I know the Riley updates are few and far between these days but the insight as to how Presley is doing…that’s non existent. She is such a huge part of this journey and quite frankly I’m a bit ashamed for not shining a big ol’ spotlight on how amazing she is. This past week that realization hit me…hard. She had a hospital stay of her own this year that I never shared…I wasn’t in a head space to write at the time and as I’ve said I’m slowly finding my way back to this screen. We all talk about Riley’s strength but let me tell you…Presley is every bit as badass.
Back in the Spring while we were weekending in Pebble Beach…what seemed like a common cold turned into a concerning cough and within about 20 minutes she was beyond lethargic and barfing into a bag while we changed course from the park to Urgent Care. My Mom and Riley sat in the car as I carried her in…I was told the wait time was an hour but as I sat there watching her breath move into her belly I realized I’d only ever seen one person breathe that way before…Riley…as her lungs collapsed. Was this PTSD? Was I projecting the seriousness of Rileys condition onto my “healthy” one? Possibly but that’s just not typically my style so I went with my gut, got up and insisted she be seen right away.
The doctor took one look at her and then locked eyes with me “Ok, Mom I don’t mean to scare you but…” …I cut her off…”I know…call an ambulance.” She turned on her heals and rushed to the front desk instructing them to get an ambulance with a respiratory team there right away and then came back and started breathing treatments in between her bouts of vomiting. My phone had no service in the room so there was no way to let my Mom know that her and Riley were about to see Presley wheeled out on a stretcher. Fuck. That’s not going to be good. I heard the sirens within minutes…as the clinic doors opened I saw the ambulance was pulled right next to my car. Riley screamed “PRESSSSLEYYYY” as she caught a glimpse of her face shrouded with an oxygen mask…I rushed over to them and tried my best to calmly explain to Riley “Presley’s ok…she just needs some help with her breathing and they don’t have the equipment here so we are going to take her up the street to a hospital.” She frantically responded “But Mommy, they don’t know her case…she has to go to UCSF…Mommy she doesn’t know how to do this…let me go.” [heart shattered] “Riley…baby…Presley doesn’t have “a case” she can be seen anywhere…she’s going to be just fine…I promise…she’s got this…I have to go with her now…I need you to be strong, ok? You guys are going to follow us.”
I hopped into the front seat of the ambulance and pulled out my phone to call Chris who was back in San Jose. “Hey.” He knew immediately something was wrong…”What is it Alissa?” …”Everything is going to be ok but I’m in an ambulance…with Presley.” …”What?…with PRESLEY?”…”Yeah…I know…it’s weird.” I gave him the cliff notes and told him to head down…Riley needed him. I hung up. Fear hit me hard. Harder than it does with Riley. My body knows how to respond to Rileys scares but this…I was thrown. Talk about a plot twist…was I going to lose Presley? Is THAT where my life leads next? Stop. Breathe. Right nostril. Left nostril. Breathe.
We got to the emergency room and Presley never once complained…after a pile of steroids and breathing treatments she was back to alert and honestly…a fucking champion. They placed an IV she didn’t make a peep…not one. She didn’t whine or balk at any of the poking and prodding the doctors did or fuss about the nasty meds she was choking down. We’ve always joked that we’re “lucky” Riley is the patient because well…Presley loses her mind after a simple toe stub, has got a flare for drama and holy hell is she stubborn but no…she proved not only me wrong but herself as well. You know that whole “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have” thing? She had no choice and she nailed it.
After several hours we ended up being transported in another ambulance to Kaiser Santa Clara…from the passenger seat I listened to the sounds of my “healthy” kid as she teetered between barfing and chatting with the seriously cute EMT the entire drive. I called Riley’s team on the way and explained what was happening to see if she needed to be on an additional prophylactic meds. The driver looked over at me after I hung up and said “I didn’t mean to ease drop but it makes a lot more sense now why you are so calm.” Yeah…not my first rodeo man. It was however Presley’s and she was just amazing.
Pneumonia and Bronchitis was the culprit…steroids and an inhaler the ultimate savior. It is truly amazing how fast a body can turn, how your breathe is really so fragile. I am so grateful I knew what to look for. Had I not seen that breathing in Riley before I don’t think I would have acted so quickly…been so insistent.
The whole experience ended up being a total blessing. Hearing Riley and Presley talk the next day was amazing. For the first time they were given the gift of the others perspective. They held each other so so tight and sweetly exchanged conversation…“Presley I was so worried!”…”Now you know how I feel EVERYTIME you’re sick Riley!” They discussed all the details of X-rays, Albuterol, ambulance colors and rolling around with an IV pole…they related…they could relate. They both agreed that it was easier to be the patient than the one home worrying. What a gift.
Presley still takes a back seat to Riley’s illness a lot…it’s just a fact…we all do. But she got a chance to see what shotgun was like and oddly enough I am so damn grateful for that. She got to see me walk away from Riley and care for her. She got to be my patient. She got to show me how strong she really is. I see you baby girl. I see you. Go Presley Go.
**Sidenote…Presley is very involved in The Mark Makers…she’s very clear that she will be running it one day so I’m pretty sure is making sure I don’t screw it up before she gets her chance 😉 She asks a million questions, is a fantastic sounding board/brainstorm buddy and is quite insistent on me beginning her teachings now. Last week she tagged along on infusion day and captured some shots of Riley and I. She then requested I teach her to edit them. This. Kid. She is such a little creative…such an entrepreneur…such a boss.
All images below were taken and edited 100% by 7 year old Miss Presley. I mean.