Mothers’ Stories

A silly pool game sent my daughter to the hospital

A silly pool game sent my daughter to the hospital
Published : June 08 , 2018
Latest Update : September 04 , 2021

By: Lacey Grace, mother of two

I contemplated whether or not this was worth posting, but I am where I am because of something another dad posted sometime last year. If I can even help save one child, this is worth it for me.

Here it goes... My daughter Elianna was playing with a pool noodle when she was swimming on Saturday, and as many children do, she was blowing into one end of the noodle to have water shoot out the other side. And by a complete freak accident, Elianna put her mouth to blow at the same time someone was blowing at the other end, causing the water to shoot directly down her throat. She threw up immediately but aside from that, nothing notable happened. (Read more: How Safe are Public Pools?)

Thirty minutes after the “accident” she was totally fine - playing, eating, etc. normally. Even the next day, she was fine. Monday came and she developed a fever. Kids get sick, this is normal. I didn’t think much of it. On Tuesday, she slept most of the day but still looked fine overall. I sent her to school on Wednesday and got a call in the afternoon that her fever was back.

I kept replaying that pool incident in my head and remembered reading a story last year about a father in Texas whose son passed away because he wasn't treated properly after inhaling a bunch of pool water. I wasn’t going to let that be Elianna.

We went from school immediately to the urgent care, hoping the doctor would say that her lungs seem great, it’s just a viral, etc. We were there for about 10 minutes when the doctor told us to get her to the nearest ER as soon as possible. Her heart rate was crazy high, oxygen was low and her skin was turning purple which suggested chemical infection.

Went to the nearest ER where they did an X-ray for her chest that showed inflammation and infection caused by pool chemicals.

Two hours later they transferred her by ambulance to a larger hospital so they could monitor her around the clock and have pediatric specialists keep an eye on her. She began treatment in the ambulance on the way over.

LONG STORY SHORT, Elianna has aspiration pneumonia and is now on oxygen and relying on it to breathe. They’ve tried to remove the tubes and give her a chance to breathe on her own, but her oxygen levels drop quickly. She’s had her second dose of antibiotic, but we haven’t seen much relief yet.

Her fever has continued. Her heart rate has lowered so that is the only good news so far. At least two doctors now have told us, “Thank God you got her here when you did.” All her major symptoms are the ones you wouldn't notice just by looking at her. 

If your child inhales a bunch of water and something seems off, I encourage you to immediately get help. I wonder if I would have taken her Monday, would she be in a better situation? And I wonder what would have happened if I waited any longer. It’s so scary.

For now, we just pray that the antibiotic works quickly, and her lungs can find a way to get rid of the pool chemicals. They will keep us in the hospital until she’s fever-free for 24 hours, her chest X-ray comes back clear and she can sleep fully through the night without her oxygen levels dropping so drastically. If she requires more than three litres of oxygen, we will be transferred to Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. We don’t know how long the road will be, but I thank my lucky stars that I read that article about the little boy.

I will find that article and write that dad a letter, I promise you. I would have never taken her to the urgent care without it and God only knows how this would have ended otherwise.


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