9-1-1 What’s your emergency?

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“Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in His ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.” Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.”Then and there all signs of leprosy were gone.”

The MSG Matthew 8:1-3

I can remember the details right down to the strappy black sandals I was wearing. It was a sunny Wednesday morning and the house was unusually quiet. The girls were finishing their breakfast and Josiah was sleeping later than usual, so I took advantage of the extra time and blow-dried my hair.  I glanced at the clock and decided it was time for him to rise and shine. It was going to be a busy morning for us. After we dropped the girls off at school, we were going to pick up my mom and take her to a doctor’s appointment. It was really pushing time, but we could do it.

I cracked opened his door and softly called his name, “Josiah…” I waited. No response. I called for him again, “Josiah…” My eyebrows furrowed together as I neared his crib. I saw that he had a diarrhea explosion and I quickly turned and went to grab my cell phone. I needed to call my sister-in-law, Bebe, to let her know that Josiah was sick and I wouldn’t be able to watch my niece, Vivian. I figured I’d text her before I attempted to get elbow deep in poop.

I returned to his room. I called his name yet again and gently jostled his back. Nothing. Not even a stir. I jostled him harder and called his name louder. Still nothing. I scooped his limp body up and saw that his eyes were partially opened, droopy, as if the lights were on but nobody was home. My heart fell into my feet and a rush of adrenaline shot through my body and I ran out of the room.

“WHERE’S MY PHONE?!” I just had it, where in the world did I put it? “Girls! Help me find my phone…!!!” Sophia was standing frozen, her giant doe eyes staring back at me.

“What’s wrong with Joe Joe mommy?” She was a wise child for her seven years and was no stranger to medical emergencies.

“I don’t know. He won’t wake up. He’s sick, really, really sick…please help me find my phone.” I was begging. Just then Amaya ran up with my phone in her chubby hand. I laid Josiah on the couch and began stripping his soiled clothing.

“9-1-1, What’s your emergency?” The phone was pinched in between my ear and shoulder as my trembling hands cleaned the mess off of his body. My arms and legs felt like they weighed a 100 pounds and it took everything I had to get them to work properly.

“My two year old son won’t wake up!” I managed to choke the words out. It was as if once I said them, this actually became a reality. The knot in my throat was stifling my tears, making incredibly difficult to breathe or swallow.

“Is he breathing, mam?”

“Yes, HE’S BREATHING! VERY, VERY SLOWLY! PLEASE HURRY!”I watched his rib cage slowly rise and fall, pausing for what seemed like forever, and then rise again. Oh, my God! I NEED you! Hear me now!

“Listen. I need you to stay calm. Lay him on the floor. Place a pillow under his head and under his knees. Can you do that for me?”

“Yes…” I say, panic-stricken in my voice.

“Do you have anyone else in the house with you right now?” I glanced up and saw Sophia standing in the entry way of our home. She was standing stoic and tall, her arms tightly wrapped around Amaya’s shoulders. Tears were silently streaming down Amaya’s cheeks and my heart broke and split in two. I wanted to hug them. I wanted to protect them and keep things of the world from hurting them. I wanted them to go put their shoes on so we could walk to school and pretend like this wasn’t happening. I could NOT lose another child. Not today not ever.

“Yes, I have my two daughters here.” The question brought me back to my senses.

“Send them out to wave down the ambulance. They are almost there. Let me know when you can hear the sirens.”

Just as he said that, I heard them. The blasting sirens caused the gravity of what was going on to return and I gasped, “I can hear the sirens!”

“Great! I am going to hang up now. Everything will be okay.”

“Okay, thank you. Bye bye.”

I followed the dispatcher’s instructions and propped him up with pillows. Trying to not show pure terror I said, “Sophia, I need you to go stand on the corner and wait for the ambulance. When you see them, wave to them and they will follow you home.”

Both of the girls took off outside and I called Jim. I stood over Josiah, my hands trembling so badly that I could barely hold the phone to my face. Josiah looked so fragile, his face delicate with sunken eyes and his skin so pale. When I got Jim’s voicemail, more panic and fear swept over me. I can’t imagine what it was like to receive a voicemail like the one I left. I called Bebe next. She picked up on the first ring.

“Bebe! Josiah won’t wake up! I called 911 and the ambulance is almost here…” I was beginning to lose all composure at the sound of her voice.

“WHAT?! What do you want me to do? I’m coming over…”

“No, don’t come over, we won’t be here. I will call you as soon as I know what hospital we are going to. Please call Jim. I haven’t been able to get a hold of him.” She started to say something but I cut her off because an ambulance and fire truck just pulled up in front of my house, “I have to go! They’re here!” Seeing them arrive caused a wave of confused emotions; relief that help was here, terror that they were actually at my house and this was happening right now and disbelief that this was happening right now. As if that makes any sense.

