Friday evening we were going to see the Buttons and Bows Show. Brandon had recommended it and I was really looking forward to it. We had the grandparents lined up for babysitting and everything was going great. Julie picked me up from work at 6pm and we headed over to Waterloo for some hamburgers and a pint of Firemen’s #4 before the show. As we were about to leave Julie looked at her cell phone for some reason. We had 3 missed calls. She listened to the messages and my mom was asking that we giver her a call back ASAP. We called her and she said that Gideon had bit Stella, but that everything was ok. I asked if she thought we needed to come home (since at this point I’m imaging that Stella got nipped by the dog and maybe drew a little blood, but nothing major). She said yes, that they had already tried to take her to urgent care and been turned away because they didn’t have permission to get health care for Stella.
We headed home. Julie feeling horrible that she hadn’t gotten the cell phone messages the minute they arrived. We got to my parent’s house to find a very calm Stella, and two not horribly calm grandparents. The first thing my mom told me was that she was going to have her dog put to sleep. Being an animal lover I begged her not to do that yet.
Stella it turned out had 3 bites. One small slice on the edge of her ear. One big gash on the inside of her ear, and one puncture wound on the back of her neck behind her ear. The bleeding had stopped when we got there, so we called our pediatrician to see if it needed immediate care or could wait for a doctor’s visit on Monday. The on call physician told us that it needed to be cleaned so we should go to a hospital. I called my insurance to locate an Urgent Care. After about 10 minutes on the line they told me there were no Urgent Care Facilities within 30 miles of my zip code. I thanked them for their time and told them I’d go look it up on the Internet. She told me she could forward me to someone to get gap coverage. Right.
I went upstairs and found 2 urgent care facilites within 2 miles of our house (and probably hundreds within 30 miles of our zip code). Fantastic customer care. We headed off to one that was open until 9. At the urgent care they got to us pretty quickly. They took Stella’s temperature and looked at her vital signs. Then a doctor came in and said they couldn’t help us. Apparently they would have wanted to use a topical anesthetic to put in the stitches and they can’t do that because they don’t have resuscitation equipment. They did refund our $50, however.
So at about 9:00 we headed over to Seaton SouthWest’s emergency room. It was pretty small, but there was no one really in it. They got us in pretty quickly. They checked out Stella’s ear. We had a nurse come in to clean it. We swaddled Stella in a sheet and for about 20 minutes they worked on cleaning out her wounds and putting on some of the smallest steri-strip stitches you’ve ever seen. Stella cried a lot, but mostly she was a trooper. It was after her bedtime and she was drooping. We did get to spend some fun time with her reading while waiting for the doctors, though.
They gave her an antibiotic, and took her temperature again. We got to talk to a social worker before we were discharged. She seemed intent on making this into a life lesson.
Her: “Well, I guess you won’t be letting her play with stange dogs”
Us: “It wasn’t a strange dog.”
Her: “I guess you won’t be leaving her alone with a dog anymore”.
Us: “She wasn’t alone with the dog. The dog was under the table. Stella was right next to her grandparents who were eating.”
Her: “I guess you wont’ be letting her have food around a dog anymore”
Us: “She didn’t have food. She was done eating.”
Her: “Well, I guess…”
We got discharged at about 10:45. We were at home around 11pm and in bed soon after that. Some time before we went to bed I asked Julie if she really wanted more kids, after that kind of a night…
A little before 2am Stella cried a little bit. I went in and she was lying on her injured ear. I flipped her over, patted her on her back and she went back to sleep. As did I.
At about 2am, she starts crying again. Sobbing crying. With no lead up to it. I had just started to drift back off to sleep so I found it hard to get back up. Julie immediately hopped out of bed and went in there. I hear her call me over the monitor, then again, and then shout my name. I ran in there and she told me to call 911, that Stella was having a seizure. She had Stella cradled in her arms. One of Stella’s arms was stiffly at a 30 degree angle from her body. Her eyes were focused, unseeing above and to the left of us. Her fists were balled up tight. Her body jerked rhythmically every half second or so, and each time she let out a sob. Eventually she started frothing and drooling.
It was the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen. I’m really surprised it has never been used in a horror movie. I can see how in the middle ages they thought people having seizures were being tormented by some unseen demon. That’s exactly what it looks like.
911 told me not to restrain her, and that once she stopped seizing,we should roll her on her side. So we just watched. I had Julie go get dressed. And we watched. And then I went and got dressed. And we watched. And I ran up and down the stairs. Like 12 times. And I’d watch Stella. Then I’d go run down and look for the ambulance. We were both shaking. We were so powerless.
