It was Christmas of 2015. My family and I were all at the grandparent’s house spending Christmas morning together. We were all eating and watching the kids open their presents. This has become a tradition since my daughter was born.
Something wasn’t right. I noticed that my sweet little girl was not acting like her normal happy self. This was my son’s second Christmas. Actually more like his first because this was the first Christmas that he could actually be a part of and enjoy himself since he was only about a week old during his first official Christmas. But, my daughter was being extra moody. She didn’t have any interest in her new toys. She would start to open a present then begin crying for no reason. I thought she was acting that way because she was tired. I tried to comfort her so she would stop crying. It was Christmas so we wanted her to have fun and enjoy herself. Eventually, she stopped crying and just wanted to be carried. So we went home. We had a Christmas dinner to go to that was supposed to start in a few hours. I wanted the kids to take a nap or at least get to rest before then. We arrived at home and thankfully my son had fallen asleep in the car. I carried him into the house, laid him on the bed, and I turned on the Minions movie for my daughter to watch while I tried to give her medicine. She sat there and cried. No matter how much I tried she would not take the medicine and she kept turning her head the other way. At this point, I would usually lay her down and force feed it to her because I know she needs it if she wants to feel better. But, because it was a special day I didn’t want to upset her more. I went to the fridge to look for juice or something to mix with the medicine to mask the taste. I found ice cream and thought, ‘oh this would be perfect’. I scooped some out into a cup then used the medicine syringe that already had the measured amount of medicine in it and squirted it into the cup. I walked back to the bed where she was sitting and sat down next to her. I picked up a spoonful of medicine and ice cream and put it into her mouth. She took in one spoonful and it began to pour out of her mouth like she forgot how to swallow.
This wasn’t just like a kid spitting out their medicine. It was like she had no control over what she was doing. Her eyes started to roll into the back of her head and she just started to stare at the ceiling. Confused, I thought she was looking at something so I asked her, “what are you looking at? What is that?”, she didn’t respond. She didn’t say anything and just continued to stare at the ceiling. I started to panic and worry. I tried to nudge her, talk to her, she did not move or say one word. Her eyes were still stuck looking at the ceiling.
My boyfriend walked into the house and immediately saw me with her in my arms. The medicine ice cream mixture was still dripping down her face and her eyes were still staring up at the ceiling. I started crying and said, “something is wrong”. He ran to me with fear in his eyes and grabbed her right out of my arms. He started shouting her name trying to get her attention. She continued to lay motionless in his arms and didn’t respond. I thought I was losing my little girl. He ran outside still carrying her and told me to call for an ambulance.
While I was calling 911, he took her to see his grandpa (who lives next to us) to see if he knew what was happening. I finally got through to the 911 operator and started telling them the address to the house and what was going on. I was so frustrated. Here I was thinking that I was losing my daughter and the operator was being so calm and asking me questions as if I had all the time in the world. (Later I understood why they have to be so calm in case of an emergency because they don’t want to make you feel more frantic or scared).
I heard my boyfriend screaming through the window that his grandpa told him not to wait for an ambulance and it would be faster if we drove her to the hospital on our own. I sprinted to grab my purse. I picked up my sleeping son and abruptly woke him up from his nap and ran to the car. My boyfriend had already put her in her car seat and grabbed a bag of ice for me to put on her head to try and bring her fever down or get any kind of reaction from her. She was burning up. I strapped my son in his car seat, jumped in the back and began rubbing the ice all over her body. She was still unresponsive. Eyes still looking up and now her arms and legs began shaking but she was stiff as a board. Talk about the longest, most traumatic car ride of my life. My boyfriend was hardly paying attention to the road and kept looking back to see how she was doing. Things weren’t looking good. By the time we arrived at the ER, she was blue. Her lips were purple and her skin was pale. I ran into the ER crying with her in my arms screaming that I needed help. A nurse was waiting for us in the waiting area because I’m guessing the 911 operator had told them about my previous phone call and they assumed that we were driving there on our own. We actually drove past the ambulance that was headed for our house while we were on our way to the hospital. We tried to wave them down while the car was still in motion but they didn’t see us.
