Sunday, March 15, 2015

What Happened?

Starting about last Saturday (3/7), Evan had a cold. Your typical runny nose/slight cough kind of cold. We still took him out to eat with Isaiah's family, and we took him to church on Sunday. He was fine; he just had a cold. Monday and Tuesday night he woke up quite a bit through the night. Twice, in the morning, he had some spit up/throw up that was just mucus. This was all understandable since he had a cold. Tuesday was especially fitful sleep so I finally turned him over to Isaiah who took him downstairs in the early morning hours to give him something to eat. The next morning (Wednesday) he was EXHAUSTED from the lack of sleep. He had two therapy sessions that were pretty much a bust. His PT even left early because he wouldn't stand or walk. He took multiple naps. Sarah and Maya came to visit in the afternoon. I warned them he would be cranky. They were prepared for the crankiness, but when Evan surprised Sarah with some sudden vomiting they opted to leave for the day. From then on Evan couldn't stomach anything. Every snack or drink he attempted came right back up, including water. The more his food came up, the more tired he became. He was sleeping most of the day. When he was awake he was sitting still on the couch, watching a show with his eyes half closed. He couldn't stand and he didn't want to crawl.

At this point we had two thoughts in our minds (and obviously we hoped that the first was true).

1) Flu
2) Or maybe, just maybe, this is a shunt failure

Shunt failure?
Shunts save lives. Shunts are also highly faulty. From before Evan was born we knew the signs of needing a shunt and the signs of shunt failure. Big head, vomiting, fever, lethargy--unable to wake, sunsetting eyes. Since it's so similar to the common flu I was told to always "wait a day" when you notice symptoms. After a day you tend to have a better idea of what's going on. (Also, if you go into an emergency room after your kid has had flu-like symptoms for just one day, they tend to dismiss you as an overly-paranoid parent, which we try to avoid being.) So Thursday night, when Evan was still unable to eat/drink anything, we drove to the ER, thinking, even if it was just the flu, he might benefit from some extra fluids. The wait at the hospital would have been 1-2 hours. We weren't that desperate yet, so we took him home, opting to go to Urgent Care in the morning.

The doctor at Urgent Care seemed understanding. "Sounds like it could be some virus." He prescribed zofran to calm Evan's stomach so he could eat. He told us if the vomiting continued or if he had signs of dehydration we should go to the ER. I made sure to mention that Evan had a shunt and we thought this could be shunt-related. He didn't validate my concern.

I picked up the magic pills and gave one to Evan. We went on a walk in the stroller while the pill took effect. When we got home he drank 1/4 cup of milk. It was the first thing to stay down in 2 1/2 days. Evan fell asleep on the couch.

While he was sleeping I was on the couch next to him Googling (for the umpteenth time) the signs of shunt failure. Increased head size? No. Fever? No. Unable to wake up? Not really...he was tired but I could get him awake. Vomiting? Yes. I just couldn't tell yet.

He started crying. I tried to pick him up but he was bending backwards so I couldn't hold him very well. His whole body got tight. Everything went rigid. He legs turned out kinda funny and his hands curled all palsy-like. His eyes went up and to the left. I had never seen one, but I figured this was a seizure. My first panicked instinct was to catch it on camera. (Ok, so I'm not the most experienced first responder) I put him on the couch and filmed him with the iPad for a few seconds. When he didn't relax I tried to pick him up again. I could tell his chest was tightening like he was holding his breath. Then his lips turned blue. I patted his cheeks and pushed on his chest twice, thinking that it would knock him conscious so he would breathe.

Am I trying to do CPR? Do I even remember how to do CPR? Are any of my neighbors doctors? If I leave the house to find someone to help will Evan be breathing when I come back?

My next thoughts were fast and confused.

Get him to the ER...NOW
I don't think he'll cooperate with the car seat
I'll pick up a neighbor to hold him while I drive
Can I get to the hospital fast enough?
Wow, I think my child just had a seizure
Is he going to stop breathing in the car?

I grabbed my phone, keys, wallet, and Evan, and rushed to the car. I couldn't get him in the carseat.

Plan B (which obviously should have been Plan A)
Call 911

Now my real first aid training was kicking into my memory.

9.1.1. Send
Remain calm (I'm breathing fast)
Speak clearly (I'm crying)

I couldn't hold Evan and my phone so I put him down by the garage door while I gave my address and tried to answer questions about the seizure and his current condition. The person on the phone told me what to do and how to position Evan.

For the benefit of anyone reading this who may be present during a seizure:

1) Do not attempt CPR. Let the person go through the seizure.
2) Place the person away from anything they could hit if they start shaking
3) Try to position the person on their side. Often they will throw up and placing them on their side will prevent the throw up from choking them

Basically, don't do anything I did. Except DO call 911, especially if they stop breathing or if it is a first time seizure.

The person on the phone kept talking to me until I could hear the fire truck's siren. The fire station is less than a mile away and the fire truck and ambulance arrived SO fast. They gave Evan an oxygen mask and tested his blood sugar. They got his carseat from my car and strapped it to the stretcher for the ambulance ride. They reminded me to lock up the house. They drove my car to the hospital so I'd have a way home. (In my mind I'd be returning before Isaiah would make it to the hospital.) They were calm and clear and helpful and nice. And I was brave and calm (ish) and answered all their questions. I just felt bad Evan wasn't conscious enough to get excited about the fire truck and ambulance.

And...this will be continued in a future post.


  1. I feel so blessed that Evan and Isaiah have you, Jenna.