May 23, 2008

When sleep becomes less important than it once was...

It's almost 3:00 in the morning. With every twitch, every movement and every sound that she makes, I awaken. At least, I hope that I do.

This is the opposite of how I've felt any other night or any other morning when Jade has been beside me in bed. In spite of the cute kid beside me, I always wanted to extend those precious few moments of sleep. To dream just a little longer. To savour that transcendent movie-like dream-state that can only be remembered as one eases into wakefulness. It's a luxury that the childless take for granted. Instead of delighting in that peaceful state of relaxation, I would often get kicked in a soft spot or have my eye gouged out or have my face sat on or otherwise get crawled all over so that my few remaining moments of peaceful slumber were disturbed and utterly unsatisfying. That's just what happens when you have a toddler in bed with you.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I should probably explain.

Yesterday morning, I stirred from my sleep to feel two little feet pushing themselves against my side. For a little while, keeping my eyes closed lest I reveal my semi-wakefulness, I listened to the happy babbling sounds of Jade. My groggy mind quickly concluded that, at some point, Fawn had brought Jade into bed with us. I attempted to fall back to sleep.

Then Fawn said, "Michael. I think she's having a seizure."

I snapped up to see Jade twitching slightly, her arms held before her. He eyes were rolled partway up and she was staring, he head turning to the left.

She wasn't breathing and her lips were turning blue.

"Is she choking?"

"On what?"

I snapped my fingers in Jade's ear and brushed her cheek and pinched her and got no response. I did this while I was on the phone with 911. Thank goodness I put the portable phone on my nightstand last night.

It was all happening so quickly. It was all happening so slowly.

I have dangled from dizzying heights. I have been attacked by a snake. I have been in car accidents and bike accidents. I stood only feet away from a charging sow bear and her two cubs. I have swum through underwater caves without the benefit of SCUBA, hoping I would make it out in time. Some would consider these things frightening. They're not frightening. What's frightening is watching your child turning blue, not knowing why, and not knowing if she's going to die.

Bubbles emerged from her mouth and she had strained, irregular breathing. She still wasn't responding but at least her lips returned to their normal colour.

Fawn and I took turns getting dressed and I carried Jade upstairs to meet the ambulance. She was lethargic and still not responding to stimulus.

The ambulance arrived and I carried her out. I don't know how long it took them to get there. I know it was fast but it seemed like forever. No matter how quickly they could have gotten there it would have seemed like forever.

There were three paramedics and, as they gave her a bit of oxygen, they conferred amongst themselves: "Febrile seizure". A siezure brought about by a high fever. She didn't have a fever.

Fawn climbed into the ambulance with a bag of stuff that might be needed at the hospital and I climbed out. I drove down to meet them at the hospital.

I took a different route than the ambulance and, keeping my speed in check, beat them to the hospital by more than five minutes. I had Jade registered before they even arrived and was heading back to the emergency lounge as the ambulance pulled in.

As I walked into the emergency room, I could see that Jade was moody and sleepy but was out of her trance-like state. I breathed a sigh of relief.

The teenager in the room next to us was looking far worse than Jade. The nurse was asking him questions about whether or not he had smoked anything or taken any drugs and what he'd had to drink. He denied the drugs but after an initial "I don't know", his list of alcohol consumed was like a shopping list for someone opening a new bar.

The woman on the other side was vomiting something and the nurse was trying to identify the contents.

The doctor was inspecting Jade and, in spite of the absence of a fever, was hoping for something that might explain the seizure. She found a "raging" ear infection in Jade's left ear. On the long weekend, Jade had been poking her left ear and saying "Ow". At the time, I thought maybe she had been bothered by her bike helmet. Oh, hindsight, how I wish it were more useful.

The doctor prescribed some antibiotics and sent us on our way.

At the pharmacy, Jade seemed to be back to normal, if not a little hungry and sleepy. We were all hungry and went home to have some breakfast.

Moments after walking in the door, I got a call from the doctor. Like a good doctor should, she had played it safe and contacted a neurologist. The neurologist suggested that Jade be put under 24-hour observation at the hospital, followed by an EEG in Vancouver in a month or two. Just playing it safe. I was fine with that. Happy, in fact.

We finished our breakfast, showered and packed and checked-in at the hospital. Friday is the day that I take off to spend with Jade anyway, so I stayed with her at the hospital while Fawn went to work.

It was actually a pretty good day. Jade was very good while they took her temperature and heart rate and oxygen levels and was very, very good (much better than an older girl down the hall) while the nurse took some blood. We played and read and (treat-of-treats) watched movies and had lunch and then Jade finally took a nap.

I watched an atrociously lousy movie on my laptop while she slept (keeping an eye on her all the while), and read a book I found down the hall on epilepsy. It didn't take more than a page to realise that they want to do the EEG to see if Jade has epilepsy (although there may be other reasons that I'm not aware of). The book was actually pretty comforting (in spite of the fact that it's over thirty years old) and I was glad I found it tucked behind a bunch of other pamphlets and books.

When Jade awoke from her nap, you could never have guessed that her morning had started out so... horrifically.

Which leads me to tonight (or, rather, this morning) and my oft-interrupted sleep. After Jade finally fell asleep, I transferred her from her playpen (which Fawn brought over after work) into the hospital bed and crawled in beside her. Since she's under observation, we need to know if she has another seizure. The idea is that if she has another seizure I'll feel it, awaken, and notify the nurses.

I haven't had much sleep. Apparently, toddlers are very restless, noisy sleepers. I don't begrudge my lack of sleep one bit, though.

I just want to be sure that she's safe.


Anonymous said...

Hang in there daddy-o...I am with you. It's amazing the strength you find as a parent to deal with these situations. Sounds like she is in good hands and we can thank the great healthcare we have here in Whitehorse. Having had a child sent down on a medivac to Vancouver Childrens Hospital...we have it so good with the care and facilities. Hug a nurse for me...:)

Meandering Michael said...

Amen to that.

Anonymous said...

*raises an eyebrow*

To hugging a nurse?

ExploreNorth said...

I had a desperatery sick baby some 25 years ago, and remember well the helpless feeling and the terror of the situation. I pray that Jade's problem is a minor, short-lived one.