When I arrived in the Emergency room because I received a stat page, I saw a beautiful 6 month old baby lying on the gurney unconscious. Wendy’s parents were at her bedside. Wendy’s mom was pacing and as a mother of an infant myself, my heart broke for her.
The Emergency room paged Respiratory Therapy as a precaution because they had no clue why little Wendy wasn’t responding. The nurses were told that Wendy had been sick that day. Mom said Wendy was responsive and playing; when she walked into the room at some point, Wendy was unresponsive.
The Doctor began ordering tests to find out what was going on. He was suspecting a virus or something more severe, meningitis.
It wasn’t long after I arrived in the Emergency room that Wendy stopped breathing. Everyone who was working on Wendy felt a sense of panic but you always have to put that on the back burner and do whatever is needed to try and save a life.
An endotracheal tube was inserted by the Doctor and I hooked up the ventilation bag and began to manually ventilate Wendy so she could breathe.
The nurses hooked Wendy up to IV’s, drew blood, called X-ray and made sure all the appropriate tests were done. I continued to ventilate Wendy, begging silently for her to start breathing on her own. The nurses told me they were going to tend to some other patients while I continued to help Wendy breathe.
Suddenly I was alone with Wendy’s Dad
As I continued to squeeze my ventilation bag, I would continuously look up at her heart monitor, praying her heart didn’t stop next. Her dad stood on the opposite side of the bed from me and he became very chatty. I had no clue where mom had gone, she was no-where to be seen.
In the meantime, Wendy’s dad went on to tell me that he used to work in a hospital. I asked what he used to do and he told me he worked in a cafeteria. Honestly, I don’t remember much more… all I can remember is that Wendy’s dad seemed absorbed with himself as he paced and continued to talk so much my head began to spin. I remember thinking, “Why does he keep talking about himself, why hasn’t he put his hands on his infant daughter, hugged her, or ask one question about her?” I wanted to yell, “Would you just shut up and focus?!?” Obviously, I didn’t, that would not have been professional.
Normally, when we had a child or an adult who stopped breathing for unknown reasons, they would get life flighted to Cleveland. On this grim night, it wasn’t possible for a helicopter to fly in. We were in the midst of a winter storm and the conditions were not safe for a Helicopter. Instead, we had to wait for an ambulance to arrive and transport Wendy to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.
We were also short staffed that night, so I had to stay with Wendy until her transport ambulance arrived. Rainbow Babies and Children’s hospital always arrived with their own crew, which included Paramedics, a Pediatric nurse and sometimes a Doctor. The call was put in for transport about 10 pm that evening, Rainbow arrived a bit after midnight.
In the meantime
Wendy’s dad continued to talk and at some point he wasn’t even making sense. Since I was alone with Wendy at the bedside, I grew very uncomfortable with this man. I finally asked him if he would go find his wife and bring her back with him or to go take a break until the ambulance arrived. My gut was sending bad signals about him and I felt bad. He finally said he needed a break and I never saw him again.
The Ambulance finally arrived
It was sometime after midnight and Rainbow Babies and Children’s hospital finally arrived. I remember feeling such a sense of relief, I was relieved that a level one Children’s hospital was there for her and I was relieved that her dad didn’t return.
Two weeks later
I ran into one of the nurses who was on the night Wendy was brought into our Emergency Room and I asked her if she ever heard what ended up being wrong with Wendy? She said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I thought I told you?” The nurse went on to say, “They found out that Wendy had a brain hemorrhage and they had to bring her into surgery to drain the blood.” I asked the nurse if they knew what caused the brain bleed, even though I had a fairly good suspicion- Yes, she replied, “Her dad became angry with Wendy earlier in the day and shook her really hard then threw her into the playpen.”
The good news
Wendy made a full recovery and her dad ended up in jail. Children’s services were called and Wendy was put into Foster Care. I found out this was not the first incident with her dad, he had been abusive towards the mother too. Wendy’s dad was sentenced to Prison for a very long time. I heard someone ended up adopting Wendy because her mom had a pattern of living with men who abused women and children. I’m not sure if Wendy’s mom lost her other children.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
Shaken baby syndrome destroys a child’s brain cells and prevents his or her brain from getting enough oxygen. Shaken baby syndrome is a form of child abuse that can result in permanent brain damage or death.
You may not see any signs of physical injury to the child’s outer body. Sometimes, the face is bruised. Injuries that might not be immediately seen include bleeding in the brain and eyes, spinal cord damage, and fractures of the ribs, skull, legs and other bones. Many children with shaken baby syndrome show signs and symptoms of prior child abuse.
In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome, a child may appear normal after being shaken, but over time he or she may develop health or behavioral problems.
If you suspect a child is being abused, call Children’s services, don’t be afraid, you do not have to give your name and they must follow up. If you suspect a child is in imminent danger, call the police.
I felt relieved to hear Wendy had been adopted. I hope Wendy has had a beautiful life with her new family. Wendy would be an adult now, I wonder if she was ever told what happened to her? I hope her dad never had contact with her again. Wendy was one of the lucky children who survived this type of abuse.
Wendy may have been her father’s daughter by blood, but he was no daddy!