We’ve all had those days where we have been consumed by a tiny creature riddled with germs. Yes — I’m talking about the dreaded fever days with a toddler. I can still replay most of the day in slow motion even three years later. My eighteen month old daughter had been sick for two days in a row. It was a Sunday around noon, and I knew my husband was about to leave for work. This meant it was my only opportunity to escape the grasp of my very clingy girl, so I ran into the shower. I’d spent the last twenty-four hours so close to her that I could feel the germs. The water was hot and I was feeling the grit and grime wash away along with some of the stress of having a sick kiddo.
And then it happened.
My husband came in and said, “you need to get out of the shower right now.” I’m not proud of the next thoughts that went through my head. I couldn’t believe that he was bothering me during these fifteen minutes of relief. Begrudgingly, I stepped out of the shower, wrapped myself in a towel, and walked out of the bathroom to see what possibly couldn’t wait for me to even wash my hair.
Stepping out of that bathroom rocked my entire world. In my husband’s arms was an almost unresponsive little girl. I could tell she was breathing, but the look of panic on my husband’s face was unmistakable. I have no idea what he said to me for the next five minutes except he convinced me to get dressed and be ready for the ambulance when it arrived. He told me statistics that I would never remember. He had ice packs all around my girl and just kept talking to her. It was the longest five minutes of my life. My dog watched and didn’t even bark at the stream of men that ran into our house to retrieve “his baby” and me. It was like he knew they were there to help. In a whirlwind, we were rushed off to the hospital in an ambulance.
The EMTs were amazing and reassured me that my husband had responded exactly the right way and that she would be okay. My beautiful girl had had a febrile seizure. In the coming months, I would scour the internet for every piece of information I could find to avoid this ever happening again. And while we minimized the episodes, it would happen a few more times.
When we arrived at the hospital I was shocked at the response we received. Questions like:
Are you sure it was a seizure?
Why did you come to the ER? It was ONLY a febrile seizure.
Had you checked her temperature?
How long was the seizure? Did you time it?
I sat in shock when medical professionals didn’t understand that my tiny baby had just had a seizure! I brought her to the ER because, well, she had a seizure! Of course we had checked her temperature and had given her medicine but clearly it wasn’t enough. And I have no idea how long the seizure was. It felt like an hour, but it was probably closer to 1 or 2 minutes. The doctor came in and informed us that she was well enough to take home, and that if she had another one we could keep her home because febrile seizures weren’t a big deal and don’t cause any long term damage. While my extensive research supported his statements, they didn’t come close to easing my anxiety that day. What I needed them to say was that I couldn’t have done anything to avoid a febrile seizure and she will be okay.
Febrile seizures happen and most aren’t avoidable. They come on due to extreme increase (or decrease) in temperature and children will most likely outgrow them by five to six years old. My daughter is now five and I still check her temperature at the slightest sniffle. Luckily for us, she’s been seizure free for a little over a year. I’m not sure how long it will take my anxiety around fevers to fade, but to any mom in the thick of it I would tell them: you couldn’t have avoided this, and your child will be okay.
Please note that while febrile seizures present no long term harm, I am in no way saying not to seek medical attention. Any and all children experiencing a seizure should be seen by a medical professional.