My Name is Sarah

MY NAME IS SARAH. I am a quilt designer and the sewcial director of Sarah's Sewcial Lounge. I also have a business called Down Right Charming. I sell my quilts mostly on etsy and I make pillowcases to donate to patients in the hospital in memory of my friend Kristen Kirton. I am a young adult living with Down syndrome. I hope you enjoy reading about my life journey.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Artificial Respiration

Twenty Years Ago Joyce

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. It was the first Sunday we were together as a family of four since Sarah had come home from a two and half month hospital stay following her open heart surgery. TJ was just barely two. His life had been turned upside down once Sarah's recovery had taken the lengthy route, so after lunch John suggested he take him to the park to play. I was happy and content. It was such a relaxing feeling to finally have an afternoon to just be.

I put Sarah in her crib for an afternoon nap. Before leaving her room I turned on the Fisher Price monitor we had been given when TJ was born. I gathered up some laundry and then sat down to read the Sunday paper. After folding the first load of towels, I carried them upstairs to store in the linen closet. Although I hadn't heard any noise from the monitor, I decided to peek in on Sarah while I was on the second floor. One quick glance and I realized she was blue... blue as the cover of my Junior Girl Scout Handbook. (I did not have this book with me at the time) My heart started to race faster than it ever had before, as I scooped her out of the crib and placed her on the changing table. For a very brief moment, I started to panic. I started to break into a clammy sweat. And then as quickly as I started to panic a complete calmness took over my body. It was like when a movie goes into slow motion. It was if someone reached into my brain and replaced it with one from someone else.

My vision changed, my thought process changed. All of a sudden I was back in this large room at a church in Canton that I had taken a first aid class in with my Girl Scout troop. I could vividly see the avocado and orange plaid chairs circling the room. I saw the practice manikin lying in the center on the brown and orange braided carpet. I could hear the instructor's calming voice giving directions. So I followed the directions. Only it wasn't the Annie doll I was working on, it was my own baby girl. My precious Sarah. The first few breaths seemed to have no impact. Then I could feel the airway opening. I could vaguely see her tiny little chest rise. I scooped her up and continued to blow air into her mouth and nose as I ran to our bedroom to grab the phone.

When the dispatcher answered I told her my daughter was struggling to breath. She just had open heart surgery and I needed an ambulance. She started to ask me questions and I simply replied, "I am a Girl Scout, I know what I am doing," and I hung up (You should not hang up). The fact is, I had not been a Girl Scout for several years...

...looking at my Girl Scout book today, it indicates the Health Aid badge was completed in February of 1971. It was now April 1990, yet this memory was strongly guiding me some nineteen years later.
I continued to breath into Sarah until the paramedics arrived. They immediately took over and prepared for transport. They had me sit on the gurney with Sarah cradled in my arms. She was barely ten pounds at the time, a fragile little peanut, but a fighter to her core. I requested that we be taken to the Cleveland Clinic where her doctors were. The driver said it was too risky. Their protocol would not allow a "drive by" in a respiratory crisis. Rainbow Babies and Children at University Hospitals was closer and so that is where we headed. The ER staff meet us at the door. I watched closely as the one paramedic gave a quick report. His demeanor somehow troubled me. He was professional in every way, yet I could sense this call had bothered him...


Shelly Turpin said...

What a blessing that you remembered. There is a scripture that says the Holy Ghost will bring all things to your remembrance. What a blessing that you listen to your mother's instincts and checked on sweet Sarah. She couldn't leave then - she had so much left to accomplish in this life.
Putting aside the miraculous, how absolutely terrifying for you as the Mama.
These 20 years ago memories have been leaving me in tears because they are so similar to Bella. I was sure that the horribleness was over after her heart surgery - it was just the beginning.
I am grateful that you and Sarah keep this blog for the rest of us coming up the path.

Rochelle said...

Amazing Joyce, thankful for your calm in the moment and remebering those skills for so many years earlier.

Lacey said...

I agree with Shelly, its so nice to read what you went through with Sarah when we are going through the same stuff 20 years later. I can't imagine doing this stuff when technology wasn't as great as it is now. Listening to Paul Cardalls mom talk about his heart repairs 20 years ago. Its amazing that man is still alive!

Kari said...

Reading this gave me chills. I have been through this 3 times. Once with Chanelle who had a 90 minute seizure after her MMR shot and stopped breathing then Tristan as a new born twice. Luckily I was able to get them to the hospital and Intubated in time. I count my blessings every day. I am so happy Sara made it through as well :)
I have a question. Does it still feel like yesterday to you? I suspect I have post traumatic stress because when I think about it it's like reliving it all over again everytime.

Tiffany said... glad to know she's ok!!

JRS said...

Whoa Joyce. The closest I have experienced is when Sophie was first home from the NICU at 2.5 weeks old and stopped breathing when I over fed her (she was syringe feeding at the time) and her airways were flooded wih milk. To weak to choke, there were no gasps for breath or coughing, just no breathing. The EMTs got to our house but by then she was ok. You never forget these things. I love reading your grandmothers journal entries. What a treasure.

Cindy said...

Wow Joyce, I can't imagine what that must have been like. And all these years later, you're posting pictures of her in the hospital, getting help to breathe. Amazing.