Beau’s Story

Beau’s Story

By: Ashley Peterson

I’ll never forget the morning that changed my outlook on life forever. I was sitting on the floor of my living room, nursing my youngest 2-month-old son, when my 3 ½-year-old son, Beau came tearing out of his room shrieking in panic and pain. He cried to me, ‘Bubba, owie, owie!’.  I pulled him into my lap and kissed his forehead and asked what happened, and normally this was all it took to fix any ‘owie’ he got. Whether it was after surgery, a fall, a stomach bug, everything was always fixed when I put my arms around him and just cuddled him. This was very different. He would not relax in my arms, he was stiff, jerky, could not get comfortable. He kept screaming and crying and I began to become alarmed. He could not calm down enough to tell me what exactly had happened. I could only make out that he had fallen off his bed and pointed at his chest and stomach as the sources of pain.

My husband walked in the door from work shortly after and I had decided to take Beau to the local ER to make sure he hadn’t suffered a concussion or something else. Right before we walked out the door, Beau vomited everywhere. At the ER they scanned his stomach and abdomen, checking to make sure no organs had ruptured in the fall. While we were there, he continued to vomit. Although he had no fever, we were discharged within an hour with a few Zofran to help with his vomiting and the comments that he may have just fallen on something or it could be the flu.

Once home, Beau continued to cry in pain, could not get comfortable and could not keep anything down and continued to vomit. I’d been noticing since the hospital there were dark flecks in his vomit (that was pretty much the only thing in them) and had noted how odd it was because he hadn’t eaten anything besides a waffle that morning and that was long since upchucked, so I couldn’t figure out what was still in his stomach. Now looking back, I know that it was the corroded tissue and lining of his esophagus. After 4 hours of no improvement and continued vomiting, despite doses of Zofran, and him still screaming in pain and telling me, ‘I’m not okay. I need to go to the doctor. I’m not okay.’ I knew something was not right, and it was not something viral. Beau was a strong kid, he had a ridiculous pain tolerance. He’d had 3 surgeries by the time he was 2 ½ years old, and he’d never even had doses of Tylenol afterward. Each time, by the time the anesthesia wore off, he was back to his old self. I knew that if he was still this immobilized by pain hours later, something was very wrong. So we went back to the ER. This time they gave him a CT scan, which was horrifying, and stated it was probably a coincidence and a virus, and to just make sure he didn’t get dehydrated. We were discharged and back at home, Beau fell into a fretful sleep for 2 hours.

When he woke up he was completely frantic and crying and vomiting. He still hadn’t been able to keep anything down and it was about 10 hours since the ordeal began. I went into his room at that point determined to find out if there was ANYTHING in there he could have ingested that maybe was obstructing his digestive tract or poisoning him. The only thing I found was a booklight that he kept in his room to read himself to sleep. The back was off and there were 2 empty spots for 3v lithium button batteries. I only found 1. I held up the battery I found and saw little impressions that looked like teeth marks. I started to panic as I held it up to him and asked if he knew where the other ones were. His eyes got wide and he instantly lost control and began blubbering incoherently and would not calm down until I put the battery out of his sight.  I instantly knew whatever was wrong had to do with this battery, but I thought the worst thing that was possible was that it was lodged in his GI tract somewhere and would need to be removed. I had no idea that it was currently electrically searing a hole through his esophagus and getting closer and closer to killing him as I stood there and tore my house apart at 11:30 on a Thursday night trying to find the missing battery. 

I woke up my husband hysterical and sobbing, begging him to find the battery so that I could relax and believe this was truly just a stomach virus. As he searched I made the mistake of getting on Google. What I found horrified me. Countless stories and CAPS LOCKED WARNINGS about the lethal effects of ingested batteries on children, in a fraction of the hours that one had probably been in my own son’s system, had me at a complete loss and I wished I could just put my hand down his throat magically and pluck it out. I couldn’t believe that there was something like that in my son and I could do NOTHING but watch him suffer and pray that I wasn’t too late.

We tore back to the ER. We raced in and told them we now were almost positive what was wrong was that he’d swallowed a battery. The nurse obviously had no idea how serious this was as she stuck us in a room, told us that he’d already had a lot of radiation today, and we should probably just go home because it was most likely just a virus. Finally, an x-ray was taken, and I’ll never forget looking up with Beau in my arms and my heart sinking as I saw the prominent outline of what I knew was in there.

