1. My daughter had her first febrile seizure when she was 8 months old. She had had a cold and was slightly warm. We were in the check-out line at Walmart when the stroller started shaking violently. I looked down at her and she was blue, lifeless and convulsing. My husband quickly picked her up, five people around us whipped out their cellphones and called 911. Out of nowhere two women appeared saying they were nurses. One, in fact said that her son had these seizures and not to worry. They took her to the end of the aisle, laid her down on her blanket and waited for the paramedics to arrive. I went with her in the ambulance to the emergency room while my husband loaded our purchases into our car and followed. The doctors did tests to determine that she didn’t have meningitis and then told me all about febrile seizures.
2. Febrile seizures are hereditary. They are caused by the brain’s inability to handle fevers. No one that I knew of in my family had ever had one. No one in my husband’s family had either. I didn’t really want to tell my family about this adventure. I felt so raw afterward. It was almost 6 months before I brought it up to my mom. By then I could talk about it without having horrible images of a blue baby flash through my head. Mom said, “My first cousins used to have those.” Mystery solved.
3. One of my neighbor friends had a history of having seizures herself. She told me that the best thing to do is lay a seizing person on their left side and let the seizure take its course. The next year, when Princess Pat had another one at home, I was more mentally prepared. I had been holding her when she started convulsing. I laid her down on the floor on her left side and watched her through the episode. When it was over, I loosened all of her clothing, started wiping her down with a cold cloth and called her pediatrician. We took her to an urgent care where the doctor pronounced her okay. He said that as long as I felt she was okay, I didn’t need to take her to a doctor if she had another one.
4. Since then, I have become paranoid every time she gets a cold. She spikes fevers randomly during illnesses and I am immediately there with a chewable Ibuprofin tablet for her to eat. One night, my cat, who normally sleeps by my feet or on a chair in my bedroom, literally pounced on me. He waited to see that I was awake and then he went and jumped on Princess Pat’s bed and sat there purring until I got out of bed to investigate what was going on. Her temperature was really high. I woke her up and gave her some medicine. Then I realized what the cat had just done. I started thinking about it and remembered that he is always around her when she’s been sick. Though he suffers all sorts of indignities at her hands, he uses some sort of sixth sense to watch over my little girl. Malcolm is now a bit of a hero cat.
5. The point of all of this is that I have been fighting a fever in Princess Pat since Sunday night. I feel like a lone soldier against an unseen foe every time one of my children takes sick. The doctor put her on an antibiotic yesterday, but the fever hasn’t completely gone away. Now that she is old enough to take fever reducing medicine, she hasn’t had any more seizures, but they still lurk, like shadows in the corners of a poorly lit room.
6. Changing the subject to a different child: Last night, my oldest two sons had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by a survivor of the Holocaust. It was a very moving activity that, had it been the only exciting thing to happen, would have been a profound experience.
7. Nothing ever is that simple in our family, however. I got a phone call from The Thinker telling me that The Musician “was down.” When asked for further information, the Thinker told me that he hadn’t seen exactly what had happened, but his brother was unconscious and 911 had been called. (Can you see my hair turning gray?).
8. Phone call number 2 and 3 were from paramedics and police officers telling me what had happened and that my oldest son’s vitals were fine, his eyes were responsive and he wasn’t throwing up. ”Ma’am, where would you like your son taken and how would you like your him transported?” Uhm. Home? By the guy who drove him there?
9. Apparently, my oldest son swiped a program from one of his friends and that friend had put a choke hold on him. The Musician was rendered unconscious and had fallen to the floor, hitting his head. When he arrived home, I made him stay up for another hour so I could watch him. This morning he still has a headache and is taking it easy, but I am hoping he will be fine by tomorrow.
10. Three years ago, The Musician discovered that he could make himself pass out. He did it at recess and literally bounced on his head. After a concussion, a CAT Scan, a lecture by two different doctors and a wounded ego, he learned a lesson about playing with consciousness. Apparently, his buddy has now learned a lesson, too. No more horse-play choking!!!
11. My son, The Thinker, is the one who taught me what to worry about in a head injury. His first fall happened when he was 9 months old. He had pulled himself up to play in my Tupperware cupboard. He lost his balance and cut open his forehead. Three stitches later, I had had my first introduction to head wounds. He fell down,splitting open the skin next to his eye before he was two. He had a head X-Ray when he was three for another fall. When he was four, he was prescribed glasses. That cut down on his falling. He had an astigmatism that caused him to turn his head slightly to see things and it messed up his depth perception.
12. Three of my sons have scars on their heads where no hair grows. When they get their heads buzzed for summer, the scars show up. The Musician got his when he was accidentally hit with a shovel by the little girl who lived down the street in WA. The Thinker got his when he slipped on wet cement. The Comedian got his while playing with some cousins in a ravine behind my husband’s uncle’s house. I am hoping that The Engineer doesn’t feel left out. He has the honor of being the only one who has broken bones, so I’d think that would be enough. (But, alas, I don’t think like boys.)
13. Speaking of The Engineer, he is being evaluated in a week to see if he has ADHD, with an emphasis on A not H. You know, when I was getting my degree and was taking abnormal psych, I felt, in my naive nineteen year old mind, like Ritalin was being over-prescribed. By the time my oldest was 8 and most of his friends were on some sort of ADHD drug, I really thought too many parents were using it as a way of not dealing with rambunctious children. Now, all these years later, I am about to have a third son diagnosed. I wouldn’t do it any other way, either. Both of my other sons improved ten-fold after they were put on meds. Of course, The Comedian is also dealing with Bi-Polar Disorder, so the complexity of his brain dysfunction is much greater.
Forgive my rambling. I never know where some of these posts are going to end up once I start writing them. I guess Thursday is the day you get a peek at something other than my kitchen.