Croup Is An Evil Sleep Stealing Sickness

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shutterstock_135794801I can remember when my children were babies and I was trying to decipher their coughs.  Is this an upper respiratory infection?  Is he air-hungry?  Is he wheezing?  On the phone with my doctor, she described “stridor” (croup’s cough) as a barking noise.

“Are you asking if my kid is barking?” I repeated back.  “You mean like a dog?”

“No, actually, more like a seal,” the doctor responded.

My son got away without having croup for years.  It was my second child who first showed me what that barking sounds like about a year ago.  As soon as I heard her cough, I knew exactly what it was.  And the funny thing is, I never understood what they were asking, but as soon as I experienced it first-hand, I knew barking like a seal was the perfect description.

My daughter had a terrible case of croup and had to get an emergency injection of steroids to help open her airway.  For two nights I slept on the floor outside her crib, listening to her breathe.  I didn’t sleep until she was completely better and I hoped my brush with croup was over. After all, at this point I thought my kids were too old to have it.  Apparently not.

Last Thursday, my 4-year-old was sent home from school with a low-grade fever.  The next day he looked piqued but had no real symptoms to mention.  We hoped with one day to rest at home, he would feel better and go back to school the next day.

Saturday he was worse than ever.  That’s how you know they aren’t faking it, by the way.  If they are sick on a weekend, they are really sick.  He would be fine one minute and then the next minute his fever would spike to 102.  I assumed his body was just fighting something that needed to run its course.  But we still had no idea what that “something” was since there were no other symptoms.  Then Sunday night just before midnight as I was heading to bed, the tell-tale cough revealed itself.  It was croup.

Since he’s a little older (and his airway a little bigger) it didn’t get as scary as the first time I experienced croup with my daughter.  It was enough to hold him in the steamed up bathroom for 15 minutes.  Every two hours.  It was like the newborn phase all over again.

Every baby book and doctor website will tell you that croup gets worse at night, but no one explains why. Croup is a viral infection that attacks the vocal chords. Why would that get worse at night?  Maybe because croup is an evil sleep stealing sickness.  A torture device for parents. Isn’t it every parents’ worst nightmare that their child stops breathing in the night?  It kept me up for hours while they were infants, even when they were healthy.  Then croup actually threatens to mess with their breathing at night.  It’s just wrong.  I’m going to start a foundation to eradicate croup from the face of the earth. That’s what I need to do.

Or maybe I just need a good night’s sleep.

(photo: HUANG CHIH-MING/Shutterstock)