Continued from last posting…
Collet was asked what she could recall between Wednesday March 7 – Sunday 11, 2012. She said: “I noticed in Ezekiel’s eyes he may be getting sick again, maybe the flu”. She commented on how she thought again that previous Monday’s preschool playing was too much activity. By Thursday, it was more apparent he had the flu. Collet said Ezekiel was more content to stay in bed and watch “Backyardigans” cartoons on her laptop, rather than run around. She resumed the add-ons again into his smoothie. The symptoms of the flu waxed and waned over the week, and that by the time Sunday rolled around both mom and dad chose not to take Ezekiel out to church, remembering the too much too soon lesson the previous weekend.
Stiffness was explored, and Collet explained that his “tension” was not the stiffness as characterized by others, but what would be expected with flu. They saw this tension as a symptom of achiness associated with the flu that many were experiencing at that time of year. Ezekiel could go into the car seat, and on occasions when they traveled far, such as Lethbridge and Raymond, they chose to lay his crib memory foam on the back seat because he was irritated with being in the car seat. He looked uncomfortable and mom and dad risked comfort over safety. In fact, David testified that when the social workers informed them that they were under investigation at the hospital, David recalled his first fears were that this was because they as parents had mentioned the opting-out of a car seat when Ezekiel was fluey. It is against the law to do so.
When Monday saw no significant improvement, Collet called Terry the midwife/RN to come out and observe Ezekiel. Collet was pregnant and was due for her midwife checkup anyway. Terry came out with her husband who remained in the car during the home visit. Collet’s concern for his more than usual napping and flu like symptoms was in character. These parents are the kind of doting and extremely attentive kind. Any sniffle or bruise is reason for concern. Food must be as organic as possible. No artificial color or preservatives, and no “Blue Smurf” icing cake. Collet explained again that being 20 weeks pregnant made her emotional and exaggerated. Even Ezekiel’s croup a week earlier was “killing her”, she texted.
Terry checked over a sleeping Ezekiel, listening to his heart and lungs, checking his overall appearance, and reassuring mom that he looked fine. Terry had had a meningitis case come through the hospital weeks prior and suggested such. They both looked up meningitis online and reviewed the symptoms. Recognizing that Ezekiel had no fever, rash, seizures, convulsions, constant crying, vomiting, etc., the two of them thought if it were meningitis it would be viral. Terry said to Collet that if she were to bring Ezekiel into the hospital as he presented that day, they’d likely be sent home as having a cold or flu. In other words, this trained ER RN, who had a meningitis case in her hospital recently, could see no alarming symptoms. The websites also conveyed that viral meningitis was something that can be treated at home like flu, and typically resolves itself within a few days. They also read that other than the difference in symptom severity, spinal taps and cerebral spinal fluid cultures are the only medical diagnostic tools available to differentiate from the two. This is a painful and risky procedure, not high on the list of initial diagnostic orders.
Later that Monday, David’s dad came to give Ezekiel a blessing (a religious act consisting of prayers and anointing with consecrated oil). This grandparent will testify to his observations later in the trial.
Tuesday came, and Collet called the Naturopath to inquire about boosting Ezekiel’s immune system to fight off any viruses. They had been doing the olive leaf extract and wanted to know if they could do something else. Collet was encouraged to pick up some “BLAST”, an Echinacea product. David loaded Ezra into his car seat, and put the toddler memory foam on the seat for Ezekiel, and mom and him rode in the back seat together and dad drove. An hour later, Collet went into the clinic, paid for the BLAST, came out and gave some to Ezekiel. She drove to Superstore while David napped in the back with the boys. When Collet came back to their SUV, she observed the boys play-driving in the front seat. David complained his sleep was interrupted by Ezekiel’s insistence that he play with David’s lips, coaxing the usual sounds his dad makes when they play that game.
That evening, David encouraged Collet to participate in a church social for women. Ezekiel was doing very well, and Collet had been complaining that David had been away so much that Collet could use the break. Her reluctance was trusting David to do all the things Collet wanted done if he was going to tend the kids, especially pushing fluids on Ezekiel and administering more BLAST. Not an unusual concern for any mom; dads just don’t prioritize the same.
Collet called David from church about an hour or more after leaving the house, concerned as mentioned above. David shared he’d noticed an unusual but not alarming breathing pattern in Ezekiel: some fast shallow breaths, and some long deep breaths. Collet came home right away. She took Ezekiel out into the living room and had him sit up on her lap. While observing him he seemed to cough on some mucus so she took him to her bed and laid him on his side to help clear the phlegm. He stopped breathing! Collet called out to David who called 911. We all recall the recording where David is frantically running down the driveway to the property number on a sign at the edge of his driveway. Collet said that when David came into the room Ezekiel coughed up a large gob, and his breathing restored. We know this from the 911 recordings too. That is when David says they will take him into the hospital right way and the ambulance is not dispatched.
En route a mile from home, Ezekiel stops breathing again. David calls 911 again, and again we recall the recording of the call. Collet breaks down emotionally, as she takes the court through the most traumatic event of her life. She performed CPR as soon as he stopped breathing, and Collet was coached by the 911 operator until the ambulance arrived at the side of the highway. It isn’t until Thursday March 15th that these parents learn of the EMT’s “medical misadventure” in not getting an airway established in Ezekiel because of “destocked” equipment for 8 minutes 11 seconds. This vital equipment had been requested by EMTs for months with no avail. All necessary life saving breathing equipment missing in the ambulances were rapidly restocked one week after this event.
During cross-examination by the Crown, Collet was bullied and badgered to reveal the truth in the way they desired it to be told. The prosecutor went as far as suggesting Collet was lying to save herself. Collet defended herself believably, even explaining the contradictions in reports and statements as the result of trauma, sleep deprived fatigue, anxiety, and the robotic state she was in. She also explained that she had met with 8 doctors or social worker prior to being interviewed by the RCMP constable. She simply regurgitated the narrative as it was constructed in the highly focused, highly attentive to the negatives, details of Ezekiel’s last two weeks of health.
Collet asked her persecutor if he had “ever experienced something as traumatic as this”? This was in response to his insistence that lapses in her memory of four years ago was so she could protect herself today. Collet revealed that it isn’t just details of this event that’s missing. She said she couldn’t even remember certain things that do not pertain to this trial. The Crown mocked Collet as having no medical or psychological training to assert the effects of trauma on herself.
At a certain point in the insensitive questioning (bullying) of Collet, she responded emotionally, “no one wants a different outcome more than my husband and I”, “do I wish I had taken Ezekiel to the doctors sooner?” “Yes”. The judge granted a break to allow Collet time to compose herself. The prosecutors, who normally jump at the chance for bathroom and smoke breaks, chose not to walk through the stern-faced crowd. When court resumed, the Crown scoffed that as a mother she has no diagnostic power to suspect her child as coming down with a sickness by “looking into his eyes”.
Collet concluded her testimony at 3:08 PM. Although there was nearly two more hours of available trial time, the impact on the judge and jury of the emotional day led the judge to adjourn court until Monday 10 AM.