Friday, April 23, 2010


They say a picture is worth a thousand words:

But sometimes, you need more words after you see the picture.

Zach had a seizure.

We were driving to pick up Jared from school. I was listening to talk radio and Zach was sitting right behind me in his car seat. As we pulled up to the school at 3:48, Zach started making some noise. At first I thought he was just whining about something, but when I looked in the rear view mirror, he was slumped over and I realized he was whimpering. I got out of the pick-up line and parked the van, got out and motioned to Jared to come to the parking lot. Then I took a look at Zach.

He was now out cold and drooling. He'd wet himself, too. I tried to wake him up, but he was unresponsive. I tried to think of anything he could have reached from his seat that he could be choking on, and tried to look in his mouth. His jaw was clamped shut and when I tried to pry it open, his jaw just began to tremble. I tried again to wake him, but it was no good.

I ran over to ask one of the teachers (Jared's music teacher) if the school nurse was still around. I said my son was acting really weird, and did he think I could take him in to see her? He said yes, and was concerned that it was Jared. Not knowing what else to do, I told Jared to stay in the van with Luke, scooped Zach into my arms, and carried him into the school. Another teacher walked with me and held doors open for me.

When I got to the nurse's office, there was only a young girl in there, laying down on the exam bed. She moved and I laid Zach on it, and several women scrambled to find the nurse. She came quickly and asked what was going on, then said, "I want help. Call 9-1-1!"

That right there is the hard part, deciding whether you need to call the sacred number 9-1-1. I was very glad I didn't have to make that decision.

I left Zach there for a moment while I ran out to get Jared and Luke. When I got back, the nurse was on the phone with the emergency dispatcher and they'd laid Zach on his side. He was unresponsive, but snoring a little, so we knew he was breathing. Then they handed the phone to me.

The dispatcher had me call out directions to the nurse, as if she didn't know what to do and hadn't already done everything she was telling me to do. I'm not sure she understood that we had a real nurse there with us. But whatever, she was just doing her job. Then the paramedics arrived with a gurney.

I mostly talked to one big blond guy, telling him what had happened. He kept asking, "What are his medical problems?" I insisted that he has no medical problems, and that he wasn't sick, he hadn't fallen, and this was totally out of the blue. I was glad to known exactly how much he weighs, at least. It was now 4:08.

As they checked all his vitals and lifted him onto the stretcher, I noticed that Jared had been swept out of the room and one of the school's office staff was bouncing a smiling Luke on her hip, cooing and talking to him. A paramedic asked which hospital Zach "usually went to." I said we'd only ever been to the one in Meridian, but they decided he should go to St. Al's in Eagle. He said to the other medics, "we'll take him in the ambulance, lights and sirens on," and decided I should ride along.

I called Ryan and he dropped everything to come pick up Luke and Jared, who stayed with the school staff until he arrived.

I thought they'd want me to ride in the back of the ambulance to hold Zach's hand, since he had finally opened his eyes for a few seconds and was crying. But they had me sit up front. It was strange that the siren didn't get louder, then softer and go away, like it usually sounds when I hear it. I have to say, it got rather annoying! It was also strange to see everyone pulling over for us, and to be driving down the middle of the street. And it was even stranger that I had no idea where we were going. I had no idea there is an emergency room in among the hotels and restaurants where we usually park to walk on the Green Belt! Apparently, one of the medics was putting in an IV and checking blood glucose, etc. as we drove.

Everyone was very calm, not at all like ER shows on tv. Of course, Zach wasn't in critical condition or anything, but since my credo is, "don't freak out until the doctor freaks out," I much appreciated the professionals' relaxed attitude.

I answered questions and the paramedics passed along their info to the nurse and doctor at the hospital. Zach was still out of it until the nurse took out his IV to put in a smaller, child-sized IV in his other arm. He did NOT like that, and woke up long enough to tell me that he wanted the band-aid off (from the first IV) and the needle OUT! He also told me he didn't want to be in the hospital. I thought it a good sign that he was aware enough to look around and recognize a hospital setting. But his speech was very very hard to understand, and he soon faded out again.
Ryan arrived with Jared and Luke about 5:00, and I saw that Jared had snagged a book from the van. I'd finished reading Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale and was going to take it back to the library on the way home from school today. I'm glad he had something to occupy himself during all this drama. He said there were lots of words he didn't know, but that he loves the book! It was rather wonderful. I highly recommend it (thanks for the tip off, Sara!)

Since Zach had wet his clothes, I ran home to get a new set (and my camera). Traffic was not cooperating, and I got antsy being away for so long. But when I returned, Zach was still sleeping peacefully. Well, sort of. They'd been trying to wake him, saying he could go home as soon as he was awake and walking around, being himself. But he would have none of it, and ended up like this:
He woke up about 6:30 and perked up pretty quickly, especially when we mentioned that we were going to go to Wendy's for dinner. We were all starving! The doctor came to check on him, and as usual, Zach began to talk his ear off. Pointing to the ceiling, he said, "Hey, that's a funny light. It has a robotic arm." That's our Zachy! The doctor, totally straight-faced, said, "It's not really robotic, it's mechanical." But by then, Zach had noticed a hanging IV bag holder and said, "Hey, that looks like a chandelier!" The doctor looked at us and said, "That's quite a vocabulary." I said, "Yeah, he's back to normal!"

He was not happy when the nurse took out his IV, even though he'd been complaining that it was still there.

As usual, he put on the charm and people started giving him things. Someone gave him a teddy bear as we were ready to leave.

Zach happily ate lots of french fries, some of my hamburger, and drank his favorite, root beer, at Wendy's. It seemed so strange that just minutes earlier, we were in the emergency room, and now, everything looked totally normal again.

As I tucked Zach in bed tonight, we decided that it's a good thing that he doesn't remember any of this. While it sounds exciting to ride in an ambulance, "scared to death" is probably how it feels when you're three.

Our discharge orders were to see his pediatrician first thing next week, and that will hopefully be that!


Giggles said...

How scary! I'm so glad everything is okay now though. I thought it was funny that you grabbed your camera when you were at home. Why didn't I think of grabbing a camera when I was in the ER last year?

Kat said...

I'm so glad to hear that he is doing better. Keep us posted on what happens with the doctors office this next week. We're praying for you!

Cherie said...

Susie that is really, really scary! I am so glad to hear that Zach was well enough to eat at Wendy's and that he is OK.

I hope it was just a one time thing. Yikes!

Emily said...

So sorry to hear what happened! What a scarey and horrible thing to deal with... for your whole family! I still remember Jordyn's first "big" seizure like it was yesterday.
Keep us posted on what happens and give hugs to Zach from our family!