Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Febrile Seizures

(This is a post I began back in August documenting Jude's first febrile seizure.  I did not post it then, but decided to add to and finish it, after his second febrile seizure.)

On July 30th, Jude and I came home around noon from running some errands. I noticed he acted like he wasn't feeling well. When I tried to feed him lunch, he did not want to eat (very abnormal for this kid). When I picked him up out of the high chair, he felt warm.  So, I took his temperature. It was 102.

After taking his temp, Jude began to act nauseous.  Sure enough, about 10 minutes later he began vomiting. So, I decided to do a bath to clean him up and help bring down his fever a bit.  When I took him out of the bath, he began shivering.  I dressed him and laid him in his crib so I could change my clothes.  As I was changing, I heard strange sounding whimpering. I went to him, thinking he was probably vomiting again.

When I got to the crib, I found him seizing. His whole body was shaking and he was making this little squealing sound. He stopped squealing, but was still shaking with his eyes fixed with a blank stare.

I remembered that Stephen had had febrile seizures (seizures brought on by a fever) so, at first I wasn't panicked. I just thought, "I need to get his fever down."  (I now know it is not the height of the fever that triggers the seizure, but the rapid rise of body temperature.) So, I took off his clothes and brought him into the bathroom and began running some cool water. As I was running the water and getting a washrag, I looked down at my still shaking baby.  I noticed that his skin looked grey and his lips were turning blue.  I thought that he may not be breathing (it was hard to tell because he was shaking) so, I called 911.

After about 2-2.5 minutes he stopped seizing. Then, he was in this catatonic unresponsive state. He vomited more.

Jude's first febrile seizure landed us in the
hospital when he was 9.5 months old
eShortly, the ambulance came and took us to the hospital. He was given IV Zofran and meds to control his fever (which got up to 104.5). The doctors confirmed that is was a febrile seizure. He was hospitalized over night since his fever was hard to control and his vomiting and diarrhea was so severe.

Since his first febrile seizure happened at such a young age, we were told it is more likely that he will have another. Stephen had them very frequently as a child. But, praise God, they are harmless and he should grow out of them around age 5 or 6.

Fast forward - almost 5 months later - we experienced Jude's second febrile seizure on a Sunday night after church. Thankfully, this one seemed less severe and did not last as long.

If you ever become (and I hope you don't) the parent of a child who has these, you will be told several things:

- They are harmless.
- They will outgrow them.
- There's nothing you can do to prevent them.
- There's not much you can do while your child is seizing.
- Giving your child Tylenol or Motrin at the first sign of fever hasn't been proven to prevent febrile seizures.

I KNOW all these things. But, I feel anxiety creep up every time he feels warm or gets a runny nose. And, in the midst of a seizure, all I can think is, "He's not breathing. Please breathe."  Both times he seized it appeared (to me) that he is not breathing. I have been told he is probably still taking tiny unnoticeable breaths and since most febrile seizures are less than a couple minutes this is ok.

I am not incredibly experienced at this whole parenting thing, but it seems that one of the greatest challenges must be watching your child suffer and not being able to do anything about it. That urge to protect and nurture makes being in such a situation seem absurd.

I completely acknowledge that febrile seizures are so trivial in the grand scheme of other health burdens parents must face. I in no way want to exaggerate our situation. I can't imagine what parents whose child is seriously ill must face.  My heart breaks for any parent in such a situation. Yet, the Lord is teaching me something through this. He is teaching me to relax. Teaching me to control my thoughts when emotion and panic try to take over. To trust Him with one of the things I try to control the most - my child's health and well being. Truly, I am not in control. Not even a tiny bit. None of my decisions are sovereign over my child's future. The Lord is.

I so hope I learn this lesson well. That I can have a sense of calmness and confidence in the Lord no matter what. That I can trust Him completely - even with my child's life.

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