Monday, August 30, 2010

A really, really scary night

I think I can safely say that last night was one of the worst nights of my life. Definitely one of the scariest.

L has been having a rough month, health-wise. He had a very high fever (101-103 degrees) at the beginning of August, but no other symptoms. I took him to the doctor, and he advised me to just give him Tylenol and cool baths and monitor the situation, that there was really nothing else to do. Then, at the end of that week, L developed a cough and runny nose. Since it was the weekend, I took him to the Urgent Care at the ER my mother-in-law works at. They prescribed him amoxicillin and we were on our way.

Then, this past Saturday, my mom went in to get him when he woke up in the morning and she was insisting that something seemed off with him. We took his temperature throughout the morning and early afternoon, and it was normal. But he was very sleepy and clingy, so we knew something was wrong. Then, my mom and I went to the mall with him. He seemed ok, but just pretty unhappy. When we got home, we took his temperature again and it was 102.4.

We started giving him Tylenol and put him in a cool bath, which seemed to bring it down. He was still acting pretty normal, so I wasn't too worried. I just figured if he was still sick on Monday, I'd take him to the doctor. On Sunday, it was pretty high still, so we continued with the baths and Tylenol. It always brought the fever down, and from the research I'd done, this was a good sign. Every single thing I read told me that a fever without other symptoms, and one that could be brought down with home treatments, was not one to be alarmed over.

Still, since his fever had persisted all weekend, and wasn't showing signs of going by Sunday evening, I decided I'd take this afternoon (Monday) off work to take L to the doctor. D had to do lawns, so we arranged for L to be juggled between D, my mom, and myself.

L seemed fine before we put him to bed. He was crawling around and playing, he was eating and drinking normally (with his usual hearty appetite), and was not super feverish. So we put him down and he went to sleep.

Normally on work nights, I try to go to bed by 10 or 10:30, but since I've been getting into cross stitching a Christmas stocking for L, I've been obsessively working on it every night and staying up late. It was D's first night off work after his swing, so we decided to watch a movie. We ended up going to bed around 11, but got hooked on an episode of House, so we watched it in bed.

At around 11:30, we both heard L over the monitor. He was making fussy noises, but they seemed different than usual. D and I started talking about whether we should go in to check him or not. I was of the camp that we should not, since he normally just crawls around looking for his paci and then goes to sleep. D wanted him to be checked on, but he wanted me to do the checking. Finally, D agreed to go check on him.

About 5 seconds after he got in there, he came back into our room and told me to come. I wasn't actually very worried, because D has done this before and everything had been fine. But I got up anyway and went into L's room.

When I got in there, L was all huddled up in the corner of his crib. It's so hard to describe how he looked. He was rigid but floppy, laying straight but curled up. He was breathing heavily and he was burning up. I tried to reach in for him, but since we've lowered the crib mattress, I'm having a much harder time taking him out of the crib, so I told D to get him.

When D grabbed him, L flopped over backwards in his arms as if he were a newborn again, with no head or neck control. His eyes rolled back in his head and his little body felt like he was on fire. D handed him to me and L's eyes were vacant and staring at me in a way I'll never be able to erase from my mind. He was completely non-responsive and was twitching around in my arms. I ran for the thermometer and it read 103.6. I was trying to hold L in a comforting way against my chest, and when I pulled him away, he had drooled all over his face and my tank top.

I burst into my parents' room, and my mom woke up and took L from me. She told me to get a cool bath running and she started to undress him. We put him in the tub, which normally would cause him to cry and protest, but he just sat there like a zombie. His eyes were open but he wasn't there. We had to support him to sit up. My mom laid him down in the water and held his head above so he wouldn't be fully submerged, and we just continued to dump cool water all over him. Finally, he started crying.

I told my mom to take him out so we could take him to the ER. She told my dad to go downstairs to get ice in bags so we could keep him cool on the ride. She started putting a diaper on him and D and I ran to our room to get dressed. It's funny where your mind takes you in a crisis. Like your brain tries to get you to focus on minutia so you don't go completely insane by realizing what you're dealing with. I kept thinking about how I didn't have any make-up on and how everyone would see how broken out my skin is. I kept grabbing t-shirts that belonged to D, and obviously they would have worked, but I was determined to find one of my own t-shirts to wear.