I was thankful for the nurses that were on call that evening. The nurse took us directly into a room where they laid my baby on a hospital bed and began hooking her up to all kinds of monitors and machines. More nurses and doctors came running into the room. They started her on an IV and immediately began pumping her with antibiotics to stop the seizures. They had to put up the safety bars on the hospital bed so she wouldn’t fall off. Then it happened again. Her body began shaking out of control and she became stiff as a board. The nurse pumped more medicine into her IV and told me she was seizing again. At this point, I was losing my mind and crying out of control. A nurse quickly grabbed me, turned me the other way so I couldn’t see what was going on, then wrapped her arms around me and continued to tell me that everything was going to be okay. Did I believe her at the time? Hell no. After what felt like forever my boyfriend came running into the room with my son and quickly handed him to me. I started crying more as I held him tightly in my arms. I sat there hugging my son with my head in my hands. A doctor eventually came to examine her and tell us what was going on. He told us that she would have to have a cat scan done to make sure there was no damage to her brain because her seizure lasted longer than 15 minutes.
He was examining her and shining a flashlight into her eyes when he asked us, “were her eyes straight before this happened?”, my boyfriend and I looked at each other wondering what he was talking about. Then he said, “because her eyes are looking in two different directions”. As he began to point one of his fingers to the right and the other to the left. I began to cry more. We were very lucky that my boyfriend’s sister agreed to take our son home with her and watch him while we were at the hospital. After they prepped her and made sure she wasn’t going to seize again, they wheeled her off to get her cat scan. They brought her back within half an hour and I rushed to her side but she was sound asleep from all the medicine they had to give her. The cat scan results came back pretty quickly and the doctor told us that there was no damage done to her brain but he still wasn’t sure what was causing her to have seizures. He suggested that she get another test done to see if she had meningitis. For this test, they take a large needle and extract fluid from your spine and send it to the lab for testing. For this test, they don’t allow anyone to be in the room while it is being done. So, I gave my baby girl a hug and a kiss and told her how much I loved her. Then walked outside to the waiting room. There was so much going through my mind, it was too overwhelming. All I could do was pray.
Thankfully, the meningitis test results came back negative and we were all very relieved. At least that was one thing we could cross off the list of reasons why she was having these seizures. We had family and close friends blowing up our phones trying to find out what was going on and if she was okay. I answered honestly, I didn’t know. A few people physically came down to the hospital to see her, but it wasn’t looking good. She was still knocked out from all the medication and all we could do was wait. The nurse came to tell us that the test was over and we could go back into the room to see her. I rushed back to the side of her bed, grabbed her hand and began to talk to her.
I began to tell her how much I loved her.
I told her how much her dad and brother loved her, and how there were so many people that loved her and cared about her.
and how there were so many people that loved her and cared about her.
I kept telling her to wake up.
That she needed to wake up.
It was around 11:30 pm and she still didn’t wake up. The nurses told me that her breathing was good and everything was okay. She was just in a deep sleep from all the medication. I was exhausted. My boyfriend and I went back to the car so we could get some rest before she woke up knowing that she would be filled with energy after being asleep for that long. Her grandma agreed to stay by her side the whole time and told me that she would call my phone if she woke up. We went back to the car and I closed my eyes for about half an hour when my phone rang and it was her grandma telling me that she finally woke up and was looking for me. I left the car with my boyfriend still sound asleep and ran back into the ER where she was. As soon as she saw me she began to cry and put her arms up like she wanted to be carried. I ran up to her and picked her up then gave her the biggest hug ever. She was acting weird, like spaced out and her eyes were lazy and droopy. I was praying that was just the after effects of all the medication that was pumped into her little body and it was going to wear off.
We were told that because this specific hospital didn’t admit children overnight, she would have to be moved to a different hospital that was specifically meant for children. It was already midnight and we had to wait forever for the ambulance because they were really behind schedule. At around 3 am, the ambulance finally arrived. Her grandma went with her into the ambulance and my boyfriend and I followed close behind in the car.