We were on the AZ/Mexico border. 1 ½ hours south of Tucson, the closest children’s hospital. I felt that we would Medevac up there, they would surely know that every minute counted.  Instead, we waited 45 minutes for an ambulance to get there, so that we could drive the speed limit through the canyons. I was sobbing and praying on my knees next to my son who was now completely passed out from the pain and exhaustion. My husband was weaving behind us with our 2-month-old son in the back seat. At this point I was well aware my son was in the fight of his life and we would be lucky to walk away from this at all. I couldn’t even get my hopes up that we would walk away with our lives unchanged. When we walked in the doors of TMC, the nurses had already pushed my son to the beginning of the surgery list, assured me that would make sure he was fine, and had us settled into a large, private room. Beau was in surgery within an hour and before they took him back, the surgeon asked us if we had any questions and I just remember staring at him and begging him to hurry so that Beau wouldn’t be hurting anymore. I vaguely remember them warning us about possibilities of perforations, the fact they wouldn’t be able to do much more than pull the battery out, hopefully, with a scope because generally in situations like this the lining is so damaged, they could do more harm than good. I remember going to the bathroom in the waiting room and vomiting and praying. I remember calling my mom sobbing, asking her how she got through it when my brother had a massive stroke when he was 14 and she didn’t know if he would be okay. 

In a short amount of time our surgeon was back in front of us showing us a blackened, charred circular object that barely resembled a battery. It had been in Beau for 20 hours and was unrecognizable. He was telling us that a lot was still hanging on what they discovered at the swallow test. The little bit of his esophagus he saw was badly burned, but that he had seen worse, and we would take treatment options one day at a time. He shook his head and said he does not understand why battery companies don’t put some sort of coating on them to make them taste bad to discourage them from putting them in their mouths, or at least keeping them there. 

Beau woke up screaming for water. I had to tell him no. I cried as I told him because I could only imagine what it must feel like to have your throat with 2nd or 3rd degree burns and be told you cannot soothe it with water. The nurses called down to where they do the swallow studies.  When there was no answer, they physically walked down there to ensure Beau would be seen immediately so we could know the results as soon as possible. My heart was in my throat, as I soothed Beau and begged him to swallow the liquid, so we could see if there were holes in his esophagus. I had prepared myself that there would be some because how could we be so lucky as to walk away from this without one. Miraculously, there were none. However, the erosion was severe, and we were told he would only be allowed to have clear liquids until further notice. 

I was nursing his younger brother, and I’d actually only weaned Beau a few months earlier, and from all of his surgeries, I knew breast milk was deemed a clear liquid, so I asked if I was allowed to give him that. I was sure that he would get more nutrition from that than water, and I also had hopes that maybe it would coat his throat and help it heal faster as well as keep out infection. His doctors loved the idea and encouraged me to do just that. Beau begged for food but was satisfied with just ice and breast milk. He was given an antacid while we were in the hospital, but that was the only medication. 

We were in the hospital a total of 4 days, while they kept him under observation. By the time we were released, Beau was allowed to eat any foods that were the consistency of baby food.  Unfortunately, Beau has sensory issues and an extreme gag reflex to any foods with this consistency, so he mainly stuck to breast milk and mashed french fries and beans. We were told to stick to that diet for a few weeks until a follow up. When we were released I remember asking what I should watch out for. They said often after an injury like this, scar tissue will build up and close off the esophagus so that his surgeon wouldn’t even be able to fit the tip of a pen into the hole. If this happens he would need a surgical procedure to stretch the tissue back out.  All I could do was watch for signs that Beau was choking. 

The next few months were hard. I was so paranoid about a stricture forming, or when Beau would get a cold and a cough, that the cough would put too much pressure on his damaged throat and it would cause it to blow. There is nothing like knowing your child is dying to make you realize just how devastating and unimaginable the possibility of losing them really is. Every time I walked into his room for weeks afterwards, I wasn’t able to breathe. I would start to panic and would have to close my eyes and remind myself that he was healing now. For Beau, it wasn’t any easier. He was unfortunate to be past that magical age of 3, where they suddenly start remembering things long term. His nightmares were horrible. His screams of sheer terror woke us up every night for months. He would come tearing out of his room, sliding as he made the turn into the hallway trying to outrun whatever monster was suddenly chasing him.  He seemed to have realized he wasn’t invincible, and fear was an emotion that was new to him.  Slowly they began to subside, and randomly Beau began to talk about the whole experience.   

It’s been almost 10 months, and I won’t allow anything that has those batteries in them into my house. It seems everything they are in have the flimsiest battery covers known to man. I can still not wrap my head around the fact that something so lethal is so accessible and I had no idea I was placing it into my child’s hands by giving him a book light. Beau is back to eating a normal diet, although his gag reflex is even more sensitive now. Our family will never be the same, and although it taught me a new appreciation for my life and the health of my children, it was an unnecessary injury to my child that could have been avoided if I’d known it was possible.   

Every time I look at Beau I know that we are unbelievably blessed that our biggest scars were some months of nightmares and a few weeks of a restricted diet. I believe that because he was older, and his esophagus was bigger, and he was able to tell us just how wrong something was with him, he was able to survive and fare better than those kids who are younger with the same injury. Now that my youngest is turning one, I keep picturing what it would be like if it was him.  There are so many things that happen to our kids that are out of our hands, sickness, disease, etc. that to have a danger out there that is preventable if parents are only made aware of its existence, seems like a crime to me. With the use of button batteries on the rise, so is the danger they put our kids in.

Beau’s Story

Beau's Story By: Ashley Peterson I’ll never forget the morning that changed my outlook on life forever. I was sitting on the floor of my living room, nursing my youngest 2-month-old son, when my 3 ½-year-old son, Beau came tearing out of his room shrieking in panic...

read more

Sophie’s Story

Sophie's Story By: Shea (Sophie's Mom) Sophie put a button battery in her nose in January on a Sunday afternoon. I took her to Urgent Care that same day. The doctor tried to remove it (as we all held her down). He said he heard a clink but refused to do anything else....

read more

Emmett’s Story

Emmett's Story Saturday, October 16th, 2010 was supposed to be a day of celebration. We were going to celebrate our son Emmett’s first birthday with a party for him and his brother Ethan, who was turning three. That morning Emmett woke up with a fever and was acting...

read more

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Sophie’s Story

Sophie’s Story

By: Shea (Sophie’s Mom)

Sophie put a button battery in her nose in January on a Sunday afternoon. I took her to Urgent Care that same day. The doctor tried to remove it (as we all held her down). He said he heard a clink but refused to do anything else. She had to see an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor (ENT).  That night was one of the worst nights of my life. We did not know what she put in her nose, so when she would scream uncontrollably we would just do our best to console her. Needless to say, she was being shocked and we didn’t know it. When the ENT saw her the following afternoon we held her down AGAIN and he looked with his microscope. All he saw was bodily fluids surrounding the item, he didn’t see the battery. She was scheduled for surgery the next morning. So that night was worse than the night before, she was exhausted and feverish. She was moaning non-stop. I just held her and rocked her.

When the ENT came out of surgery he was stunned. He had no idea that it was a battery. Not only was she being shocked, but the battery was also cracked and was leaking battery acid. She had 3rd-degree burns. She was in danger of separating her septum as the burns were severe.

We had nightly treatments that haunt me to this day. I had to hold Sophie and flush her nostril three times and follow with a think anti-biotic cream. She would scream! She was on antibiotics for 4 months. She had to have surgery every two-to-three weeks. It got to the point that the nurses and anesthesiologist all her knew her by name. Her hospital stays lasted about 4 months total.

We are still recovering physically and emotionally. Every time she has a stuffy nose she screams. It is difficult to tell whether or not the congestion is uncomfortable or if there is a real problem. I am not sure if she will have to have any additional surgeries. Time will tell. The ENT believes that we may have saved her septum. There was a time that we almost had to go to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham to have reconstructive surgery planned. The ENT gave it one more week with extra flushing and ointment. It seemed to slow down the scarring.

I wish the battery makers would consider making a battery that was not as toxic as the button battery.

Beau’s Story

Beau's Story By: Ashley Peterson I’ll never forget the morning that changed my outlook on life forever. I was sitting on the floor of my living room, nursing my youngest 2-month-old son, when my 3 ½-year-old son, Beau came tearing out of his room shrieking in panic...

read more

Sophie’s Story

Sophie's Story By: Shea (Sophie's Mom) Sophie put a button battery in her nose in January on a Sunday afternoon. I took her to Urgent Care that same day. The doctor tried to remove it (as we all held her down). He said he heard a clink but refused to do anything else....

read more

Emmett’s Story

Emmett's Story Saturday, October 16th, 2010 was supposed to be a day of celebration. We were going to celebrate our son Emmett’s first birthday with a party for him and his brother Ethan, who was turning three. That morning Emmett woke up with a fever and was acting...

read more

Home  |  Emmett's Story  |   About Button Batteries   |   What We Do   |   Newsroom   |   Contact Us

 

Emmett's Fight Foundation is a 501(c)(3) registered charitable organization EIN#45-1571817
© 
2019 Emmett's Fight Foundation. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

 

Emmett’s Story

Emmett’s Story

Saturday, October 16th, 2010 was supposed to be a day of celebration. We were going to celebrate our son Emmetts first birthday with a party for him and his brother Ethan, who was turning three. That morning Emmett woke up with a fever and was acting unusual. When his symptoms intensified, we felt he needed to be seen by a doctor. My husband Michael took Emmett to the urgent care, where he was diagnosed with either the flu or a possible reaction to recent vaccinations. Over the next two days, he became lethargic, was coughing up lots of mucus, had no desire to eat and was unable to sleep. We decided he needed to be seen by his own pediatrician, but while we were getting ready to leave, Emmett started vomiting up blood.

