It’s been over 24 hours and I think I am ready to tell the story.
Over three years ago, our cat died, and for three years I have wanted to get another one. And after much discussion and talking, we finally got to the point that we were ready to go look at some. Yesterday morning we got up, had breakfast, and went to a friend’s house who is currently fostering some kittens. We spent about an hour there playing with the cats and went to grab some lunch around 12:30.
During lunch, Baby E was acting a little funny. He wasn’t interested in eating and he was pretty fussy. Eventually I just took him out to the van so that everyone else in the restaurant could eat in peace. Yesterday was extremely hot, but the AC was running full blast in the van. That’s when I noticed Baby E was feeling a little warm. Not much. I wasn’t positive he was even running a fever, because it was so hot outside and we were both sweaty and warm. He continued to be cranky, but I chalked it up to his messy diaper and the fact that we were infringing on nap time.
Once everyone else came out from lunch we headed over to Petco because we saw that they were doing pet adoptions as well. Baby E snatched a quick nap in the car while I ran in to look at cats, but then he woke up and we all ended up inside. We were there for about 20-25 minutes and during that time I noticed that he did feel warm. He was still very fussy, so I knew he was feeling off. Tim thought he felt a little warm too. I figured we’d give him some tylenol when we got home.
We loaded up in the van, but before leaving I asked Tim to drop by Starbucks so I could run in to get a drink. We pulled up and I got out and was standing in line right inside the door. I was trying to decide what I wanted when the door flew open and Tim ran in telling me very, very urgently that we needed to go immediately, and that something was wrong with Baby E.
I ran out of Starbucks and the door next to his seat was open. When I looked in, he was strapped in his car seat in a full out seizure. His eyes were rolled back in his head and his head was twitching back to the right. His arms and legs and torso were violently twitching as well.
Apparently while I was standing in line, C (who was sitting in the far back with Big E) started laughing at the weird faces Baby E was making and drew Tim’s attention to it. When Tim saw what was happening he ran in to get me.
In the split second I was standing next to him I knew this was serious. Tim and I looked at each other and said, “Hospital.” Praise God we were practically across the street from our local hospital. We hopped in the car and Tim shoved the van into reverse. During this time and the ride to the hospital I couldn’t see him and I had no idea if he could even breathe. Calling 9-1-1 would have taken too long and there was nothing we could do for him, but get him to someone who could help.
I have never seen Tim drive that fast and I had no idea that the van could move like that! Big E was squealing in the back seat about how awesome Tim’s driving was, while C (the only one that could actually see Baby E) was crying and shaking with fear. I kept asking her if he was still doing it and she would nod yes.
Tim practically flew into the parking lot by the ER and came to a halt right outside the door. We jumped out and he got Baby E out of his car seat as fast as he could. He was still seizing. He ran him into the hospital. I spent a moment trying to collect myself and figure out what to say to the kids, and praying that my baby was ok. I got in the van and explained to the kids where we were and that this was the best place for Baby E to be. Next thing I know, Tim is running out the door, Baby E still seizing in his arms, yelling that the front desk is insisting that he give them Baby E’s birthdate before they will see him. (He even pleaded with them because the baby was still seizing, but they wouldn’t budge!!) My mind raced through the kids’ birthdays until it landed on his and yelled it to Tim. (This is no indictment on Tim. If Baby E had been seizing in my arms, I would have blanked on his birthday as well.)
He ran in and there were nurses waiting for him. Baby E continued to seize until they were almost to a room. We estimate his seizure lasted for about 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile outside, the kids and I we pretty shaken up. Big E started crying and C was a mess. I took a few moments to call my parents and Tim’s parents. My parents live too far away, and Tim’s parents were far from home, so I called Rebecca to ask her if she would come get the big kids. I didn’t know what to expect when we walked in the hospital door, and I wanted to spare them from as much as possible. She said she could come and get them. I posted a quick thing of Facebook to get people praying.
I finished parking the car, got in the back with the kids and we prayed for Baby E together. (At this point I had no information at all.) We got out and went inside. They told us immediately his room number and we went back. I paused to talk to the kids because they were freaking out pretty badly, so we got ourselves under control and went to his room. I left them outside the door long enough to go in to make sure he wasn’t seizing anymore. Tim was standing holding him on a scale and they were surrounded by doctors and nurses. He wasn’t seizing but his whole body was stiff and he was whimpering. He handed him to me so they could weigh Tim by himself to subtract to find Baby E’s exact weight. Baby E was so heavy in my arms. He was crying. Next thing I know he was grabbed from my arms so they could get his clothes off.
