Rose had many ear infections that were usually accompanied by fevers. Unfortunately, these fevers sometimes caused febrile(with fever)seizures. We were vigilant about taking her temperature anytime she was sick. If her temperature was elevated, we gave her a children’s liquid form of an NSAID(non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). We tried diligently to prevent her fevers from getting high enough to supposedly cause a seizure. We referred to her problem as a “faulty thermostat”. No fevers, meant no seizures… we thought.
Over the next three years after her initial seizure in the pediatricians office, Rose had eleven more febrile seizures. These were always scary. It seemed as though we just couldn’t prevent them, even though we tried to intervene with over-the-counter medications. We began to suspect that there was more to these events than just fevers.
I began wondering if this condition had a source that was always present, not just something that showed up with fever and illness. Was there something in her brain causing these? Maybe a lesion, tumor or chemical imbalance? When would this end? All children get sick, but most don’t have seizures accompanying illnesses.
I began to feel that the cause was lurking somewhere in Rose, waiting until she was weakened. I suspected that this was no visitor that showed up with illnesses and fevers. This was a resident. I constantly watched for flushed skin and chin twitches.
I did some research. I read all about febrile seizures. No one mentioned the word epilepsy. It crossed my mind, but not my lips. Not my child. It was these ear infections. If we could get them under control, things would be fine. An Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, that’s what we needed. Get some tubes in those ears so that they could drain, the infections would clear, the fevers would stop. Voila’!
Seizure Mama speaks to parents:
Later on there were some suspect incidences that did not involve fevers. Rose referred to them as “tornadoes in her mouth”. I did not know anything about partial seizures. I had never researched epilepsy before. I did not want it to be epilepsy, so I ignored some signs. That’s called denial. Would my being more proactive have made any difference? No one can know that. I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. When there were undeniable signs of something more, I jumped into action. For now the diagnosis was febrile seizures, nothing countered that. I am not one to borrow trouble.
The warning came in the form of a hot diaper. I was sitting at the kitchen table with Rose on my lap. I felt extreme heat radiating across my thighs. I thought I had spilled a cup of hot coffee into my chair, but there was no coffee near me, only squirming and fussy Rose.
When I figured out that the heat was coming from her diaper, I panicked. How could her pee be that hot? All I could think of was getting her to her pediatrician. I knew the fever had to be really high for her urine to be this hot.
I grabbed Rose’s diaper bag along with my purse and headed out the door. I drove straight to the doctor’s office even though I knew it was their lunchtime. I pulled our van into the parking lot facing the door of the office. I paced back and forth outside the open van door while Rose sat quietly in her car seat. The nurse appeared to unlock the door. I removed Rose from her seat and hurried toward the nurse. I quickly explained why we were there without an appointment.
It was a relief to be ushered into the office and down the hallway toward the examination rooms. As the nurse put the thermometer in Rose’s ear she stiffened. Her head tilted back and her eyes rolled up in her head. She was twitching and twisting so strongly, that I could barely keep her in my arms. I screamed the doctor’s name. “She’s having a seizure.” I heard myself yell.
The doctor appeared beside us and cradled Rose’s head as we moved as a group into the nearest patient room. Rose was still jerking as we gingerly placed her on the padded examination table. Then she was eerily still and ashen. She didn’t look the same. Had something changed in those few minutes? Was Rose still in there? I held my breath and waited for a movement or sound. Waiting for some sign that this was over and Rose was back.
The doctor stayed with us. Silently administering acetaminophen rectally. He sponged down Rose’s arms and legs with clothes that were wet with tepid water. Rose began to squirm. I remember taking a deep breath. She stirred some more then looked around and sat up.
The doctor left to see other patients while I sat in the chair holding Rose. I was stunned at what had just taken place. Rose eventually got down on the floor to play with the toys on the rug, as if nothing had happened. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
I had never seen a seizure in person before. I didn’t know anything about childhood seizures. Mama had some serious learning to do. This was not in all those parenting books, or maybe I skipped those parts.
Seizure Mama speaks to parents:
After the shock wore off, I played the terrible parent game called “SECOND GUESSING YOURSELF”. If you have never played a form of this game, go on to the next story. The rest of you, here we go.
This form of the game is called “What if I had…?”. It involves a kind of scientific twist like forming an if/then hypothesis and guessing the various outcomes. In the game you get to be the cause of every calamity. It’s a great game to play at night, in the dark, when you should be getting some much-needed rest.
I will demonstrate.
1. IF I had changed Rose’s diaper and given her a cool drink instead of rushing to the doctor’s office, THEN she might have cooled off and never had that seizure.
2. IF I had changed Rose’s diaper and clothes to a cooler outfit, THEN…
3. IF I had given Rose a dose of an NSAID(non-steroidal anti-inflammatory)drug and a cool drink, THEN…
The possibilities of these variations are endless. You can play all night if you wish.
What is the point of this game? Blame of course. You are in charge of your world, so this seizure must be your fault! I know, that sounds crazy right? Then quit thinking that way about yourself. Bad things happen. Maybe things could have been done differently. Maybe there may have been a different outcome. But you don’t know that. So when you catch yourself playing this terrible game, pat your tired self on the back and roll over and get some sleep.
This is the post excerpt.
If fevers caused the seizures, then all we had to do was stop the fevers.
So we watched diligently for the flushed face. Felt the forehead.
At the slightest hint of a high temp, we pulled out the ear thermometer.
If Rose had a fever, she got liquid product to bring the fever down,
These were usually red or pink. Did they contain RED 40 dye?
Were we actually causing what we thought was a febrile seizure by giving her medication with Red 40 in it?
We didn’t learn that Red 40 was one of her triggers until two decades later.
I can’t beat myself up over something no one knew at the time.
There were twelve febrile seizures before the big one that changed everything.