Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Our summer excitement

A couple of weeks ago, we had a reality check, one daughter showed that she was a little more adventurous than we thought, and the other showed that she's one cool cookie.

We've been enjoying our time at our apartment complex pool this summer, swimming at least once a week. It's a great design for kids, with a large section that 1 1/2' deep and steps that lead from that down to the 3' - 4 1/2' part. L tends to spend most of her time in the shallow part, by the edge playing with assorted pool toys, while K swims all over the place, practicing her diving skills. Just this year has she gotten brave enough to learn to swim down to the bottom of the pool for the diving rings, sticks, goggles, or whatever gets dropped.

Two weeks ago, I took the girls and a friend's son down to the pool which was unusually busy with lots of kids and moms. I found a table in the shade and went to work on organizing L's homeschool curriculum, keeping one eye one the girls and one eye on my work. The girls were comfortable in the water and stayed within their depth and ability, so I wasn't worried about them. At one point, though, I heard K scream out her sister's name in panic. I looked over, couldn't see L, and K was diving under the water near the steps that led from the shallow end to the deeper part. I raced over, jumped into the pool near K (flip-flops flying), and watched as K surfaced holding her sister. I grabbed L, who was limp and unresponsive, and laid her on the pool edge. Her lips were blue, so I pushed a few times on her diaphragm, causing water to come pouring out of her nose and mouth. I had her head turned and she started gagging and throwing up, and began to come around within seconds. She started screaming and I picked her up and held her as the other moms pulled out cell phones and dialed 911.

By the time the fire department arrived (and we're located within a minute of the station), L was breathing normally, responding to questions, and had lost the blue cast of her skin. It took a minute for the firemen to even understand why they were there. They checked her head for bumps and found none, listened to her breathing and declared her lungs clear, but L's very loud heart murmur threw them. Between that and the fact that I couldn't positively say how long L had been underwater, they and the paramedics who arrived shortly after the firemen, wanted to transfer her to the emergency room. With all the adults and kids in the water, there was no way she had been underwater long and she had responded very quickly once we got her out, but they had to be *sure*.

So the wonderful women in the apartment office took charge of K and her friend, M, so I could go in the ambulance with L. L was fine by this time and ended up taking a nap on the way to the hospital. When we got there, the emergency room staff called it miraculous that she had survived without major neurological damage, being completely overly dramatic about it all. They said the danger now was respiratory problems that sometimes come up after a near-drowning, so they took a chest X-ray (it was completely clear) and insisted on keeping L overnight. L was acting like her normal self at this point and was, thankfully, not too upset at being kept in bed. The staff had put an IV needle in her hand "just in case" and wrapped it with bright pink tape. L decided it looked like a glove and immediately started a game of catch with an imaginary ball.

The night at the hospital was long. We got to a room a little before 9, and soon L started to settle down. Of course, she then got a second wind and was up until well after midnight. Thank goodness for the pediatrics ward with movies and snacks! And thank goodness for modern technology; L was hooked up to oxygen and heart monitors that the nurses could track from their station and they didn't have to come in and wake her up throughout the night to check her.

The staff doctor came in early the next morning, declared L as doing great, told me his own son had done something similar, and said we could be released. Woohoo! Then, of course, the staff decided that since a morning chest X-ray had been ordered last night, they needed to do that before discharge. So we had to wait for that. Then we had to wait until the nurses got around to getting our discharge papers finished. So it was several hours after we got our marching orders before we could actually march.

All it all, it was a major fuss over a minor thing. It *could have been* much worse, but I am not one to dwell on what could have been. DH and I agree that the true miracle was that there were so many people there to watch things, that another little girl happened to see L very quickly after she went under, that K reacted very quickly to dive in and pull L out, and that I kept my head and all the Infant/Child CPR and First Aid stuff came back when needed. God was indeed watching over L through everyone there.

Of course, in the past 2 weeks, I have seen 3 reports of children who have drowned in swimming pools - ages 2, 6, and 7 - and I thank God we didn't have to go through that. There was also a report of a life guard who saved the life of a child, pulling him off the bottom of the pool. L calls K her "superhero" for her part in the rescue. K ought to get a medal for keeping her head, knowing exactly what to do, and simply doing it. Pretty good for a 6-year-old.

Since the incident, we've gone back to the pool several times. L got right back in without any hesitation (actually, she was asking to go back to the pool while we were still waiting in the emergency room) and plays without any problems. K keeps a closer eye on her little sister and has panicked once or twice when she can't see her. I now bring nothing to do, sit on the steps separating the shallow and deep parts, and make sure L wears her swim vest if she gets close to the deep end!

1 comment:

Roy said...

In some cases it seems that you cannot be too careful; but, in all cases you have to let L and K have the freedom to grow and learn, even if there is the possibility of unexpected danger.

Thankfully, it seems that "Dad" in heaven is looking after us.