Michael, 4, came home with this little rainbow from daycare.
He had been dry coughing since I picked him up. I chalked it up to allergies with post nasal drip. No fever. Nothing else out of the ordinary. Clear mucus.
At 10pm he says “I wish my rainbow still lit up”
I reverse search the image to find out what he was talking about. He explains that him and two other boys and a girl at school pulled the necklace into pieces to share. I’m so proud that he’s sharing, but then I start to wonder how this necklace lights up. With the help of some wonderful PA Moms, we figure out that this cheap necklace from China and sold at Walmart uses button batteries to light up each little rainbow charm.
I questioned if he ate a battery. He said no. I asked if he saw a battery, he said yes. I continue to try to calm myself down and gather more info. Since Johnathan died, I don’t believe a day has gone by where I haven’t tried to learn more about batteries and the dangers of them. I have tried so hard to tell everyone I know to get them out of your home if you have little kids.
The one question I get a lot is “what are the symptoms of Button Battery Ingestion?” The truth is, they’re very vague. Cough, fever, possibly vomiting blood, difficulty breathing or swallowing, nose bleed, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or fatigue. Unless you see your child eat a battery or know that there is a battery missing, those very same symptoms can be thousands of different diagnoses.
11:30 pm, his nose starts bleeding...
So we went to the ER. THE ER. The same emergency department that we went to for Johnathan. I walked in the same door, stood and waited outside the same entrance. They brought us in and I saw the airplanes on the walls.
Just before Johnathan died, he was starting to really like the show Super Wings. It was HIS thing. Michael had always picked what shows they watched, PJ Masks, Paw Patrol, Blaze... but this show really seemed to make Johnathan happy. He was gifted an Advent Calendar with airplane toys for each day. Since my boys have no patience, he had all the airplanes by December 4th. I remember seeing the airplanes hanging on the walls of the ER the day he died. I thought to myself that he would have really liked to have seen those planes.
Some of the staff remembered me from almost three months ago when Johnathan died. They understood the severity of my concern for Michael. A broken cheap necklace from China, batteries unaccounted for, dry cough, and now a nose bleed. I wasn’t going to be satisfied until they X-ray’d him from nasal cavity to rectum. The ER team agreed.
They rolled us back to the radiology department. We rolled past their pediatric trauma room. The same room where he died. As we turned the corner, I looked down at the exact spot my feet were standing when the ER doctor that morning told me that our little body was gone. I tried to look away. I tried not to cry. I couldn’t stop the tears. I found myself back to that very moment.
We‘ve done everything we can. There’s been no heart activity. He’s been down too long. He has died. And I screamed “no” so many times. And I held his hand and kissed his head. We took a moment to talk to our baby. I touched his hair and just told him I was sorry. We didn’t know why. But we knew he was gone.
Thankfully, the rad techs were amazing with Michael. They let him play with the “robot” that would take a picture of his insides. They gave him a sticker every time he stood still and said ‘cheese’. PA Mom here just stayed at the computer and watched each image load. One by one, I didn’t see anything abnormal. With my experience working in the ER myself, I felt very confident in my findings.
No battery! No foreign body!
As we rolled back to our room, I felt relief. I knew that this is how it‘s suppose to happen. A dry cough and a nose bleed means allergies, a viral infection, or maybe sinus infection. It’s not suppose to be a button battery burning through your tissue.
It was horses this time, not the zebra. He has post nasal drip and picked a booger to get the blood going.
Michael is ok and I thank God for watching over him.
We were discharged 2 hours after we arrived. I walked out of those ER doors WITH my son. That part was different. That part I was grateful for.
I am slowly realizing how much I have changed since Johnathan died. There’s the obvious grief and sense of loss. Questioning why we‘re even on this earth. Trying to find a purpose for my existence. But then there’s the damage. The parts of my brain that will never let me fully be what I thought was “normal” ever again. I faced a multitude of triggers last night. Basically the worst exposure therapy ever. And although I cried and I didn’t want to be there. I was there. And as Michael looked up at me as we sat outside the room his brother was pronounced dead in, he told me “it’s ok, Mommy, you don’t need to cry”
And he’s right. I don’t need to cry. I can cry, but I can also choose to look down into the beautiful brown eyes of my first born, Michael, and know that in this moment, I’m standing in the ER where they told me Michael would be ok.
Triggers are all around us. We can try to make them all go away or try to avoid them completely, but sometimes, being triggered and then immediately being comforted or confronting the pain can really just make you feel stronger.
Today I know I can do more than I thought I could yesterday.