Things I’d Never Even Heard Of

By Beck

So yesterday we took the kids to get their flu shots. There wasn’t a lot of debate about it – two of our three kids are in a high-risk group for flu complications AND they get everything. After school, I calmly packed the three of them into my mom’s car and we headed across town to get the needles.

The Baby got hers first, clutching her toy stuffed chipmunk who goes EVERYWHERE with her. She winced and it hurt but nothing worse than that. She looked unhappy, so a pretty young nurse pointed out a table full of paper firetrucks and firehats and she happily enough trotted over to grab them. I was crouched next to The Boy, who was about to get his needle, and so she ran over to see me – and fell RIGHT onto her face, splitting her lip open. I comforted her and handed her over to my mom, who sat on the other side of the room.

The Boy had his shot – and it hurt, poor fella – and then it was the Girl’s turn and she’s scared of needles and she was DRAMATICALLY oppossed to getting it, so I was dealing with THAT, when suddenly my mom called: “Becky! She says she feels sick to her stomach!”

I looked across the room and my baby was turning grey and losing conciousness.

I dashed over and grabbed her and RAN to the nurse’s station. A large, calm, elderly nurse took her out of my hands and screamed at the other health workers to CLEAR THAT TABLE OFF NOW. My child was limp and blue and not breathing in her arms. “Her heart is slowing down!” she yelled at the other nurses. “Get that emergency box open NOW! She is IN SHOCK. WHERE IS THE AMBULANCE?”

My child – my little 28 pound girl, my noisy little firecracker – lay completely motionless and grey and cold on a table. Her toy chipmunk lay beside her limp, motionless hand. I thought she was dead. I thought I was looking at my child’s dead body.

My mother was in the room again – I had screamed at her to take the other kids OUT, to not let them see this – and she told me later that she thought she was seeing her for the last time, that this was the last time on earth she would see our darling. A nurse who I know came running in and screamed “NO! NOT HER!”

They got the box open. The nurse readied the Epi-Pen, and then looked carefully at my child. She bent down, her ear next to my child’s ear.


“I’m listening to her,” she said calmly. “She’s telling me something.”

I looked over, and my child’s grey lips were moving, her eyes screwed shut.

The ambulance attendants loaded her onto the stretcher. Her eyes were open again, and she pressed her toy chipmunk to her chest, her face grey and her eyes huge and frightened.

She was signifigantly recovered enough by the time she had been in the ambulance for a few minutes to complain about the quality of the ambulance driver’s driving. “This is bumpy!” she muttered. “Don’t you people know I’m not feeling good?” And then, a few minutes later while I held her icy hands, she whispered to me “Mama, I’m scared. I’m scared of what is happening in my body.” And my heart broke and I died.

Her dad came running to meet us, his face white. The Baby was herself enough to want to walk in, and she was instantly surrounded by fussing nurses who took her blood pressure (“again!” she crabbed) and checked her heart and her vital signs and the young doctor came in and told us that she’d had a severe vasovagal synocopal episode – which means basically that the combination of stress + pain had made her pass out and the blood stop going to her heart. So it wasn’t, let me be clear, a reaction to the INGREDIENTS in her flu shot. It was the pain of it combined with falling on her face and watching her sister’s Dramatic Freak Out that did it. It WILL happen again. Oh grand, says I.

She’s okay today. Kind of pasty, but she’s curled up in my bed with her brother and sister – who were SO horribly worried about her – and they are reading her stories. Will I ever get over this? Probably not. But she’s okay, and maybe someday that horrifying image, the worst thing I ever saw, will fade. Maybe.

78 Responses to Things I’d Never Even Heard Of
  1. carrien (she laughs at the days)
    November 5, 2009 | 5:31 pm

    Seriously sobbing here, while I hold my not yet 20 pound Little in my lap and live that moment with you while you tell it.

    I would want to stay curled up in bed with her for at least a week after that.

  2. Jen
    November 5, 2009 | 6:12 pm

    Oh my gosh. SO scary. I was in tears and I don’t even know your child. At least it happened while you were still at the doctor’s office and not in the car on the way home. How horrible for all of you, but glad she is okay.

  3. Hetha
    November 5, 2009 | 6:26 pm

    Oh shit. Beck you have aged about 17 years, no? I’m so relieved for you that she is okay and that’s it’s a new day. I’ve seen E blue lipped and motionless too and I don’t think it’s possible to ever forget it, or get over it. I’m not sure I want to, actually.

  4. Alison
    November 5, 2009 | 7:03 pm

    Oh my God, how awful. Miss Pink had a febrile seizure when she was a year old and when her eyes rolled back in her head, I lost it. This sounds so much worse. So thankful she is okay.

  5. Kelly
    November 5, 2009 | 8:10 pm

    Oh my stinkin’ word. What a HORRIBLE afternoon.

    I pray you’ll be able to shake the emotions and the visual. I truly believe living in the aftermath of a traumatic experience like that can cause PTSD.

    SO GLAD everything is OK.

