Monday, February 18, 2013

Out Cold

Matthew passes out.

He's done it four times.

The first time, he was still tiny. As he toddled around the room, he tripped and fell. It wasn't a bad fall but he's always been prone to the dramatic. He stood, mouth agape, flailing his arms, silent crying. I scooped him into my arms and told him to breathe. I blew into his face to try to shock him into taking a breath. He went limp in my arms. I panicked for three seconds before he took a deep breath and gasped air back into his lungs. Then he made a tiny sound, like a kitten, and looked at me with bewildered eyes.

My friend's son used to do this and, long before Matthew ever did it, she'd told me about how the doctor said it was really nothing to worry about. Once a kid passes out, their lungs involuntarily function. It's all part of God's great design. Otherwise, I don't know, maybe we'd all die the very first time we fell asleep.

He did it again, several months later.

Then, last summer, when my mother-in-law was visiting, we took a hike together. Matthew was running, tripped, fell over, and cut his nose on a sharp rock in the path. It was a surface wound but he "air" cried again until he passed out. Seconds later he was back.

The first three times were a result of pain. He doesn't always pass out when he gets hurt, of course, but these three times, he did.

Last night, after our life group at church, Matthew was playing in the sanctuary and I was standing in the foyer. We were about to leave so, in a playful voice, I yelled, "Hey Matthew, we're leaving. Bye bye," and I waved. He turned, dashed toward me, his mouth wide open, clearly trying to suck in air and, by sheer volume alone, let me have it. "Honey! I was just teasing!" I called out. He reached me, threw his arms around my legs, and stood there, with his mouth hanging open. "Wait for it," I told those around me, expecting an ear piercing wail. Immediately after I said that, he threw his body backward and hit his head on the ground. I instantly gathered him into my arms.

It happened so fast. Some people think he was in the act of passing out already and that's why he fell back and hit his head. Others think he didn't pass out until he was in my arms. I can't honestly remember. I know that he was limp in my arms. I also know that he didn't hit his head that hard. This time, though, he was out for more than two or three seconds. I'd say it was more like seven. I know because I don't panic anymore during the first few and I was starting to feel that anxiety rise up in my chest. Troy came to my side just as Matthew took a breath and opened his eyes.

That was the first time it's happened as a result of something other than pain. We monitored him last night. He said his head didn't hurt. His tummy wasn't upset. His pupils were fine. So with my medical training theatre degree I ruled out a concussion. He went to bed. He woke up. All's well that ends well.

Except I finally googled this ridiculous phenomenon and, apparently, it's called a Breath-Holding Spell (BHS). It can be genetic and it happens equally to boys and girls. There's nothing they really do for it and, supposedly, they outgrow it by age five. I should be thankful because many kids do this multiple times a week whereas my child has done it four times in as many years. Still, it's frightening.

So, yeah. Matthew passes out.

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