It was around 4:30 am, almost 5 when we finally got to the children’s hospital. It was a totally different atmosphere with paintings of different cartoon characters on the big glass doors that led us into the hospital. Toys were lined up on the counter where the nurses were and there was a big fish tank filled with lots of colorful fishes. We quickly got checked into a room and were finally able to settle down. A few minutes later, a nurse came to ask a bunch of questions. We had to explain to her what had happened, why we were there and what they did at the first hospital we were at. After I answered her questions she left the room and shortly after a doctor walked in and began to tell us what was happening – that she was having complex febrile seizures. Complex because she had more than one. He began to tell us that she was going to need more tests and an MRI because they wanted a better examination of her brain. They told us that in order to get a good MRI reading, she wouldn’t be able to drink or eat anything for 4-5 hours because she needed anesthesia. The MRI was scheduled to be done at 11 am that morning but because they were running behind with other patients, it got pushed back to 1 pm. My poor baby was starving since she hadn’t eaten for over 24 hours. It was the hardest thing not being able to give her food, nurse her, or give her any water. She was screaming and crying. Basically throwing the worse tantrum possible but I couldn’t do anything except try to comfort her. After what literally felt like forever, the nurse came to get us and had me sit in a wheelchair with her on my lap then wheeled us to the area where the MRI would be done. She began to scream, cry and kick her legs. I remember the anesthesiologist just slightly pushing the syringe of medicine into her IV and she just went limp. They took her from me and placed her onto a stretcher then strapped her arms and legs down so she couldn’t move. They told me to go back to the room and they would have someone let us know when it was over.
We were in the hospital for 2 days, not including the time we spent in the ER. We were very lucky to have visits from family and close friends who came and brought us food and gave us lots of support. Please understand, I am not sharing this story because I want to scare you. But, because I want you to be knowledgeable of what a febrile seizure is so you can be aware and know what to do if it happens to your child. Before this happened to my daughter, I had never even heard of a febrile seizure. Which is why I was so terrified. I had no idea what was happening to her and that’s why I was thinking the worst. If I had known what was going on from the start, I could’ve been better prepared and more knowledgeable about what to do.
Whether your child is seizing for 1 minute or 15, it feels like forever and seems like it’s never going to end.
But, you must remember to stay as calm as possible and do the following:
- Gently place your child on the ground or floor
- Make sure they have nothing in their mouths and never put anything inside
- Remove any dangerous (sharp or hard) items away from your child
- Lay them on their side to prevent choking in case they vomit
- Never try to bring the fever down by giving them medicine, putting them into a bath or sponging them down while they are seizing
- Loosen any clothing around head or neck to prevent suffocation
- Watch for signs of breathing problems (face turning blue)
- Try to time how long the seizure lasts, if it lasts longer than 3 minutes, call 911
- Also call 911 if your child starts choking, has difficulty breathing or their skin turns blue
- Call your child’s doctor immediately when it’s over and take them in to get examined to make sure they don’t have an infection or other more serious problem that caused the seizure
- If your child had a seizure of any length for the first time and you can’t reach a doctor right away, call 911
Your child’s doctor may suggest that you give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help bring the fever down. Never give your child aspirin because it could be dangerous.
WHAT IS A FEBRILE SEIZURE?
A febrile seizure is a convulsion caused by a fever in a child between the ages of 6 months and 5 years old.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A FEBRILE SEIZURE?
Every child is different.
- Their eyes may roll to the back of their head
- They might drool or vomit
- They might lose consciousness
- They might start making jerky body movements or become stiff
HOW LONG DOES A FEBRILE SEIZURE LAST?
It can range anywhere from a few seconds to 15 (ridiculously long) minutes
If it lasts for 3 minutes or more, call 911
WHEN DOES A FEBRILE SEIZURE HAPPEN?
They tend to happen in children with fevers that are higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit but can still happen at lower temperatures. They tend to happen during the first 24 hours of a seizure, but not necessarily while a fever is peaking.
HOW WILL MY CHILD ACT AFTER THE FEBRILE SEIZURE IS OVER?
Again, every child is different. But usually, they might be sleepy or completely normal.
CAN YOU PREVENT YOUR CHILD FROM HAVING A FEBRILE SEIZURE?
No. Febrile seizures can occur suddenly, sometimes before you even know your child is sick.
HOW COMMON IS A FEBRILE SEIZURE?
2% to 4% of children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years will have a febrile seizure at some point in their lives. One-third of these children will have a second one and about half of those will have a third. They are most common between the age of 12 and 18 months.
- A child is more likely to have a febrile seizure if one of his parents had them when they were little
- Children who have a febrile seizure before they turn 1, are more likely to have another one
- A child is also more likely to have another seizure if their fever was low when the first one occurred, or if the seizure happened early on during his fever
Some of these things I learned from the paramedics, doctors, or nurses but the facts I found from http://www.babycenter.com/0_febrile-seizures-in-toddlers_1439542.bc?showAll=true
Have you ever experienced a febrile seizure with your child? Do you have your own febrile seizure story? Feel free to leave me a comment down below!