The Art of Coughing


It was a rough night. It’s hard caring for another sick person when you aren’t feeling so great yourself. Carys has a cold. That’s all it is, just a cold. But even the common cold can be dangerous to someone with little or no immunity.

I hate to say it, but when I was finally able to put Carys to bed last night, it was with a guilty sense of relief. She had been hard work all day; the poor little thing was so congested, she had had trouble eating, refused to drink, and I had the stress of trying to get all her routine meds into her, along with paracetemol and cough medicine. She cried a lot. She wanted to be held, yet pushed me away.

The coughing is always worse at night. Some of Carys’s reflexes are not very well developed; orally, she can’t suck or chew, and swallowing ย and coughing are weak.

I was anxious, because I was expecting it. At 11pm, just as I was making the decision to go to bed, the coughing fit started. A couple of big coughs, followed by a rapid succession of decreasingly smaller ones coming so fast, one on top of the other, she couldn’t draw breath in between.

I rushed into her room, but I couldn’t move quickly enough. Everything had slowed except the thudding of my heart and Carys’s coughing. I was shaking so much, I could barely unzip her bed tent to get into her. She was all tangled up in her blanket. I grabbed her and hauled her into a sitting position. She was just so heavy.

And that’s a give away sign, isn’t it? When a person becomes unconscious, they become unbelievably heavy, as their body loses control of its internal support system. She was completely unresponsive by now, and limp.

I was panicking, because this had happened too often before. Every time, I fear I may not be so lucky in getting her back.

I lifted her as well as I could and tipped her forward. I pounded between her shoulder blades, and rubbed her back, calling her name. And after what felt like the space of eternity, she stopped those lethal little coughs and began wailing weakly.

I held her for a while, and she drifted into sleep. She was breathing peacefully and regularly, so I lay her back in her bed, and went next door to my own. I was afraid to sleep in case it happened again and I might not wake to help her. I tried reading some of your blog posts, but I couldn’t concentrate. I tried typing comments, but I was still trembling too much, I kept pressing all the wrong keys, so I soon gave that up.

I lay down and just listened. Eventually, stress and exhaustion took hold, and the next thing I knew, I was waking to a silent house. The light was still on. My phone, still in my hand, told me it was 230am. I got up and padded to Carys’s bedroom door. She was still breathing. I went back to bed and slept till 6am.

Carys has so many serious medical conditions. We know one day, one of them will most likely take her from us. Our tiny CFC community has lost too many precious children in the past year. But often, deaths arise through complications borne of common ailments which the rest of us can easily fight off.

Coughs are annoying, and unpleasant, but they serve a purpose; they clear phlegm and mucous from our air passages, ensuring that we can continue to breathe and thus supporting our basic life functions. So coughing is good. Its a natural reflex we take for granted.

But the art of coughing is not something Carys ever mastered, and although she is growing bigger and stronger, I don’t think she ever will.

46 Comments on “The Art of Coughing

  1. Wow, Ali. I’m so sorry to hear about Carys’ cold and the resulting problems. I can only imagine how hard these things are on you as well as Carys. You handled it so well – with bravery, determination, and love – and you may have saved her life. I’m so glad to hear that Carys is feeling better now and that you are both getting some much needed sleep.


    • Ah thanks Rachele! Didnt feel brave though… quite the opposite! She did it again last night but didnt faint this time. She scares me! But shes on the mend so hopefully no more episodes! ๐Ÿ˜Š


  2. only just catching up on your posts. I don’t even know what to say. horrific. I can’t imagine the panic you must of felt. I read wide eyed and panicked the entire time. I am beyond relieved that she is ok. sending her healthy get well wishes – and to you. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, its true. I used to write as a young teenager, and for a short time joined a writing circle when I was 22, but never really thought anything of it until after Carys was born.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Ali, I felt your terror – how very awful for you! Loss of breath is such a frightening thing both for you and the person it’s happening to. Poor Carys, I’m glad to hear she is feeling better and you can all sleep easier. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, that’s exactly why I took up writing in the first place. It helped me cope. I let my mum and friends read them to help them understand why I was like I was. I couldnt talk about any of it without crying in those days! My blog, my books all grew from there. I wouldnt be a writer at all if it wasnt for Carys. I keep on writing about my life with Carys because it still helps me personally to do so, but also in the hope that it raises general awareness and understanding, and also because reading other families experiences have helped me enormously, and maybe reading mine might help someone else who may be going through something similar.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh gosh Ali, the things we take for granted. I think about you and Carys all the time and pray that all is well with you. I admire all you are able to accomplish and the pluck that Carys has. I hope that this cough will move on quickly and leave her breathing without obstruction soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. We had a MUCH better night last night. ๐Ÿ˜Š Its so much easier to cope when you get a good nights sleep, isnt it?


  5. My brother with asthma used to stop breathing and turn blue. Rush to the hospital. Even once as a teen. Pretty scary.
    Cool sleeping environment best – adults can wrap up if cold, but kids need cool – maybe a cool mist.
    Little ones are so miserable when they are so sick and can’t sleep. You feel so helpless.
    Take care and rest when you can. You have to take care of yourself to take care of her.
    Hugs and healing energy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That healing energy must have worked. She is starting to improve and we had a much better night last night. ๐Ÿ˜Š My sister was seriously ill with asthma as a child. She had her last major attack when she was 14. They say it comes in 7 year cycles, have you ever heard that? Or am I just going mad? Actually, maybe dont answer that… lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so sorry Ali not that it will be of any comfort to you.You must be exhausted and worried sick. I hope the cold will soon pass and you’ll be able to rest properly.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I feel for you. Took my daughter to the ER one time for croup and strider, traffic was so heavy it took over an hour n a half, she fell asleep and was fine on the drive. They gave her an injection of steroids for the inflammation and it never happened again. Colds seem to be her weakness, so she must not overtire and get sick. We both know that.
    Heat is bad, more cool temps are good for the lungs. (That’s what an ER nurse told me, so no bundling).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well thats good to know, I wasnt aware of that. I feel the cold so always try to wrap her up, since she cant tell me. Hope your daughter is keeping well. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the heat dilates everything making inflammation worse. They had me take my daughter into the shower with a cool mist and then outside in the cool morning air. Of course, I had her bundled that night in a flannel onesie with feet.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. It sounds as though you have all the same problems, instinctive reactionson your part, and lack of response on Carys’s as you would with a tiny premature baby. Except Carys is so big and strong now, and heavy. Sympathy doesn’t do much good, I know, but you have mountains of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh Ali, there’s nothing that can be written that will help. Your post had me in tears for you and at the memories it called back up too. I can imagine how anxious and exhausted you will be… and how that comes way down your list of priorities.
    Just hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ali I do empathise, my grandmother was asthmatic and my sister was and it began when she was about 3 years old and that is 70 years ago before drugs were really available. Breathing is so fundamental to our survival that it must be terrifying.. but you are her mum and you were there with her.. I am sorry that it takes such a toll on you but I know that apart from curing Carys you will do whatever it takes to make her life a happy one.. I hope that she is over this cold quickly ….massive hugs.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Sally. My sister was also very ill with asthma as a child. When she was two, she almost died. One of my earliest memories is being lifted to a window and looking into a hospital room where my sister was in an oxygen tent. I would have been about three.

      Liked by 1 person

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