Every parent’s nightmare

I apologize for a few days of silence…again. But, as a parent of small children, I just go where life takes me. This week, it took me to a place I never care to go again.

I’m going to replay my Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011…more for a written memory for George, than anything. That way, when he’s a teenager and I’m wondering why I’m completely gray, I can look back at this blog and pinpoint the exact date each gray hair appeared. On Tuesday, approximately 57 of them popped in…actually, it was probably Wednesday.

Tuesday started out as a regular day. The weather was kind of bad, and the roads weren’t in the best of shape, so Mark ended up taking the boys into town to meet the bus. (Yep, in the tractor, isn’t Midwest life grand???)

George was to have the child-development/speech therapist come do her weekly visit that morning, but with the roads the way they were, we decided to push it back until after lunch. When she got here, we played a bit, but George wasn’t himself. After about 45 minutes, we talked about his upcoming Mayo trip and our plans for the future.

After she left, I planned on giving the boys a snack, then laying George down for a nap. Well, he dozed off while eating his snack, so I let him rest in his highchair for about 45 minutes. Thanks to EJ, he woke up with a start, but seemed a little better and wanted to play a bit. About an hour later, he was standing in the kitchen, when all of a sudden he just dropped to the floor. He cut open his lip and cried a bit, but I put a cold wash cloth on it and thought I would just keep a closer eye on him.

(One of our on-going issues has been his lack of balance at times. He has a tendency to run into things and bruise himself, but this was the first time that he just flat-out dropped.)

About 4 p.m., George seemed really cranky again, and very out-of-sorts, so once the boys got off the bus, I laid him on the couch to watch a cartoon for a bit. I thought he would rest a few minutes, and then be in a better mood. He dozed off, so I went to the dining room table to fold laundry. At about 5:30, I heard a noise that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I will never forget it as long as I live.

I ran into the next room and saw him lying on the couch, completely blue, stiff as a board, foam coming out of his mouth, eyes staring blankly into space. I grabbed him and ran into the bathroom, grabbing the phone on my way, dialing 911.

Now, before you think I jumped the gun, let me tell you that I am familiar with seizures. Big Bro has epilepsy and takes medicine for it. He had grand mal seizures from the age of 6 months until he turned 2 1/2. He would have seizures out of the blue, without rhyme nor reason, and they would sometimes last 3 or more minutes. But it wasn’t like this. Something told me that we needed help.

As I was talking to the dispatcher, I swept his mouth, making sure that he hadn’t accidentally swallowed something, or wasn’t choking, etc. As I was talking to her, (about 5 minutes had past) he seized again, this time more violently, and lasting longer. (Although, still probably only 2 minutes, but at this point, time seems irrelevant.)

It dawned on me that Mark didn’t know what was going on, and although he was feeding cows, he would probably be somewhat alarmed to be notified of the ambulance showing up by watching it come down the driveway. So I went into the kitchen, dialed his number on my cell phone and had Big Bro tell him that he needed to get to the house NOW, because the ambulance was coming for George.

Now, at this point in time, I’m beginning to come apart a little bit. I was doing my best to keep things together, but I had a feeling in my gut that things weren’t good. I had been finishing up supper, I had three boys that I was trying to keep calm and in the other room, and I had a little one that needed some serious intervention.

That’s when I noticed that he was starting to feel very, very warm. Mark finally got into the house, and since he had just come from outside, I handed him George, thinking that it would help cool him off. I grabbed the thermometer and took his temp, 103.8. At that point, we decided to lay him on the washing machine in the entry way, since it was the coolest room in the house. George was making noise, and moving his head somewhat, but his arms and legs were still very stiff.

When the ambulance arrived, the staff checked him over and assessed him the best they could. It was a consensus that he probably had a febrile seizure, but that I should call his pediatrician first, before they left, to make sure that he was OK with us keeping him home.

He wasn’t.

With George’s history, nothing is ever as easy as it seems, including seemingly innocent febrile seizures. (Which, by the way, aren’t all that uncommon, but still scare the beejeezus out of any parent.) So George and I headed to the hospital.

On the way down, George’s O2 sats would drop to the high-80’s, prompting him to get a nice blow-by of oxygen. (The friendly EMT is actually a old family friend, and he made a comment about meeting our deductible early this year, to which I replied, “We met our deductible about 10 miles back.”)

