On this day, April 24, 2010 – 7 years ago:
Life in the country in rural Nebraska was quiet with many hours spent outdoors making our own entertainment. My kids were quite good at finding something to do on our land. Every day Konnor, 6 years old at the time, had a BB gun and pocket knife in tow from the minute his feet jumped off of the school bus until I called him in for supper. He was a natural born adventurer and outdoorsman.
On this particular day, Konnor got grounded for playing rough with his little brother. On the rare occasion that Konnor got grounded, his BB gun was the first thing to go. It was his most prized possession. While I was busy cooking supper, Konnor came rushing into the kitchen coughing a beastly cough, which wasn’t that unusual as he was born with Asthma.
“Mommy, I swallowed a BB!” he mustered between coughs and gags. We rushed to the bathroom, as his coughs soon forced him to gag and throw up continually from the intensity.
After getting the full story, I determined that he must have inhaled the BB into his lung. He had made a pea shooter out of a straw and a BB. I called my husband at work first to explain the situation and ask his advice.
“He just swallowed it, honey. He will pass it in a couple days…kids swallow things every day. No need to worry.” said Jeremy. I hung up surprised and frustrated with his lackadaisical response.
Konnor was forcefully coughing for 30 straight minutes when I called the nearest hospital which was in a small town-11 miles away. The nurse assured me that the BB most likely went into his stomach and that he would pass it in a few days. I asked to speak to the on-call doctor.
“I’m sure it’s fine, he will pass it in a few days. It’s very unlikely he inhaled it into his lung.” said, the doctor in a calm, cool voice. “I am just not comfortable with this. I would like an X-Ray to prove its location, so I can sleep in peace tonight. I know something isn’t right. I can feel it. I’m bringing him in.” I said.
We checked into the ER 30 minutes later. By this time his cough had completely resolved with the use of his asthma inhaler, creating more doubt in the emergency staffs’ minds. “Well, you will have to wait in this office, as we have serious emergencies to deal with first.” I remember the ER nurse saying as she directed us to a small administrative office. Konnor curled up in a corner chair with Frank, the big, floppy-eared, stuffed puppy that he slept with every night. Doubt started to creep into my mind as I looked at my sweet boy, smiling at me, talking to me…he couldn’t have really inhaled a BB, right? Maybe everyone was right, maybe I was overreacting. But I still had a slight tugging deep down in the pit of my stomach reminding me that I was there for a reason. Whatever the outcome, I needed a definite answer.
(Konnor waiting in the ER for his turn)
We waited nearly two hours in the office. Konnor drifted off to sleep, time and again, between the beeps and noises of the ER startling him awake. It was finally our turn. The doctor assessed him and said she would do an X-Ray to appease me. A few minutes later, the entire situation went from calm to very urgent and serious as 2 nurses and the doctor rushed into the room, exclaiming that the BB was in fact, in his left lung. After a brief explanation from the doctor, the nurses grabbed Konnor by his ankles and held him upside down as the doctor pounded on the left side of his back with her fist, trying to dislodge it. While rather unconventional…if this would work, we could avoid surgery. Konnor was so scared and confused. The doctor did another X-Ray to see if the BB had changed location, hoping Konnor could expel it with a cough. With no change, she called Children’s Hospital in Omaha and called for an ambulance to transport him there for surgery.
I will never forget that somber four hour drive to Omaha in the middle of the night, wondering how this happened, how they would remove it, and what would have happened had I listened to everyone else, and not the nagging feeling in my gut telling me something wasn’t right.
We entered the ER of Children’s Hospital at 3:20 am. “The BB Boy is here.” the receptionist said as she phoned the nurses station to tell them of our arrival. Those words rang in my ears. This was really happening.
(Konnor waiting to go into surgery at Children’s Hospital)
Konnor had surgery a few hours later. A team of doctors removed a BB from the lower lobe of his left lung. They handed me a jar containing the BB and gave us the rundown of how surgery went and how recovery was going.
I was told how serious this could have been had we not found it right away, more times than I could count, during our stay at Children’s Hospital, given his already compromised respiratory system. Konnor was a celebrity there. Numerous doctors and medical students popped into his room to meet the dubbed BB boy and to ask our permission to examine the unbelievable X-Ray.
My son was safe and healthy, with a fully functioning and in-tact lung because I listened to my mother’s intuition and I acted on it.
It has been said that the most dangerous place to stand is between a woman and her child. I wonder when that maternal instinct is born, perhaps while carrying the baby in the womb for 9 months. Mothers have been known to fight for and protect their young with superhuman strength and ability that defies all logic. Perhaps it is a phenomenon that can be explained away by research and science. Perhaps it is a gentle nudge from God, saying “Pay attention!”. Whatever the case may be, my mother’s intuition has proved itself time and again as a trusted compass, guiding me in this season of my life.