Stella’s seizures stopped after about 3 minutes. We rolled her over on her side. She was completely unresponsive. Her fists were still balled up, but she was breathing. About 30 seconds later the paramedics and fire truck arrived. Which was fast. Ridiculously fast. They came upstairs and it seemed like there were 100 of them. There were really only 3 paramedics and 4 fire fighters, but that was still a lot of people. Julie was inside the room, and I was outside. Trying to peer in, around all the firefighters. One firefighter had me get a wet towel to help lower her body temperature. She was at a 104.3. They put in an IV, and I saw them do the heel prick test. She cried at that, which was a tremendous relief. It was the first time she’d really responded since the seizures.
One of the firefighters in the hall told me what was going on. That it was a febrile seizure, brought on by a fever. He suggested I get Julie’s purse and any paperwork on Stella’s first hospital visit of the night. I got everything ready and they took Stella downstairs. They put her on a full-size stretcher and took her out the door. I got out her carseat and they attached her it to the stretcher in the ambulance and then put her in it. Julie got in the ambulance and I got in the car to follow her. It looked like half of our neighborhood was up watching what was going on.
I sat in the driveway with the car on for about 10 minutes as they got everything settled in the ambulance. I was shaking. I called my parents, but their phones were off. We finally started going after 10 minutes. I kept up with the ambulance until we got on IH-35. At the stoplights I could see Stella’s little body looking back at me from her carseat on the stretcher. Framed in those small ambulance windows. Lit by the sickly fluorescent green lights. I could see Julie to her side. Looking at her. White as a sheet. Not really moving. It was the hardest drive of my life. Thankfully the radio was on 90.5. I didn’t even think about it, but it happened to be during Lauri’s show. I’ve never been so glad to here a friend’s voice in my life. I’m not sure if I could have made that drive without completely loosing it, if I hadn’t heard Lauri talking. It was very lonely.
They took Stella to Dell Children’s Center. I got lost on the way there, due to a lack of signs. I ended up a gas station that pointed me back in the right direction. When I got there, Stella was checked in and responsive. We settled into the waiting room with her, and just cuddled. She was soaking wet from sweat and it was wonderful to have her in our arms. The episode of Roseanne where they won the lottery was on the waiting room TV. And really not funny. After about 10 minutes of waiting they had a room for us.
We went in and waited for the doctor. He came in and explained that they used to think febrile seizures were caused by untreated fevers, but now they thought it had something to do with the speed the body temperature went up. It was pretty obvious to us it wasn’t an untreated fever, since Stella had had her temperature taken once at the urgent care, and twice at the previous emergency room and had been normal. The best we can think is that the stress of the day and not going to bed until very late had allowed an opportunistic virus the chance to really take over.
We were in the hospital until about 6am. They took x-rays since her fever had been so high. They took blood. The wouldn’t have normally, but since the iv had been put in and they didn’t have to actually stick any more needles in Stella to get the blood, they figured it wasn’t a bad idea. They also put in a catheter to get urine. Which was pretty horrible. The first nurse couldn’t get the catheter in. About 30 minutes later she returned with another nurse, who couldn’t get the catheter in. About an hour later they returned with a third nurse who finally got it in. Poor Stella kept getting woken up for those. At about 5am she no longer wanted to sleep on the hospital bed and wanted to be held. Unfortunately if we moved she’d start sobbing. It was pretty uncomfortable, but it was nice to cuddle with her all the same. At some point during that Julie brought up my question about wanting to have more kids that I posed after the dog bite. We both agreed that nights like the one we’d just had made it very hard to think about having more kids. Of course, memory is short…
We got discharged with no real answers about why any of this had happened and headed home. We put Stella to bed. Turned up the monitor really loudly and passed out.
When we woke up at around 9:30am, Stella still had a fever. We treated her with ibuprofen. Julie had to go to a rehearsal so I asked my parent’s if they’d come over and help out. I was still horribly tired and just didn’t know how much more care I could provide. At least competently. They came over and I got a shower and some food. I started calling my sister’s who were all on the warpath about the dog bite (they had left me messages mentioning shotguns for the dog), but they knew nothing about the seizure. My little sister Christine decided to come up, just so she could be there for me, and hug on Stella. She ended up bringing her husband Brian (who is really fond of Stella), and my sister Caroline. It was really, really nice to have my family around after such a stressful night.
Oh, and at 2:30pm on Saturday we had an offer presented by our Realtor. We sent back a counter offer and by 4:00 we learned that they had accepted. So in less than 24 hours we had gone to the hospital twice and sold our house.
The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful.