In mid-November 2003, Rachaeli began wheezing. Suddenly, she was working very hard to breathe; she then turned blue before our eyes. We rushed her to the emergency department at Children?s Hospital of Atlanta; she was admitted straight to the ICU. ?Severe Asthmatic Exacerbation? was the diagnosis of record. Our Pulmonologist gently suggested there must be some connection between her reactive airway symptoms and her developmental delays. Rachaeli was sent home 4 days later with nebulizer treatments and oral steroids. Our baby was 13 months old.
9 days later, on Thanksgiving night 2003, Rachaeli began coughing. We had been feeding her at the table, not yet aware that she was likely aspirating all along. Her coughing persisted, then progressing to wheezing and respiratory distress. Rachaeli was readmitted to the hospital, this time for 10 days. Our lives were about to change forever.
During this hospital stay, we pressed for a full medical work-up, hoping to identify the missing piece of her developmental puzzle. The MRI of her brain showed some signs of cortical atrophy. A swallow study demonstrated severe aspiration. An Ultrasound of her abdomen showed an enlarged liver. We now knew that the answers to our questions would be painful. We prayed her life would not be.