Within seconds my living room was overcome by a swarm of yellow suited medics and firemen. They circled Josiah’s tiny body, not hesitating to open the syringes and needles. They were asking me a ton of questions, forcing me away from my son and taking me into another room.

“He has been having a lot of medical problems lately. He does have primary polydipsia and hasn’t been growing but the doctor’s haven’t officially diagnosed him with anything yet. We were just at the doctor’s office three days ago. They suspected and tested him for diabetes but everything was negative.”

Frustration and anger came over me. We had been at the doctor’s office and children’s hospital so many times between Amaya and Josiah, every time leaving without an answer. What was I supposed to do? All I wanted was for them to be healthy. If, at least, I knew what was wrong, we could adjust; learn to live with whatever ailed them. But we didn’t know and we were living each day in fear of the unknown. On this day my worst fear was coming true.

I saw that my neighbor had come inside and was walking towards me. My cell phone had been ringing off the hook. It was my mom. I had completely forgotten about my mom. I was supposed to pick her up ten minutes ago. My neighbor grabbed my phone and answered it.

I listened in disbelief as I heard her stay, “Hi Sharon (pause) yes, umm, there’s an emergency (pause) Josiah won’t wake up and the paramedics are here (pause) Yes, come now.” Times like these I am ever so thankful that my parents only live a block away.

Just then, another medic came into the room and asked, “Does your son have any history of seizures or diabetes?”

“No I was just explaining to him that he was just tested for diabetes a few days ago. It was negative, why?”

Ignoring my question he said, “Your son’s blood sugar is incredibly low and he seems to have had a seizure. We are having problems getting a line started in him. I need you permission to perform a procedure that doesn’t come without risks.” He explained that they needed to perform the intra-osseous procedure (often referred to as the IO). It’s used when a person goes into shock or is near death after their veins constrict and are unable to be accessed. They push a metal prong directly through the shin bone, forcing the prongs directly into the hallow part of the bone. Then they inject the medications directly into the bone marrow. It was Josiah’s only chance at survival.

I watched a medic with the name “Webb” written in white, light reflective letters on his jacket step up and perform the procedure on my lifeless son. The morning sun came through the shutters in my living room, bouncing off of his reflectors, causing an angelic halo of light to surround them. It was eerily beautiful and for a second, calmness came over me.

I shuddered when I saw the prong go into my son’s leg and he didn’t even flinch. The medics asked me to go wait in the ambulance. I walked out of my house and saw all of my neighbors lined up on the curb as if waiting for a parade.

Just as I turned to get into the passenger side of the ambulance my mom came around the corner. Once I saw her, the flood of tears came; there was no controlling my emotions.

I yelled from the street, “Mom! Joe Joe wont wake up! He’s had a seizure and his blood sugar super low…” She was waiting in her car so she could follow the ambulance. They brought my little man out of the house, so tiny on that gurney, and I saw her start to cry.

They loaded him up and we began to pull away, “STOP! I forgot my girls!” How could I forget my girls?! My neighbor waved and yelled, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep them. GO!” They were standing on their porch, arm in arm, so scared. I never even hugged them good-bye.

As we pulled away, the medic in the back firmly said, “You need to bump this up to a full siren ride, NOW!” The sirens went on and my heart fiercely pounded in my chest. My neck felt like it had a vice grip around it, cutting of all blood supply to my brain. It was becoming difficult to process what was going on.  My phone was vibrating in my hand and I fumbled trying to answer it. Finally! It was Jim. I could not hear anything he was saying. The ear-piercing sirens took over most of my senses and all that I could do was scream into the phone, “Come to Orange Coast Memorial Hospital! It’s Joe Joe! Please HURRY!” I repeated this twice and hung up. I hope he heard me. Please, God, let Joe Joe be okay.

We pulled up to the hospital and I saw Bebe and Vivian already waiting on the emergency room ramp. I imagine hearing the sirens and watching them pull Josiah out of the back of the rig was the cause for the look on Bebe’s face. It was one of panic, fear and anguish, much like mine, all rolled into one. I jumped out of the rig and watched as they wheeled my tiny little man through the back doors of the hospital.

Stay tuned for part 2: Josiah’s Divine Intervention

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3 thoughts on “9-1-1 What’s your emergency?

  1. That was hard to read I felt like it was playing all over again remembering all those Drs. trying so hard to bring him back and Jim running in looking like he was ready to pass out Iam just thankful for the out come always keep your faith

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