I realize that since I’ve returned to work I’ve been a little slack on writing this blog but we did have a rather large adventure last week that has spurred me back into updating you all on the ongoing challenges we face as ‘preemie’ parents, still, over 2 years later! FYI this is one long blog so grab yourself a drink, snack and get comfy!
Let’s start with a quick health recap of our fall and winter so far shall we? Having spent the majority of the first two years at home with V and avoiding the general public during cold and flu season, we figured that along with the great educational and social benefits of participating in daycare this year he would also get sick a few times. Oh how naive we were! ‘A few times’ has quickly translated into one member of our small three person family being sick every week since Halloween. Our grand total at this point is hovering somewhere between one run-in with the Norwalk virus that systematically took down our entire family and our daycare provider’s, two ear infections treated with 10 day antibiotics, and at least 6-8 colds that have prompted me to consider buying stock in Advil Cold and Sinus. We have also passed these along to most of our great friends and family, for which I must apologize. I’m beginning to think that my sweet, loving baby boy must be licking people on the street, library or Early Years Centre because there is no way one kid can be such a germ magnet!
The illnesses are more than enough to break your heart when your kid looks so miserable but whoever started that quote that had something to do with the cure being worse was definitely on the right track…and was most likely a parent. Now Andrew and I have wrestled our way through a few doses of Tylenol here and there and we do have an inhaler that we’ve used since his first winter but forcing a strong-willed toddler to take disgustingly flavoured antibiotics 3 times a day was a brand new challenge. It’s somewhat like piling a cat and sometimes you just wait for him to start screaming so you can squirt the whole dose to the back of his mouth and move on with your day. It sounds more heartless than it really is but rest assured we have compensated for his emotional trauma by investing in Mario stickers.
We have also made a visit to the after hours clinic and have been extremely grateful that our family doctor is on-call weekend mornings for a couple unpleasant Saturday morning check-ins as well. Pretty sure every resident on staff knows us on sight and the receptionists have stopped asking to check our health cardswhen we arrive since it probably hasn’t changed and there’s no sense wasting everyone’s time when I’m trying to corral a snotty, cranky kid who just wants to touch everything in sight.
So that was our winter to date. We’d finally come to terms that until the snow disappeared, we would continue to rest up, drink hot tea, take our meds and tough it out. We’ve been through some rough stuff and a little sniffle wasn’t going to take us down! Now let me take you through our ‘adventure’ on Jan 31st of this year.
To give you a picture of a normal Thursday for us,V is usually good and tired by the time it comes around as he’s up early, comes to with Andrew to pick me up after work, and has spent the rest of his time playing hard with his daycare buddies. I usually have to wake him up in the morning but am generally greeted by a happy, sleepy mister who cheerfully asks me for his breakfast. On Jan 31st V was a little sluggish but nothing unusual as we had both been fighting a cold and I figured it had finally just caught up to him. No fever or anything so we got dressed, went downstairs and ate a few grapes for breakfast. V has never been a spectacular eater and that morning was a little less than the usual but again nothing that really set off any alarm bells. I figured he’d just had a tough week and we’d take it easy on the weekend. I got his cute butt into his snow gear and walked him to his daycare. The wind in the area had picked up to a very cold bite that morning and it was right in his face…not his favourite thing so by the time we actually arrived at daycare we were both pretty cranky. He calmed down upon seeing ‘Bissy’ (his daycare provider) and his buddies S and C, especially when ‘Bissy’ mentioned that Thomas might be making an appearance that day. V is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine on an almost alarming level so this was definitely the key to his worked-up little heart. I did let ‘Bissy’ know he hadn’t been a great eater, and was a little sleepy but no fever and to give us a call if he showed any signs later in the day.