We got out of the way so they could do their work. As we sat on the floor in the hall Big E kept crying that he didn’t want Baby E to die. C looked at me and whimpered “Daddy, drove though a yellow light!!” I just held them, because I really didn’t know what was going on. A few moments later, the doctor came out to tell me he was almost completely sure that it was a febrile seizure. A febrile seizure happens when your temperature spikes too high, too quickly and forces your brain and body into a seizure. The good news is, they do not have any lasting effects and are not like an epileptic seizure, which would have been bad. His fever was over 103 (a far cry from the slight fever he had in Petco just 15 minutes earlier) and they had to work on bringing it down. They gave him an IV and motrin. The pediatric doctor showed up and the first doctor saw how freaked out the kids were and offered them popsicles. This cheered them up and slowed the tears.
I went in the room again. Baby E was still so stiff, but Tim was holding him and sitting on the bed. His eyes weren’t focusing and his fists were clenched tight. They explained that this was normal behavior after a seizure and that he would come around. They asked us to recount everything that had happened. As we went through the story we had to ask C some questions because she was the first to notice anything happening. She was able to tell us which direction he was seizing. The doctors and nurses praised her for being so brave. When we got to the part about Tim’s interaction with the front desk, they became furious. They were mortified that that had happened and assured us that would be taken care of.
After listening to the whole story, the doctor said she was even more convinced of the diagnosis and that they had drawn blood and were running additional tests just to make sure. They wanted his body to relax before giving him a further exam.
Rebecca showed up and took the kids. They didn’t want to leave because they were still afraid that Baby E was going to die, but we assured them he was going to be fine. As we were leaving we saw a police officer waiting in the ER and C got very worried. She asked me if the police officer had seen daddy drive like that and had come to get him!! I told her he was there for something else. No one would be coming for daddy.
A little bit after they were gone, his body started to relax and he started to interact with us. They did a more thorough exam and found that his one ear was pretty infected. (This kid has had plenty of ear infections, and this time he gave us none of his tell tale warning signs.) The doctor was sure that’s what caused the fever, and didn’t want to do any scans unless necessary. The blood tests came back normal. He was officially diagnosed with a febrile seizure and an ear infection. They discharged us. (And apparently the front desk got a very stern talking too as well.) They did say that he has a 30% chance of having another seizure in the future if his temperature should spike, but he will outgrow it by the time he is five.
As we left, Tim turned to me and said he didn’t think that anything could top Big E’s head injury from last December, but this one definitely did. I had to agree with him. I’ve lived though some pretty rough stuff in my life, but this was the most frightened I have ever been- being in that car, helpless to help my kid, not knowing if he could even breathe. Every second was an eternity. Was I about to lose him?!?!
Multiple doctors and nurses came up to hug me in the hospital, so I know I must have been pretty weepy. I had a hard time not crying. My mind wouldn’t stop racing.
When we left, Baby E was pretty tired. We filled his prescription and headed to pick up the big kids. Unfortunately, C is a thinker and had spent a good time obsessing about what had happened. When we got to them she told me she couldn’t stop thinking about it. We made sure the lines of communication were open and we just let her talk as she needed to.
We got home, had dinner, and Baby E (while tired) was back to his normal self, eating, running around, etc. At bedtime he laid down with no problems and fell straight to sleep. I cuddled with C until she fell asleep. Thankfully she didn’t have nightmares and slept through the night.
Looking at him today, you would never guess what Baby E had been through. He was completely normal today and his fever is gone. He’s on antibiotics and eating and playing well.
I had a friend ask me last night, while I was still very shaken up, if I would have done anything differently. I thought it was an odd question at first, but I realized that it really put my mind at ease. Except maybe running right past the front desk and ignoring questions about birthdates, I don’t think we could have done anything differently. No regrets on our end. Once I looked at it that way, I started to have peace over what had happened.
The image of my son in convulsions will follow me all of my days. Yesterday was traumatic. It was terrifying. It was horrible.
But it was also blessed.
In retrospect, God’s hand was so present.
If I hadn’t had my starbucks craving, we would have been miles and miles down the road before we noticed, but instead we were practically across the street from the ER.
When Tim started driving, lights were green that needed to be green, and cars got out of our way as we flashed our lights and honked. Nothing stood in our way.
C was in the back seat and noticed. Usually her seat is next to him, and Big E is behind him. If the seats had been in their normal arrangement, C might not have noticed.
Baby E was safely strapped in his car seat. While he was convulsing, he wasn’t in any danger of hurting himself by falling or ramming into anything.
I am so grateful that so many people were praying of our baby. Within mere moments, there were dozens of people interceding for us. Thank you so much. Thank you!
I also wanted to take a moment to say that the doctors and nurses were amazing. I don’t normally recommend that hospital, but this time they really were amazing. They were caring and compassionate. They went out of their way to make sure that not just Baby E was ok, but that we were ok as well. I truly appreciate them.
And most of all, I want to thank God for protecting my little boy. This could have been so much worse, but it wasn’t. I know not everyone gets a happy ending, and while it was the most terrifying moment of my life, it ended up being ok. My little boy is home. He is safe. He is sleeping.
But you better bet I’ve been hugging him tighter all day!