Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Adventures with Baby

I love taking care of my grandson. I get to spend quality time with him, something I was not able to do with my three. I get to watch the Disney channel without anyone calling me on it. I get to play with all the toys at Target and no one questions it because I have a baby in my cart. Besides all that, it's just plain fun to watch him grow, watch him learn, see how that little mind works. The following experience I could have done without, though.

Yesterday, my precious Zach started running a fever about 3:00 in the afternoon. Prior to that, he was like any normal one year old -- happy, eating, drooling - trying to get in two bottom teeth. His mother bent to kiss him goodbye as she left for work and said: "He's running a fever." I took his temperature and it was 102, so I have him Tylenol and cursed those pesky, stubborn teeth on the bottom.

By 6:00, his temperature was 104. I gave him a cool bath and suffered as he shivered from the chill - all good things I know, but still my inclination was to wrap him in a big, fluffy blanket. I pushed his Tylenol, giving him another full dose an hour early and a bottle. He fell asleep.

At 9:30, I heard him fussing, whining really. I went in his room, picked him up and he was shaking. His temperature was way high - no time to take it. He started gagging, then stiffened and started to jerk. It took me only a second to realize he was having a seizure. I ran into the bathroom and put a cold, wet towel on his head, my thought to bring his temperature down. Then realized I didn't know what the hell I was doing. What if he stopped breathing? I called his mother at work with brisk instructions. "Come home. Zach convulsing. I'm calling 911." Panicked her, I'm afraid, but couldn't be helped. I hung up and dialed 911.

The dispatcher was calm. Thank God. I was not. He dispatched fire and ambulance. I knew they'd arrive in a jiff as the fire station is only six blocks from our house. Zach is still jerking and his eyes have rolled up, vacant. If I needed anything to confirm my decision -- and I didn't -- that would have been it. I'm listening to the dispatcher, trying to answer his questions and follow his direction. He was phenomenal. I was panicked.

Here my mind split and took a definite detour. You see, I had already gotten ready for bed. I had spent three hours that morning out in the heat and humidity, trimming trees and shrubs, edging and weed eating, and mowing lawn that had gone two weeks without being done while I was on my trips. I was wiped. Since I haven't done laundry yet, I was in a short little nightie. My brain was doing the following: "Oh my God, Oh my God! I'm in a nightie. Oh my God! In very short order, I'm going to have a house full of MEN. I can't put Zach down, he's still jerking. But I can't answer the door in this!"

I know. Who the hell cares? All that matters is that they get to Zach. I told you my brain took a detour. I was worried about that as well as getting our four dogs into the back yard, so the FD could treat Zach undisturbed.

And the dispatcher wanted me to stay on the line.

I finally told him that I was in the upstairs bathroom and needed to get downstairs or I wouldn't hear them when they arrived and more or less put him on hold. I cradled Zach and rushed to my bathroom for a robe, then coaxed our dogs all downstairs. They responded with appropriate alertness and rowdiness. Must have been the panic in my voice. The downstairs is dark. I haven't been down to turn on lights since the sun went down. I stumble to the back door. For once the dogs cooperated and all were out into the yard as soon as I opened the door. I slammed it shut and locked it - Layla can finesse it open if you don't. Smart dog. Not the time for it, though.

I'm still carrying Zach, my robe, and the phone with the dispatcher on hold. By habit, I found my way to the living room at the front of the house and turned on a light. Then struggled into my robe and sat down in a chair. Zach is still jerking, his eyes blank. Reconnected with dispatcher, who gives me all sorts of instructions on what to do with him when he comes out of it. Zach finally stops jerking. Fire truck pulls up in front of the house. I sign off with the dispatcher and open the door. Three men - I told you!! - walk into the house. Paramedic takes him right out of my hands. A million questions ensue. They are absolutely the most wonderful men on the face of the planet! Reassuring. Professional. Gentle with Zach. They do all the things they need to do to assess him. His temperature is 106.7.

I take a moment to jet upstairs and put clothes on. When I get back down, the ambulance has arrived. Zach's mother is right behind. Paramedics waste no time in getting him from the living room into the back of the ambulance. He's lethargic and trying to fall asleep. Our neighbors come over to make sure we're okay. Thank God for good neighbors.

Anne goes with Zach in the ambulance. Becca and I take Anne's car and try to find our way to downtown Fort Worth to Cook's Childrens Hospital. I've only been down in that area a few times, but my memory (and mapquest!) served me well.

Becca and I get taken to the back to Zach's room. He has a HOT male nurse. I know. What a time to notice. But seriously, he was HOT. Good son-in-law material. :-) Zach is awake and laying on Anne's chest - monitors on him. I'll abbreviate the rest. Motrin given. We wait. Watch the Olympics. Temperature drops. Doctor comes in. Asks me to tell the story. Confirms what she thought from the paramedic record.

Febrile Seizure brought on by rapid raise in temperature. Evidently, 5 out of 100 kids gets this in response to temperature rises. He'll either have one episode OR he'll out grow it. I hope it's the first. I never want to see him like this again.

Why the temperature? Unknown. Clear lungs, ears are good. Took blood and urine - and nothing except for a slight increase in white blood count - which could be from the seizure, but might be an unidentified bacterial infection. Poor Zach gets woken up about five times to do various things to him -- all usually involving a needle. He's grumpy and lethargic! I would be, too. Broad spectrum antibiotic shot into both his legs - enough for 24 hours. And we head home where Zach collapses into bed, exhausted and asleep.

I wake him at 530 am to give him more Motrin. He's hot again and groggy. Shoot the Motrin down his throat and rock him until his temperature drops. Then I put him back to bed.

This morning he's grumpy. Out of sorts. Still running a fever, but we're managing it with Motrin and a consistent schedule and waiting for any other symptoms. I'm betting it's his teeth. Which sucks, because he's only got eight in. That gives us the potential for this to happen again.

That has me getting to the point of this whole post. Don't EVER hesitate to call 911. These men and women train hours to do exactly what they did. It went off like a choreographed dance, each doing their utmost to help a panicked woman and her grandson. They were a lifeline in a moment of sheer terror.

2 comments:

Gary F. said...

Our thoughts are with Zach, Mom and Grannie.

My whole working career was in university student services but I spent 10 years of it in Student Health where I had many discussions with people about lowering their threshold for when to call 911. Granny is exactly right about calling and not waiting. My experience is that if they are not needed they will educate you about the issues....but it rarely, rarely ever happens. When in doubt...call.

Grannie's brother Gary

Kelly McCrady said...

Many people (along with the "Oh-my-god-I'm-naked) fear the bill for the ambulance. We belong to FireMed for that reason--$50 a year and the ambulance ride is taken care of.

Better to call, or go to emergency room (for non life-threatening) and be told it's nothing to worry about, than "wait and see" and have it be too late.