I dragged my butt back home, ate some lunch, got all dolled up for work and hit the winter wonderland one more time to catch my ‘oh-so-glamourous’ city bus ride to work. As I’m climbing onto the bus I grab my phone (I had a very important game of Plants vs. Zombies to catch up on during my ride) and saw I’d missed a call by ‘Bissy’. In almost six months of daycare we have yet to receive a call so this immediately set off some alarm bells in my mind, but I figured V had just lost his lunch and she wanted Andrew to come drag his pukey butt home…understandable! I tried to call her back but didn’t have any luck, figured she was trying to calm down the kids, and proceeded to call Andrew to see if he’d heard anything. News from the Daddy front was that he hadn’t received a call yet but would keep an eye on his phone and for me to call back when I knew what was going on. In the spirit of some old school telephone tag, while talking to him ‘Bissy’ called back, so I hung up on him and answered the phone with my usual cheerful greeting. The serious voice i got back on the other line will stick with me for quite some time. ‘Hi Kendryth. So there has been an incident today…’ and then pause. I start thinking that V bit or hit one of the other kids and she’s calling to tell us to come and retrieve our tiny offender. Then she continues with ‘…and I’ve had to call an ambulance’. At this point I think I lost all blood to my brain and just started repeating ‘WHAT?’ in a high pitched, tear-filled panicked voice. The other riders on the bus all started looking at their feet or having very important conversations with their seat-mates…glad to know a distraught mother can still clear a section in under 2 minutes flat. I was looking around frantically like the answers to dealing with this completely bizarre situation would fly up out of the seats around me but managed to find out from ‘Bissy’ that V had collapsed, the paramedics were there giving him oxygen and I would meet the ambulance at Children’s Hospital. I hung up on ‘Bissy’ and tried to call my husband while hyperventilating and trying to not pass out myself. Andrew wasn’t at his office phone so I gave up, called my in-laws, dispatched them to pick him up (I didn’t want him driving in the state he’d be in when he heard the news) and then tried his cell phone repeatedly until he picked up. I will say that this is not a conversation I want to have ever again with my husband but we got through it and made plans to rendezvous at the hospital.
By this time my bus had pulled up outside my office, I ran across 3 lanes of traffic with barely a glance and flew into the building. I ran past my lovely and amazing co-worker V, asking if she drove that am, as soon as I got her ‘yes’ I practically started begging her to drive me to the hospital and bless her she didn’t even pause. In the time it took me to run into my supportive and amazing boss’ office to inform her I’d be leaving, V had her purse in hand and was waiting at the door. She talked me down from the verge of hysteria on the way to the ER and even came in to wait with me until A arrived. After what felt like the longest drive of my life I ran through the doors of the ER and accosted the first person I saw about my baby arriving all alone in an ambulance. ‘You tell me where he is nurse lady!!’ Of course I was in the wrong area and had to repeate my hysterical mommy act on the triage nurse in the children’s section. I’m guessing they get this a few times a day so she didn’t even blink and told us to take a seat as he was on his way. Just as we sat I saw my precious boy through a swinging door, strapped on the stretcher with two absolute hero paramedics in my eyes. Have you noticed that I can’t say enough amazing things about the people who came together to help us take care of our son that day? Just wait until I get started on ‘Bissy’, what an angel!
Anyways, V was really groggy, flushed and mostly naked. He had his jeans on, some electrodes on his chest and a blanket…that’s it. I ran up to the stretcher where the male paramedic was unbuckling him and almost bowled them all over to get my hands on my baby, but afraid to touch him at the same time. He just looked so small and fragile on that gurney!
I was a sloppy, crying, relieved mess at this point and continued to be so as we went to be evaluated in Triage. The female paramedic followed us in to give a rundown on what happened while at daycare and I was so obsessed with V that I almost didn’t pay attention until I caught the word ‘Seizure’. Um….I’m sorry…what??? And since the triage nurse and paramedic aren’t really in a position to give reassurance or diagnosis I was left to sit and hug him just a little bit tighter while we waited to be admitted.
