Sammy has been a little under the weather for the last week or so. Last Monday he started to develop a cough and runny nose that got progressively worse throughout the week. Gretchen took him to the doctor on Friday and they said he just had a bad cold. He had a little bit of a fever but they just instructed us to keep using our snot-sucking-bulb and wait it out. Over the weekend he started losing his appetite and his fever got worse, but by Sunday morning it appeared that the fever had broken and he was finally feeling better.

That is, until he woke up at 3:00 Monday morning choking and gagging. He was sleeping in our room so we could keep an eye on him and we both got up to try to help him calm down. For about 20 minutes he was coughing and sputtering and trying unsuccessfully to catch his breath. He didn’t turn blue, but it was pretty clear that this situation wasn’t going to resolve itself so we called our doctor’s office. The 24 hour response line had a pediatrician call us, and when I explained what was happening she instructed us to go to the emergency room.

Upon arriving at the ER we were checked in and examined fairly quickly. Sammy was x-rayed to see if he had pneumonia and swabbed for RSV. Both tests came back negative and the doctor came in to explain the situation to us. “He was choking on snot”, he said. “He’s got too much snot.”

While it sounds comical to immature people like me, evidently such a prognosis is actually something to be taken very seriously. So seriously in fact that a respiratory specialist was called in to perform an advanced procedure called “sucking the snot out”.

A man in blue scrubs came in and started assembling a series of tubes and bottles. He then plugged this apparatus into the wall and fiddled around with a little dial for a few minutes. He turned towards us with what looked like tiny shop-vac in his hand and announced, “He’s not going to like this”.

He instructed us to hold Sammy’s head very still and proceeded to squirt something into his nose and then shove the attachment on the end of the mini-shop-vac into his nostril. We could see an absolutely incredible amount of phlegm being sucked through the clear hose and into a large phlegm-canister. “Wow”, said the respiratory specialist.

He did each nostril twice and each time I was amazed by the volume of snot that was removed. I only wish the phlegm canister had measurement markings on the side so I could give you an accurate figure.

Afterwards Sammy had a bottle and went to right to sleep. The specialist said “You’re welcome”, and that was that. Modern medicine is truly amazing.