Friday, May 21, 2010


I should preface this by saying that, most of the time, febrile seizures are harmless (terrifying, but harmless) and my goal is not to scare other mothers. I am currently trying to get over the fear.

Between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, 3 to 5 percent of children will have a febrile seizure. One-third of these children will have another one, and about half of those will have a third. Febrile seizures are most common in the toddler age range. A child is more likely to have febrile seizures if either of his parents had them when they were young. Kids who have their first febrile seizure in their first year of life are the most likely to have another one. A child is also more likely to have a second seizure if his fever was low when he had his first one, or if the seizure occurred early on in his fever.

Monday, I got a call from daycare saying that Madison's temperature was 100.4. They said they were going to keep checking it to make sure it didn't go higher and they'd call me to come get her if it did. At about 3:30, they called to let me know that Madison's temperature was 102. I left immediately to go get her. She looked a little tired when I got there, but Miss Debbie said she didn't seem to be feeling too bad. I called the doctor's office on the way home to see when we could get in to see the doctor (as Madison would need a doctor's note to go back to daycare anyway). They said they could get us in at 5.

At the doctor's office, Madison's ears were checked and the doctor checked her throat for strep. Her ears were fine and the strep test came back negative. The doctor said she likely just had a virus and to call back if she got worse or if she wasn't better in a few days. During the appointment, Madison seemed extremely tired. She even fell asleep on the exam table while we were waiting for the doctor. However, her temperature was only 99.8. We headed straight home, and Matt stopped at Pizza Hut in Cross Lanes to pick up a pizza. Madison fell asleep as soon as we left the doctor's office and slept the whole way home. When I pulled into the garage, she woke up and started babbling and playing. I started to gather up our stuff in the passenger seat, and when I glanced back at her, I saw the most frightening sight ever.

Madison's eyes were open wide and were completely vacant. Both of her arms were stretched out in front of her and her fists were clinched tightly. She was violently convulsing. I remember thinking to myself "Okay, she's having a seizure. It will pass. It will pass." And then she started turning blue....first her lips and then other parts of her face. I lost it. I dialed 911 and frantically told them what was happening and tried to stay calm enough to give them our address. I remember thinking "Okay, it's okay. It's okay. Help is on the way." I was calm for maybe 2 seconds, and then I just felt like there was no way the ambulance could arrive quickly enough. I yanked Madison from her car seat and ran to our neighbor's (both are nurses). I pounded on their door, while Madison was still convulsing in my arms. No answer. I completely lost it. The panic I felt in this moment is indescribable. I just remember thinking "so this is what it's like to hold your child while she's dying and there's nothing you can do about it?" While all of these thoughts were running through my head, I was running through the subdivision screaming for help. One of our neighbors came to me. She took Madison from me because I was shaking so badly. As she was holding her, I remember alternating between screaming Madison's name and crying out to Jesus. I kept kissing Madison's head. I could barely stand to watch. As each second passed, I felt as if Madison was slipping further and further away from me and further and further into this dark unknown. Another neighbor came running. She tried to comfort me. Finally, Madison started to come out of it. It seemed as if her breathing was very labored and she was moaning. I took her back in my arms and we sat on the neighbor's porch until the ambulance arrived. The whole event seemed like it lasted an eternity, but I think the seizure lasted about 3 minutes and the ambulance arrived maybe 2 minutes later.

When the ambulance arrived, Madison was completely unresponsive. Once they got her in the ambulance, she started to cry. The EMTs were so happy that she was crying. They gave her some oxygen because they said her oxygen levels were low. About this time, Matt got there. I don't even remember what I said to him. I think I was just in shock at this point. The EMTs helped me into the ambulance and we headed to the hospital. Matt followed behind in the car. Madison's fever went up to 102.8 in the car, so the EMT and I undressed her. She just seemed so exhausted.

When we arrived at the hospital, they gave Madison Tylenol. They ran some tests...all of which came back negative. Nana, Poppaw, Grandma, and Aunt Jennifer came to check on Madison. After awhile, she seemed to be her normal self again. She ate a popsicle, some cheese curls, yogurt, and drank a ton of gatorade. She played for a little while and then went back to sleep. We were discharged from the ER around midnight.

After the events from that otherwise uneventful Monday, I've been trying to cope with it all. I can't seem to get those images out of my mind. Madison slept with me in the spare bedroom Monday night and Tuesday night. I stayed home with her Tuesday and Wednesday. Nana came Wednesday evening and stayed with Madison Thursday. I was a nervous wreck when I was home with her that first day...terrified that it would happen again while I was alone with her. Matt came home and napped with her in her bed, and I cried the entire hour it took me to iron Matt's school uniforms. Wednesday evening, we made a quick trip to the store. Matt drove and I rode in the backseat of my car with Madison. It was the first time we'd been back in the car since it all happened. As I strapped Madison into the same car seat where it all began, tears just streamed down my face. I cried again at the doctor's office yesterday as I explained what happened.

I do feel better after talking to the doctor. She explained to me that the brain turns itself off as a defense mechanism against the sudden spike in fever. Before shutting off, a message is sent to the rest of the body to go into "survival mode". All of the blood is pulled from places where it is not needed as much to the vital organs to protect them. This is why Madison's lips and face turned blue. Her breathing may have been shallow, but she was still breathing. Her oxygen levels were probably low because the blood had not fully circulated back to her extremities. She was very empathetic...she even hugged me. I feel like maybe I would be better prepared (at least mentally if not emotionally) if it happens again. I just pray with all of my heart that it doesn't.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Red and Yellow