After hearing Emmetts symptoms, the pediatrician immediately sent us to the Emergency Department (ED). When we arrived, Emmett was given two breathing treatments and the physician ordered a chest x-ray. The x-ray showed that an object was lodged in his esophagus. I was shocked because there had been no sign of him choking on anything. The doctor informed us that the object in Emmett’s throat was a button battery and that the radiologist was able to identify the serial number of the battery in the x-ray. I was sick, taken aback, confused, ashamed, embarrassed, lost, angry, sad, hopeless and nervous.

An ambulance rushed us to Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) where we met Dr. Egan, a pediatric trauma surgeon. Within 20 minutes of our arrival to PCH, Emmett was rushed into the operating room for the removal of the button battery.

Three hours later Dr. Egan came to inform us of the damage that had been done to Emmett’s poor little body. His esophagus was severely burned. Emmett was not able to breathe on his own, so a ventilator was placed for his breathing support. Each day in the Pediatric ICU (PICU) was critical. Emmett was in severe pain which required lots of sedation and pain management.

A few days later when the doctors examined his airway they found that the damage was more severe than expected. The battery literally burned a hole through his esophagus into his trachea (airway) allowing his stomach bile to reflux into his lungs. Emmett had a stent placed but the procedure was unsuccessful. We felt so hopeless. After the failure of the stent, doctors removed two inches of Emmett’s esophagus and it was rerouted to the side of his neck, called an Esophagastomy. The other end of the esophagus that was attached to his stomach was stapled shut. His trachea was patched with nearby tissue to close off the airway leak. What was supposed to be a 2-hour surgery turned into a 9-and-a-half-hour surgery!!

Emmett had a feeding tube (G-tube) placed, necessary for 100% of his nourishment since his esophagus was temporarily non-functional. After five weeks in the PICU, Emmett was finally sent home. He required occupational, physical, speech and swallowing therapies each week.

After 5 months of being home, Emmett went back to the operating room to have his esophagus reattached. There were many concerns about reattaching the esophagus since two inches had been removed, but to all of our amazement the two ends of the esophagus joined together perfectly. Then, five days later, Emmett’s vital signs became unstable. A test revealed a large leak in his newly repaired esophagus. He was rushed back into the OR where multiple surgeons consulted on prognosis and treatment. Because this was such a rare case, physicians from out of state where contacted and together they devised a plan to repair Emmett’s throat.

After many ups and downs, by the end of March we were able to bring Emmett home. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that he could not tolerate the formula that he was being given via his G-tube. He was vomiting up the majority of his meals and eventually developed pneumonia.

On June 7th, 2011, nine months after the accident, a new fistula (hole) was discovered. The hole, however, was in a completely new location. The physicians believed that the damage was created when the button battery was ingested, but the tissue did not give way until Emmett started vomiting in March.

On July 20th, Emmett went back into the operating room. The plan was to replace the damaged section of his esophagus with a section of his stomach and patch his trachea to prevent further leaking. The surgery lasted 10 hours. It was a very long day for everyone, and just the beginning of another few months in the PICU. 

We were so excited that Emmett made it home for his second birthday. We celebrated with family and dear friends, enjoying every moment that we had together as a family under one roof. Unfortunately, Emmett’s fight wasn’t over yet. Soon after his birthday he ended up back in the PICU in respiratory distress. This visit lasted about 3 weeks when we were delighted to bring our Emmett home again.

After months and months of sleepless nights, Emmett’s Pulmonologist Dr. Rao suggested we open our home to invite nursing care at night for Emmett. I broke down in tears, exhausted from so many nights awake, trying to sleep in a rocking chair, just to be near his crib. Michael and I hoped that having a home health nurse would help keep Emmett home from the hospital.

Two weeks later, Emmett went into extreme respiratory distress and was flown to PCH. His tiny fragile body seemed to be getting weaker and weaker as the days went by. He was working so hard to breathe that he couldn’t gain weight or build up a reserve for his body to thrive.