We raced to the van and my mom and I climbed in the back to sit with L. He was slightly less delirious, but he was still shaking his head from side to side, obviously feeling miserable. I stroked his hair and sang to him, which seemed to calm him down. The ER we went to is only about 5 minutes from our house, but it felt like an eternity. I kept seeing D looking in the rear-view at us. He was such a rock through this all. I know he was terrified, but he was so strong and stable.

I kept wanting to cry, but I knew I had to be the mom. I knew that if I let the tears start, they wouldn't stop and I wouldn't be any use to anyone. When we got to the ER, D and I got out and I asked my mom to park the van. I grabbed L and tried to run into the ER, but they had those stupid rotating doors that move like 1/2 a mile an hour.

There was a security guard at the entrance and he asked if we needed to be seen. I said, "Yes, it's an emergency." I instantly knew what an idiot I sounded like because, duh, we were at the Emergency Room. Of course it's an emergency. You don't go to the ER at midnight on a Sunday if it's not an emergency.

He directed us to registration, and I was a little bit put-off. I had expected it to be more like a tv show, where you burst into the ER and say, "My baby is sick!" and they rush you right back. But no, we had to register first.

So we went over to the registration desk and the girl asked if the emergency was for me or "her" (meaning L). I said, "It's for him." And she said, "Oh him, ok."

I started describing what had happened, waiting to be rushed back, and she said, "Well he looks ok now. What's his birth date?"

And at that moment, it took most of what I had left in me not to throat punch her. Oh great! He looks ok now. Thank you for your astute medical evaluation, registration clerk. Yes, he must be ok. Truly, we just felt like taking an evening jaunt to the local ER and L was like, "Oh mommy, let me come!" so we said, "Ok, we can pretend you're sick."

So she sent us to the waiting area to wait, and I got even more upset. This is an e-mer-gen-CY. EMERGENCY. My 10 month old son basically just seized in my arms and we are sitting here in the waiting room. And we waited for 20 minutes.

Finally, this guy calls us over to evaluate L and he seemed like he could truly not care any less about what he was doing. L was starting to seem more like his old self by this point, and the guy just looked at us like we were wasting his time on purpose. All I could think about was how we should have just called a damn ambulance. Maybe then everyone would have been taking this a bit more seriously. They don't send the ambulance to the waiting room. They don't give the ambulance the "stop wasting my time" eyes.

After the most agonizing half-hour of my life, we finally went back to our "room". A nurse came and gave L Motrin, which really seemed to do the trick. I could literally feel his body cooling in my arms. By that point, my mom knew it was a febrile seizure, since I'd had one when I was L's age. (It's basically a seizure brought on by a high fever that is usually an isolated incident, and not caused or brought on by epilepsy or brain infection.) The doctor came and confirmed it, and we spent much of our time waiting in our "room" for things to happen. Overall, I'd say we spent about 15 minutes total interacting with people and 2 hours waiting.

We have an appointment with L's doctor this afternoon, and I don't really expect to get much out of it, honestly. Thank God, L's fever was pretty much gone this morning. (Of course, neither D nor I could put him back in his crib last night. We set up the Pack-n-Play in our room and he slept there.) We are keeping up the Tylenol and Motrin to make sure the fever stays away.

I still had a hard time sleeping last night. I kept beating myself up with the what-ifs. What if D had not been home and I had stupidly not checked on him? That was the worst one. Knowing that I probably wouldn't have checked on him as quickly if D had not been home, and knowing that that decision would have caused L to continue seizing in his crib. I literally have to push that thought out of my mind every time it surfaces because it brings tears to my eyes.

I am so thankful that D was home. I am so thankful that L is ok. It was such a scary night, and most of all, I'm just thankful that it's over.


IASoupMama said...

Many, many hugs... Neither of my kids have ever had a febrile seizure, but they are so scary! My mother-in-law is a nurse and she lost it when her oldest had a febrile seizure -- and she's a trained professional! Us regular moms haven't got a chance...

My only experience with kids in an ER is when Milo broke his arm. Everyone was really nice to us and they fast-tracked us, so sorry your experience wasn't the same...

shasta @ blogging with mittens said...

Glad to hear L is doing better. Hope you and your family are doing better, too. Crazy how your adrenaline levels shoot up and then just sorta stay there.

Mittens had a 103+ fever awhile back but, thankfully, no seizure. Just reading your post made me panicky - hope I never have to go through that.

Mallory said...

Katie, I'm so sorry you had to go through that. It sounds like you handled it really well.

I think you should call or write the hospital to complain - they should know about your bad experience so that they can improve.