A small part of me died today. There was nothing I could do but listen to the 911-operator tell me they would be there soon. The minutes felt like an eternity. I later looked back to the length of the call: 6 minutes. They were the longest 6 minutes in my life.
Watching my 2-and-a-half-year-old baby boy seizing: eyes rolled back, blood and spit dripping out of his mouth and down his father’s back, and shaking uncontrollably was the most gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, painfully terrifying experience I have ever endured. And there was nothing I could do but wait.
Officer Suarez arrived first. At that point, he had already stopped seizing. The seizure lasted approximately 4-5 minutes. We had already laid him on his side like the 911 operator instructed. Officer Suarez checked him out and told us it was probably a febrile seizure (this is a seizure caused by a sudden spike in fever; more info below) and that he would mostly likely be fine. Two minutes later, the paramedics arrived. They confirmed Officer Suarez’s diagnosis and advised us to give him Tylenol or Motrin immediately. He was burning up, despite being just fine when we put him to bed.
I held my baby, limp in my arms, while I tried to listen to their instructions and while I listened to them tell me he would be alright. Until I saw my baby’s big blue eyes look at mine and say “Mami,” I wouldn’t believe a word they said.
Gregory came with the Motrin and I tried to give it to David. He wouldn’t open his mouth or respond; I persisted. Then he cried… and the tension in the room eased. I guess David crying was a good thing. He took in some of the Motrin but remained lifeless in my grasp. The paramedics said we could wait and take him to his doctor when they opened or to the urgent care if we’d like to make doubly sure everything was okay. There was no question we were leaving.
I stared at my baby boy in the back seat, shivering cold in just a diaper, while his father drove us safely to the hospital. I held his beautiful face in my left hand and prayed. I prayed to God like I’ve never prayed before. Lord, keep him safe. Let this be a minor blip in the bright future that I know lies ahead of my amazing and perfect child.
We arrived at the E.R. and we rushed in. They checked us in and we were in a room in less than 7 minutes. I sat in the hospital bed with David in my arms, eyes open this time just looking at me with worried eyes, not saying a word.
For those of you who have the blessing of knowing my child, you KNOW he is never silent and never inactive. He is my cotorrita, my little parrot, always running around with a carrito in his hand or sliding down the hallway with a large truck in front of him to gain distance.
The nurse asked me to set him on the bed so they could hook him up to the monitors. I gently set him down and stared at his little body, alone and naked on such a big cold bed. His little hands lacked the strength to grasp my finger or his father’s, but we made sure never to let go of his hand. He made eye contact with me, with his dad, and with the nurse, but didn’t speak a word. I asked why and how long this would last. The nurse explained it is called the Postictal State.
The postictal state is the altered state of consciousness after an epileptic seizure. It usually lasts between 5 and 30 minutes, but sometimes longer in the case of larger or more severe seizures. It is during this period that the brain recovers from the trauma of the seizure.
The postictal stage lasted two hours for David. I got up for a moment to blow my nose from all of the crying and he was looking at me. I decided to make a funny face and cross my eyes.
The relief I saw in his father’s eyes was a reflection of my own. Our little boy was coming back. I made more funny faces and he smiled again. His father asked him “Quien soy yo? Como yo me llamo?” (Who am I? What’s my name?) and without missing a beat, David says in a weakened voice “Daddy.” Greg then asks “Y ella? Quien es ella?”
“Mami” he whispered. My heart runneth over. My beautiful baby boy would be okay. We said another prayer to Papa Dios and waited for the postictal state to completely pass. His Abi and Abuelo were there with us and this made David so happy. Slowly but surely, he came back to us, including his incredibly contagious and joyful laugh and his propensity to find trouble (he broke one of the cables that were hooked up to him for monitoring). I didn’t even care about the cable, and from now on, broken cables, messy floors and play areas, spoiled plans… none of that means a thing. Talk about having life put into perspective.
I am so grateful he is okay, and I guess for this life lesson, I am thankful.
So why mention this on my law firm blog?
First, to thank my clients, my staff, my family and friends for all of your support during this time.
And secondly, one of the thoughts I had while all of this transpired is:
“THANK GOD, DAVID WAS WITH US, HIS PARENTS.”
But what if he wasn’t with us? What if he was staying with his Abi and Abuelo? What if I were out of town? Would David’s grandparents know what to do? Would they have the right documentation to show the hospital that they were the appropriate individuals to make healthcare decisions for my little baby?
My friends, my family, and my clients: Don’t wait until it’s too late. Make sure any and all documentation you need for the care of your little ones is in order before you need it. I hope none of you ever experience what David’s father and I experienced. Please make part of your New Year’s resolution planning for the well-being of your family’s future. I’m happy to help.
A febrile seizure is a convulsion in a child that may be caused by a spike in body temperature, often from an infection. Febrile seizures represent a unique response of a child’s brain to fever, usually the first day of a fever. Febrile seizures are classified as simple or complex:
- Simple febrile seizures. This more common type lasts from a few seconds to 15 minutes. Simple febrile seizures do not recur within a 24-hour period and are generalized, not specific to one part of the body.
- Complex febrile seizures. This type lasts longer than 15 minutes, occurs more than once within 24 hours or is confined to one side of your child’s body.