12/05/2008 7:51 pm EST: Update below
First, let me say that Emi is fine and we are home. (This is long, even with editing as much as possible there is just no short way to explain this.)
Yesterday afternoon, Emi had a febrile seizure. Scariest thing that has ever happened, something I hope no one else has to ever go through. In a very quick nutshell, febrile seizure is when a body temp goes up VERY fast. Emi went from normal to 103.2 in less that a few hours. Probably less than that, we have no idea when the temp hit exactly.
Here is how quickly it came on.
She woke around 730am, fit and fine. Happy as a little lark, getting into everything. At most a bit of a runny nose. By 1030 she had a raging fever of 103.2, full on (clear) nose gunk flowing and had vomited what tiny amount of breakfast she'd had. And non-stop crying/whining. Tylenol, fell asleep. Woke about 30 minutes later, more crying. No playing, just laying in my arms. Miserable and unhappy. 130pm: Still unhappy, fighting sleep, temp down to about 102. Had a few cheerios and some milk, some Advil and back to sleep for about 40 minutes. Woke crying, inconsolable.
By 230pm I realized that this wasn't just a cold, she needed to see her ped. I thought maybe strep, ear infection, who knows. But this just felt wrong. I called Jeff, he was out of the office. Around 3pm I decided to call her ped, and take a cab to the doctor if I had to. Right about this time she seemed to be doing a bit better. Watching a dvd sitting next to me on the sofa. Sipping some water, dozing. I was just about to get up to get my phone when she started jerking, eyes rolled back in her head, a bit of bubbling at her mouth. I grabbed her tried to wake her, who knows what I was thinking at that moment. Then, her lips turned blue. Really blue. Scared the everything right out of me. Up to that point, she had been stiff as a board, then, completely limp. I thought she had died, seriously. I was giving her mouth-to-mouth, calling to her, rubbing her chest. I had no idea what was wrong but trying to recall all the (very small) amount of emergency training I had had back when I worked for a small school. I finally got a hold of 911, the gal talked me through laying her down, checking to see if her chest was rising/falling (it was). She started coming to just before they the police and EMT’s arrived. Moaning and whimpering. Sweet music to my ears, she was alive. They gave her oxygen, checked her out, and then transported us to the hospital via ambulance. She was scared out of her mind and crying, but I was holding her the entire time.
Long story short, many tests, much poking and prodding. We were home, finally about 8pm. Final diagnosis, febrile seizure. We need to follow up with our ped but thankfully they didn’t need to admit her to the hospital. From now on, until she is 4-6 years old, whenever she gets any runny nose at all, any little cough or even the tiniest temp (100 or more) she is to get Tylenol/Advil around the clock for 3 days. The other thing we will do is with any temp from now on, she will sit in a tepid bath and we will sponge water over her head, chest and back to cool her down as fast as possible. That is the key, get her cool. The EMT’s undressed her to her diaper when they arrived, and all the while at the hospital she stayed that way until the last hour we were there. Even today, she is running around in just a tee shirt.
What we learned, there is no way to tell if your child is one of the ones that will have this. Most children, after having the one episode do not have one again. Some do, and can have quite a few, although that is not very common. What we did find out was that this is pretty common in children, 5% will have this before age 5.
It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I am posting this here mainly to share information. Had I known ahead of time what to expect, while I still would have been scared, I don’t think it would have been the mind-numbing complete terror that she was dieing in my arms that I went through yesterday.
What she has, we still don’t know and probably won’t. Her potassium level was a tad low, no reason for concern. Her white blood cells were 5,000 (normal range is 7-15,000). Again, not horrible. The ER doc thinks she has a low-grade something that her body is fighting off with the fever. Unfortunately, the fever spiked so fast and that is what caused the seizure.
Emi napped once in her crib today with the monitor on HIGH (the other time in bed with me - sleep deprived mama). But, when the seizure happened, it was noiseless. She never made a sound. I am sure in time I will stop checking on her every three minutes. I am sure I won’t need to watch her sleep. I am sure that I will be able to move her back into her crib for the night. But for now, this very scared mama needs to be close. Probably too close, but I can’t help it. I thought I lost my little gal yesterday. This happy, sweet, loving baby that I am so very lucky to be the mama of. I watched her running around today, playing with her toys, watching Tinker Bell (her fav smovie right now), scrambling up into my lap for a fly-by kiss. I listen to her chattering, happily playing. I realize how quickly this could have been gone. And it brings me to my knees. I cherished Emi before, I can’t imagine being more in love with her today than I was on Wednesday. But I think I am.
BTW, a very special thanks goes out to Louanne. Months ago she taught me Mama Bear. All the while I was holding Emi down while they did something else horrible to her, I kept chanting I’m the Mama Bear, I have to be strong for Emi. I am sure I would have gotten through yesterday without it, but not as well. I didn’t fall apart until we were home and she couldn’t see me. I was stronger than I thought I ever would be. My Mama Bear is alive and kicking, and I know now, I will always be able to be there for Miss Emi.
12/05/2008 7:51 pm EST: Update
I have already received three emails about this post. I answered them, but thought I should share more information that has just been shared with me. The friend that shared this found it on WebMD.
Parents commonly ask 3 questions about febrile seizures:
Are they harmful to my child?
Parents should feel reassured that febrile seizures, except in the very rare cases in which they are extremely prolonged and last 20-30 minutes, do not result in any lasting ill effects such as brain damage, decreased intelligence, behavioral problems, or delay in development.
Although otherwise healthy children who have had a simple febrile seizure may have a slightly higher risk of epilepsy later in life (1% vs. 0.5% for other children), there is no evidence that the febrile seizure itself causes epilepsy. There is a somewhat higher incidence of later epilepsy (1-2%) if certain risk factors are present: complex febrile seizure, family history of nonfebrile seizures, or preexisting neurologic abnormality or prior delay in development. Placing a child on continued antiseizure (anticonvulsant) medication after a febrile seizure does not prevent later epilepsy.
What are the chances they will reoccur?
In general, 30-40% of children who have had a febrile seizure will experience more. If a child has had 2 febrile seizures, there is a 50% chance of an additional episode.
Factors that increase this risk are children younger than 12 months at the time of the first episode and fever higher than 102?F at the time of the first episode.
Should my child be put on medication to prevent more seizures?
Even without anticonvulsant medication, 60-70% of children will never have a recurrence. Febrile seizures themselves cause no lasting ill effects such as brain damage or epilepsy. Certain anticonvulsant medications, such as phenobarbital, valproic acid, and diazepam, can lower the recurrence rate to about 10%. Each of these medications has drawbacks.