Kimberly Smith has her hands full as a single mom of three, so when she woke up one morning feeling unwell, she knew that being sick wasn’t an option. But as she plowed on through her day, the symptoms grew worse. And when her son came home from school, all she wanted was for him to do as he was told so that she could take a break. But this time, he refused to listen.
It was on March 2, 2017, that Kimberly woke up with a pain in her chest. Breathing was difficult, and her limbs felt weighed-down, too. She thought the symptoms may be related to a recent bout of pneumonia, but with a newborn son to care for, stopping for a rest was pretty much out of the question.
On top of the recent pneumonia, Kimberly had given birth to baby Dylan via caesarian section just a few weeks before. So, convinced that her symptoms were a combination of the illness, the c-section and the exhaustion of caring for a newborn, the 32-year-old waited for her two older sons to come home from school so that she could take a break.
Any mom would would appreciate an extra pair of hands, and Kimberly is lucky that her older sons know it. Nine-year-old Camdyn in particular has proven himself helpful with the newborn. He helps his mom by making up bottles at feeding time, for instance, and he even changes diapers.
But it’s not only his baby brother that Camdyn watches over; he has his mom’s back, too. So when he came home from school in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, that day, he knew that something was wrong. After all, his mom’s symptoms seemed to have gotten worse.
Indeed, Kimberly started clutching her chest and felt a sharp, stabbing pain with every breath she took. Yet although Camdyn was deeply concerned about her, she insisted that all she needed was a nap. So he took the baby while she prepared to sleep it off.
But the nine-year-old wasn’t entirely convinced; seeing the pain his mom was in, he was sure that she needed medical help. He told local television channel King 5, “I told her she needed to go to the hospital, but she kept saying she just wanted to stay here.” Camdyn, however, was having none of it.
And it wasn’t like him to be so belligerent; he’s an ordinary young boy who likes to quietly play video games with his 12-year-old brother, Bryson. Yet when his mom refused to get help, he took drastic action instead of respecting her wishes.
Choosing his own instincts, Camdyn defied his mom and told her to get in the car and drive. As he subsequently explained to King 5, “I kept saying that we needed to go. So I just went and got my shoes and coat on and told her we needed to go.”
It became obvious to Kimberly that Camdyn wasn’t going to give up the fight easily. Touched by how much he cared, Kimberly called her doctor to arrange an appointment, sure that it was just pneumonia. But when she described the symptoms, her doctor quickly requested an ambulance for her.
Kimberly was then rushed to Skagit Valley Hospital with Camdyn by her side in the ambulance. Subsequent examinations showed that the nine-year-old had every reason to be worried; his mom was diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary embolisms. Or in other words: blood clots on her lungs.
When doctors ran tests, they discovered that the young mom had a genetic predisposition. Her caesarian-section to give birth to Dylan, however, had heightened the risk. Putting it bluntly, her doctor revealed that if she had tried to “sleep it off” as she had planned, she might never have woken up again.
Kimberly consequently spent seven days in hospital so that doctors could monitor her condition. Then, when she was healthy enough, they allowed her to go home for the remainder of her recovery. Needless to say, mom certainly is grateful for her son’s defiance on this occasion.
As Kimberly explained to faithit.com in April 2017, “I thought, ‘You know what? I should probably listen to him, because he’s not normally so persistent.’” But what was it that made Camdyn insist that his mom go to the hospital? How did he know that there might be something seriously wrong?
As it happened, one of Camdyn’s teacher’s had actually had a similar experience. Timathi Fitzpatrick, his physical education teacher at Evergreen Elementary, had once experienced an embolism. And in telling her class about what had happened, she’d described to her pupils the symptoms to look out for.
Timathi told King 5, “It’s sometimes questionable whether they are paying attention. But something stuck with him pretty well.” In fact, paramedics were impressed by how calmly Camdyn handled what was no doubt a scary situation and noted how attentive he was toward his mom.
Even so, it doesn’t explain why Camdyn became quite so defiant when his mom – a pharmacy tech – said all she needed was some rest. He said he isn’t sure either, but as tears rolled down his face, it became obvious. Yes, it was simply how much he cares for her and that he didn’t want to see her in pain.
Kimberly is all too aware that the story could have had a very different ending. She told King 5, “If I had taken a nap, there’s a good chance it would’ve been a very different outcome. A sad one.” As it is, the mom-of-three is six months away from being back to full health.
“I never thought I’d be here,” Kimberly wrote on her GoFundMe page. “It was the single most scary thing I’ve gone through. The thought of not being with my children is heart wrenching!”
Speaking of her son’s defiance that day, Kimberly told King 5, “He is definitely my hero. They say your life flashes before your eyes, and it’s true. It makes you look at your kids in a whole different way.” She further explained, “I’m still getting teary-eyed about it. It warms my heart to know my children care for me so much.”