reaching down past my heart, grabbing everything inside of me and ripping it out through my soul. The begging, desperate screams were loud, deep and filled with aching pain.
Every cell in my body throbbed with terror.
I continued to scream over and over again with the only thought I could put into words…
“Oh God! Please help! Oh God! Please don’t take my baby! Oh God! Please don’t take my baby!”
For a minute, but it seemed like an eternity, I continued screaming the same emotion-filled, gut wrenching, begging plea to God.
Alyssa jerked slightly, her eyes closed and she took a hard, short breath. The grayness faded just a bit and her lips took on a pale tan-pink color replacing the awful shade of blue.
At this point, Mom’s neighbor, who is an RN, came into the room. She quietly and softly sat on the edge of the bed. Using my watch, she began to count Alyssa’s heartbeats. Then she stroked my child’s silky hair and just kept an air of peace and comfort in the room while we waited.
The ambulance and police arrived within five minutes of the 9-1-1 call. When they arrived, the room immediately was filled with paramedics and equipment all intent on saving my daughter’s life.
I left the room. I felt like vomiting.
I could hear the paramedics getting Alyssa’s vitals and trying to find a vein that wasn’t collapsed in her small, frail body. If her heart stopped, I couldn’t bear to watch them use the paddles in an attempt to bring her back to life again.
I realized at that moment that I was holding Alyssa’s puppy. I don’t remember picking her up, but I obviously did at some point. My memories become lost in a bit of a haze at this point. I’m not sure of the order of the following events, but I remember them happening before I left Mom’s home:
- Giving our personal information to a police man and paramedics.
- Mom crying and walking back and forth outside the front door.
- The puppy incessantly barking.
- Not being able to remember Alyssa’s social security number.
- Looking for my purse and putting my shoes back on my feet.
- Holding the puppy and checking that she was okay and not frightened.
- Trying to find my cell phone, but not knowing what to do with it.
Eventually, the paramedics were able to get an IV started and carefully placed my completely unconscious daughter on a rolling cot intent on getting her safely to the hospital alive.
Continued to The Intensive Care Experience Part 2