When we arrived in the triage unit, the doc met us immediately and ordered blood work, chest x-ray and then some tylenol to bring down the temp. At this point, it was already down to 102.9, but we tried the tylenol, which promptly came back up, and all over everything. (Note to self, next time just do the suppository first.)

The strep fast-test came back positive, prompting a night’s stay for observation and some antibiotics (at first prescribed orally, until I reminded them about the whole tylenol fiasco). I remember the ER physician remarking that we would be home in the morning, “unless something else happens, then you may have to have a spinal tap done, but don’t worry, it won’t.” I hate it when doctors say that.

We were checked into our room, met a wonderful nurse named Sarah, and proceeded to get ready for the night. (It was about 11:30 now.) Just as she came into the room to give another dose of tylenol, she checked his temp (100.9) and he began to seize again. Things moved pretty fast then. Two more nurses were promptly in the room with the push of one of those scary buttons, oxygen was administered, as well as suction prepared in case it was needed.

In all, the third seizure lasted less than 30 seconds, but it was enough to make me realize that we weren’t just dealing with a fever. 100.9 is barely considered a fever, let alone something that should make someone break their seizure-threshold. (Something I learned when dealing with Big Bro’s epilepsy: Everyone has a seizure-threshold. Most people have very high thresholds…meaning that it takes quite a bit to induce a seizure. People with epilepsy have lower thresholds…meaning that little things can cause the same reaction.)

After things settled down, the pediatrician was called. The ER doc was right…at 12:30 Wednesday morning George had a CT scan, followed by a spinal tap at 2 a.m. It was decided that we would begin treatment for meningitis immediately. According to pediatrician, meningitis is one of those diseases that if suspected, you treat for it while waiting for test results. We would be in the hospital for 48 hours minimum.

Well, long story short, we were released Thursday evening. All blood tests came back negative and the spinal tap came back all-clear. It was decided that George’s seizures are related to his complicated neurological/pituitary/growth hormone/something-or-another whatever they’re calling it now. We’ll head back to Mayo on Tuesday and see where we go from here.

He’s been treated with enough antibiotics to kill off any unsuspecting bug in his system…with which I’ve tried to come back with yogurt, to help out his poor guts and bottom. And so far, we’re doing good.

I probably didn’t need to call the ambulance…but it wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. I’m sure most parents understand where I’m coming from on that note.

I’m now a little leery about putting him to bed. I watch him carefully during naps. I check his temp frequently. I’m sleep-deprived and struggling to keep up…but someday I will look back on these days, not all that fondly, and just be glad that we made it through.

I was talking things over with my sister-in-law, and she’s right, we are blessed. Yes, George seems to have some problems that they can’t figure out, but so far, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at him. We’re very lucky. It could be so much worse.

Little brother (George), looking up to his big brother, wanting to farm, just like him.

And for that, I thank God for all that we have been given…we’ll take tomorrow as it comes.

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10 thoughts on “Every parent’s nightmare

  1. Speechless.

    I literally have tried to find the words to write several time and every time I can’t find them.

    Lot’s of people pulling for you guys.

    Now to go find a Kleenex.

  2. I would have absolutely called the ambulance. I’m amazed you still have hair and it isn’t all gray.:) Truthfully you are an inspiration. George has been our prayers since the beginning of this journey and will continue to be there. Thinking and praying for you always!!

  3. Oh my goodness!

    I just found your blog! What a time to start following you!

    I know you did the right thing. Momma always know best, that is the way God made us!

    My nephew suffers from seizures due to a brain malformation. My sister has watched him have hundreds of them, no grand mal, yet. When her gut tells her something is wrong, she calls the ambulance. You did the right thing. (My sister has gray, but nothing a little “Health and Beauty Day” at the stylist won’t fix! 😉

    Praying for answers and rest for you and yours.

  4. Just wanted to let you know that I will pray for little George and your family. Hope all goes well for you tuesday. Joyce

  5. It is terrifying when anyone you love is seriously ill. With kids, it’s even worse because they cannot tell you what’s going on. May God smile on your family….and may you find a way to get some rest. Sending good thoughts your way!

  6. Holy cow that is scary stuff! You say it so matter of factly about the various types of seizures, but I would definitely call the ambulance if I found my kiddos like that. What a stressful week. So glad he is ok and that it seems to be over…

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