Michael and I called for a Multidisciplinary Care Conference. The verdict was to do a Tracheostomy. Our little Emmett was incapable of breathing on his own. When the trach was placed, and Emmett awoke from surgery, Michael and I instantly recognized a change in our little boy, he could BREATHE!

Emmett was sent home two weeks later right before Christmas with his new trach and a ventilator system. The ventilator gave his tired lungs and body a rest so he could finally sleep peacefully.

After the surgery, Emmett was hospital FREE for one entire year! It was a miracle. During that year Emmett learned how to walk, jump, and play. We went on a vacation and he began sleeping in his own bed. His medical care did not stop, but his life was improving. Emmett’s reconstructed esophagus continued to cause issues, requiring Emmett to undergo esophagus dilation under anesthesia every three weeks. The esophagus was not improving, and the aspiration of his own saliva was continuing to damage his lungs. Emmett’s wonderful Phoenix Children’s Hospital Team decided it was finally time for a second opinion and referred us to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. CCH has an advanced Aerodigestive Center that studies and treats critical airway, esophagus and lung issues and diseases. Emmett was an appropriate candidate for the program. 

After two visits to Ohio and many scopes, tests, and consults with the physicians, Cincinnati decided that Emmett’s entire esophagus needed to be removed and replaced with a portion of his bowel. The surgery is unique and has only been performed 150 times over the last 30 years in pediatrics. Cincinnati was just the place to have it performed. Michael and I prayed and felt that this was the best option for Emmett’s future. The surgery date was set for December 6, 2012.

Emmett was expected to be hospitalized for four to six weeks post operation. The surgery lasted for 14 very long hours. Emmett was taken up to the Pediatric ICU at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to recover. Emmett’s recovery was steady and he began healing at a rapid rate without infections or leakage at the surgical sights. Emmett was able to come home two days before Christmas, making his recovery time only two and a half weeks post operation. It was nothing short of a miracle.

In 2015 Emmett’s trachea needed to be repaired and once again he underwent another major surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The button battery had burned the nerves of Emmett’s vocal cords. This resulted in a bilateral vocal cord paralysis, which meant he needed a tracheostomy to breathe. In August Emmett had his airway repaired using a graft from his rib cage known as a Larynotracheoplasty (LTP) surgery. A stent was placed in his airway to give support to the new graft that was made to hold open Emmett’s vocal cords. Emmett was sent home to Phoenix to undergo a trach capping trial. His physician wanted to see if he could breathe on his own without the assistance of the tracheostomy. To our amazement, Emmett succeeded and On December 17th, 2015, his trach was removed, and he was finally able to breathe on his own. One more miracle in our little boy’s life.

Emmett continues to recover to this day and has many unknown health risks ahead. He is such a fighter, and as his family we will continue fight by his side.

We feel it is our mission to tell Emmett’s story and to spread awareness of the dangers of button batteries. The swallowing of this tiny battery has turned our world upside down. It has been years since his accident and we are still trying to repair the damage that was done. Let this be an eye opener to everyone; these tiny batteries are so prevalent in our daily lives and will continue to be as technology advances and electronics continue to get smaller. It is more than just putting the items out of arms reach, it is securing them with strong tape or super glue.

We encourage everyone who has small children to please do what you can to protect them and to help us spread awareness and recognition of button battery hazards. We thank you, Emmett thanks you, and the countless families across the United States who have been affected by a battery incident thank you.

Beau’s Story

Beau's Story By: Ashley Peterson I’ll never forget the morning that changed my outlook on life forever. I was sitting on the floor of my living room, nursing my youngest 2-month-old son, when my 3 ½-year-old son, Beau came tearing out of his room shrieking in panic...

read more

Sophie’s Story

Sophie's Story By: Shea (Sophie's Mom) Sophie put a button battery in her nose in January on a Sunday afternoon. I took her to Urgent Care that same day. The doctor tried to remove it (as we all held her down). He said he heard a clink but refused to do anything else....

read more

Emmett’s Story

Emmett's Story Saturday, October 16th, 2010 was supposed to be a day of celebration. We were going to celebrate our son Emmett’s first birthday with a party for him and his brother Ethan, who was turning three. That morning Emmett woke up with a fever and was acting...

read more

Home  |  Emmett's Story  |   About Button Batteries   |   What We Do   |   Newsroom   |   Contact Us

 

Emmett's Fight Foundation is a 501(c)(3) registered charitable organization EIN#45-1571817
© 
2019 Emmett's Fight Foundation. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use