  6. Christa
    November 5, 2009 | 9:14 pm

    I read your blog all the time, and I love it. I’ve never commented. My little guy has done this, twice. Once with me, and once at Bible School, when I wasn’t with him. It is totally terrifying. I am so sorry it happened to you.

  7. Lisa b
    November 5, 2009 | 9:29 pm

    oh. my. god. Beck.
    I am impressed you can write about that so soon.
    I have had the same reaction to a shot, but not for years, so I hope she will grow out of it.
    Being calm and sitting down really helped me, so I hope, for all your sakes you can avoid this by doing the same because I cannot imagine how terrified you all must have been.

  8. MacKenzie
    November 5, 2009 | 9:57 pm

    Your poor girl. Major fainting episodes like that are not fun at all. I’ve had a number of them. When I was a young girl I scared my mother half to death when I fainted and she couldn’t feel my pulse after I hit my elbow on a towel rack. But long term, no damage done. I just have to be aware of situations that might trigger it (shots, eye drops, dehydration).

  9. Michelle
    November 5, 2009 | 10:52 pm

    oh my goodness! I can’t imagine this is something you would ever be able to get over – that image you’ve left in all of our heads. I’m so so glad she is ok, but so sorry for the scare you all went through!

  10. Fairly Odd Mother
    November 5, 2009 | 11:23 pm

    Ohhhhhhhhhhh. I don’t even know what to say. I’m so, so, sorry–you must’ve aged 10 years in 2 minutes!

    And, this is totally an aside, but what was she saying to the nurse?!?!

    Deep breath—they say it’ll happen again? If there is any bright spot, at least you will be ready next time.

  11. rimarama
    November 5, 2009 | 11:45 pm

    So, so, so glad that it ended well. I think my heart skipped a beat, just reading this . . .

  12. Julie Bo Boolie
    November 6, 2009 | 12:07 am

    Thank God she’s o.k.. I can’t imagine but I’m in tears just thinking about it.

  13. Jennifer
    November 6, 2009 | 12:22 am

    I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight! I’m so glad things are ok. Hug tighter tomorrow.

  14. Sue
    November 6, 2009 | 12:35 am

    Oh Beck. Hon, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what’s worse – seeing that happen to your child or knowing it will happen again. So relieved to hear that she is o.k. tonight – my heart was in my throat as I read this. Shower her in hugs and kisses, if she will tolerate it. Take care, my friend.

  15. Painted Maypole
    November 6, 2009 | 1:01 am

    i’m glad i read first that she was better today. horrifying, beck, just horrifying.

  16. Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)
    November 6, 2009 | 4:05 am

    That is sooooo terrifying I cannot even begin to imagine it.

    I am so sorry that you had to have such a scare, but what a blessing that she is okay.

  17. badness jones
    November 6, 2009 | 7:19 am

    Oh Beck….I’m so glad she’s okay…I’ve never heard of such a thing…is it something that happens because of a pre-existing condition? And if it will happen again, what tools are they giving you to avoid and manage it? Hugs to all of you.

  18. Nowheymama
    November 6, 2009 | 9:18 am

    Oh, Beck. I am so upset yet so relieved. And ditto Badness Jones’ questions: what do you do if it (God forbid) happens again?!

  19. No Mother Earth
    November 6, 2009 | 9:37 am

    Oh god. Thank goodness all is ok now. My heart just sunk into my stomache reading this.

  20. Happy Geek
    November 6, 2009 | 9:39 am

    I can’t even imagine.
    So glad she is OK now.

  21. Marie
    November 6, 2009 | 5:42 pm

    I am so glad that she is okay. I cried reading this.
    I don’t even want to imagine what that must have been like for you.

  22. melissa
    November 6, 2009 | 10:20 pm

    how horrifying!

  23. edj
    November 7, 2009 | 5:58 pm

    Oh Beck!! I’m so glad I’m reading this after it’s over. I can’t even imagine! So very very glad that she’s fine, and wishing you a speedy recovery.

  24. Mozi Esmes Mommy
    November 7, 2009 | 7:54 pm

    How incredibly scary! Glad she’s in recovery…

  25. Ayalla
    November 8, 2009 | 12:52 am

    You must have been so scared. We went through something similar last winter. Our baby girl had bronchiolitis. Her oxigen level was dropping. Her body going limp, slipping away in my armes. I went cold, switched completely to auto pilot. I was singing to keep her concious while the nurse ran to fetch the doctor. And the intubation kit. We pulled through as well, but her limp little body is something I will never forget. I wish you and your little firecracker a wonderful, lively, noisy weekend.

  26. Liz
    November 8, 2009 | 8:57 pm

    How awful! SOOO glad to hear that she’s okay. And I have trouble with that passing out thing so you may find her episodes are more like regular fainting and less gray as she gets older. That’s easier to deal with.

  27. Amelia
    November 11, 2009 | 12:43 am

    I just read this and I am in tears. They should make them stronger, our babies. God should make them stronger. We shouldn’t have to worry about them slipping away in the blink of an eye. I am so, so glad she’s OK.

  28. varaa lennot
    April 3, 2012 | 7:41 pm

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