I don’t even know how to begin this. Friday morning Chance woke up sick with what seemed like another cold. Friday night we ended up in the emergency room. He had a febrile seizure and we were afraid he had meningitis.
He’s OK now but God, this is so hard to write. I’m still trying to process everything and I feel sick and shaky every time I think about it.
I had been watching him closely all day because even though he was playing he wasn’t eating at all and was only drinking a little, which is unusual even when he is sick. His runny nose was clear but he had thrown up once and had diarrhea. He was coughing quite a bit. At 4:00 his temperature was 101.1, even though we had given him Tylenol. At 6:00 his temperature was 102.7. I called the Advice Nurse which is a hotline my medical group provides. The nurse I spoke with said that I was giving him too low of a dosage and to try some more Tylenol, and then went over when I needed to be concerned (i.e. temperature of a 105, stiff neck, green mucus, rash, etc.). Some of these I knew but he wasn’t showing any other symptoms and at this point I’m still thinking that it’s a cold. I gave him another dose of Tylenol at 7:00. At 8:00 I checked his temperature again and it was 102.8. I was thinking that once he got some rest he would start to feel better, and I concentrated on getting more liquids in him before he went to bed.
I stayed up after he went to bed because I wanted to check on him when he would need another dose, around 11:00. He often wakes up for a few minutes around that time normally so I’m used to listening for him. Keen and I also figured we’d be up and down with him most of the night, so Keen had headed to bed to get some rest (we usually break these things up in shifts).
Shortly before eleven I heard Chance cough and then immediately start crying. I walked into the dark room, picked him up from where he was lying, and took him into our living room. Usually he cuddles into me as soon as I pick him up, but this time he was completely rigid. He was still very hot but also damp and I remember wondering if he had thrown up again. As soon as I was in the light I looked into his face. His eyes were almost squeezed shut but I could see that his eyes were rolled back into his head, his whole head was thrown back and his head and arms were stiff. I yelled for Keen and he called 911.
By the time the firemen arrived Chance’s eyes were no longer rolled into his head, but he was still rigid and still crying. He had cried non-stop from the time he first woke up. And he looked terrified. I have never seen him look or act like that. All I could do was keep talking to him quietly and hold him. We wrapped him in wet towels to start to bring down the fever and the paramedics arrived shortly afterward. Because of his extreme stiff head and arms everyone involved mentioned meningitis immediately.
Neither I nor the firemen speculated on seizure very long because Chance had been crying the entire time. My older brother is mentally disabled and used to have seizures when he was a child so I’ve seen them before. I’ve seen other people go through them too. I’ve never seen a seizure look like what Chance went through.
By the time we got to the emergency room Chance was starting to lose the stiffness. The doctor ruled out meningitis but he was obviously fighting an infection. They gave him Motrin and Tylenol and took lots of tests, and we did a lot of waiting. They finally determined that Chance had the beginnings of pneumonia and had most likely had a febrile seizure. They gave him fluids and antibiotics via IV and then we took him home the next morning.
Febrile seizures occur when a fever goes up too quickly. It’s not how high the fever is (even at the emergency room his temperature wasn’t higher than 103), but how quickly it rises. It was probably the combination of the Tylenol wearing off and his fever peaking that caused him to seize. However, that doesn’t stop me from feeling like hell. I keep thinking that if I had only had checked on him a few minutes earlier or not given him his blankie I could have prevented it.
This was only the beginning of his real illness. His mucus didn’t even turn green until the next day. I don’t know why this freaks me out more, that he had a seizure at the beginning of an illness, but it does. I guess because you think that if your child is really sick first you have some warning before something like this happens? I don’t do very well with seizures, emotionally. Too many bad memories. Too many times it hits without any warning, just like this. Even when you think you’re doing the right things.
I was so scared. But I kept it together while everything was happening. You have to do that. For them. And I think that’s what pisses me off the most about those parents that just are too wrapped up in their fucking around and fighting and Jerry Springer drama to ever really be present. Our bodies are so fragile. And so resilient too. I know Chance will heal. But we must, we must stay strong in our hearts and our minds, and be true to ourselves so that we can live fully and be there fully for our kids no matter what happens. We have to be in every moment utterly. It’s not about sacrifices or what we buy them or don’t buy them or how we provide the shit we want to give them or even the quantity of time we spend. We have to give them ourselves. That’s the most important thing. It’s about being full human beings. So that they can grow up secure to be themselves fully, too.
I know this is coming out all garbled. I didn’t start crying until Chance felt well-enough to start clapping his hand and play in that crappy little emergency room. He was exhausted and still very scared and yet he was still trying to respond to us for our benefit (at least, that’s what it felt like). And of course, I’m crying now. Still trying to process through.
And because it happened at night, I’m having a hard time sleeping. I keep going in to feel his forehead while he sleeps. I try to go to bed but I just lay there. Listening for him.