As we waited for V’s bracelet, A rushed through the doors, crying (man-tears) of relief at seeing V awake and somewhat aware. We traded off so I could say a huge thank you to V before she headed back to work and upon my return we already had a bed in the ER. Just as we were realizing that we had practically nothing with us for V, as his diaper bag hadn’t been a big priority after suffering a seizure, I got a text from ‘Bissy’ saying she had just arrived with diaper bag in hand! I had also called my mother to drive me home for clean clothes, pooh bear and activites for our little man, assuming the wait would be a while. As ‘Bissy’ and I waited for my ride, she filled me in on the particulars of what had happened that morning. I hope she forgives me if some of the details are foggy because I think my brain shut off for most of that day! From what I gathered V had been okay that morning, not a big snack eater but playing well with the other kids and nothing had stood out to her either. At snack he’d stumbled a bit but nothing out of the ordinary since my kid can be kind of a klutz. After snack he was playing with his trains by the couch when he fell to his knees, then fell forward again. ‘Bissy’ tried to get his attention but received no response and rushed over to see if he was okay. When she picked him up his eyes were open, unfocused, he was shaking and he was struggling to breath with a lot of spit bubbles around his mouth. I can only imagine how many years this took off her life but she held him and called 911. We will be forever grateful to her for being there and comforting him during what must have been a terrifying situation for all 3 kids and herself. After the seizure stopped, he sat up, vomited and then fell right asleep, breathing easier but unable to wake. The paramedics had mentioned when they gave their report that he woke up outside but slept again in the ambulance which is typical for seizures. Apparently loosing control of your body for 5 minutes really takes it out of you, who knew??
After getting the story from ‘Bissy’ I ran back home, dropped our car keys off with my brother-in-law so he could pick us up later, packed a bag of V’s favourite stuff and booked it back to the ER just in time to get the run-down from the dr on possible causes. They were pretty sure that it was a febrile seizure (happens to 1 in 25 infants and toddlers between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, brought on by infections, with a 30% chance of recurrence in any new infections he gets…yippee!)) and they needed to find the root cause. This would involve an x-ray…no big deal right? Um…wait until you see the x-ray machine for infants and toddlers. That thing resembles a medieval torture device and if you’re listening to the kid strapped in it there probably isn’t much difference. If I could describe it to you picture a wooden plank with two holes for legs that the kiddo straddles. They then pull their arms above their heads and strap them into a fiberglass tube. Sounds fun right? V screamed his little head off which is apparently a good thing since they need a big deep breath for the picture. A was pretty proud of his little man though because V managed to squirm his arms down and partially undo the buckle…never say our kid isn’t determined!! Cutest moment of the day was probably when he thanked the x-ray lady on our way out, even after that mean contraption she put him in! Good manners are never out of place right?
Luckily the results of the x-ray were quick and eliminated the need for more tests. Diagnosis? Pneumonia! Oh joy, more antibiotics you say? High fever, wet choking cough and sleepless nights? Sign us up!! On the plus side we appear to be lucky in a way. Febrile seizures typically happen, according to our dr, at one of three points during an infection: Beginning, fever peak or end. V ended up having on at the beginning before the symptoms got dangerous for his still weak lungs. I’d take antibiotics any day than not knowing the cause and having to spend nights in the hospital undergoing even crazier tests.
So less than four hours after his seizure we were on our way home, sleepy boy in the back seat, and trying to resume life as normal. Let me tell you…every time V so much as made a sound that weekend we were on him like white on rice. Remember that feeling of having a newborn and waking at every single sound? Yup…we were back there and happy to do it. Our little man is everything and he needed us so we were there. Luckily after four days of creative antibiotic giving tactics he was back to his normal self and back to daycare! It’s strange how something so scary can occur and life just returns to normal so quickly you wonder if it actually happened…although I’m sure the next time he even looks a little flushed we’ll be back on high alert!! Here’s to hoping we’ve paid our dues this winter and good health will arrive before all of the snow melts!