‘She just has a runny nose, call me when blood is pouring out of her ears’
‘A wet cough, that’s it – why are you so worried? My baby has a fever of 103’
‘She’s a baby it’s just a cold…trust me’
Those are normally the response you get as a new parent. Because of that you begin to question your sanity and your skills as a responsible parent. You have to understand in no other part of your life is it as black and white as a baby’s health. If there isn’t a fever plus weird other symptoms no one bats an eye. We tried to take that approach because who wants to be the crazy parent at the pediatrician’s office every time their baby gets a cold. Not me.
Mila had a cough/cold for about a week and then on the night of May 11 her temperature rose to 99. That’s still under the pediatrician’s mandated tipping point of 102. We were concerned but we gave her Tylenol with the hopes that the fever would not rise. Well, the opposite happened, Mila woke up at 3am and wanted to eat as normal but then something different happened. Her temperature rose to 101.7 and she became unresponsive. Her eyes were open but she wasn’t making eye contact. She went limp in my wife’s arms and then mine. She continued to stare at the ceiling unable to focus on anything. We begin to panic. We have never seen her in this condition. At this time we are preparing to go the hospital so I take her outside because the fresh air normally calms her. Nothing. Normally I’m the calm one under pressure and the only thing I could think of was that we came this far to have a child and we couldn’t keep her alive. I could not muster positive thought. I had to switch into task mode and get us to a hospital.
We rush out the house without a game plan. We just moved so we had no idea where the closest hospital was. I left my phone in the apartment and we only had my wife’s phone which was at 7% and of course for some reason she didn’t have a car charger. I tried to navigate to the closest hospital but some reason my wife’s location was off and it wasn’t finding anything. I furiously search my pockets only to find that I left my phone at the apartment. The anxiety and panic is starting to rise. Unfortunately we had to go the only hospital we knew – North Fulton. If you’re reading this and you live in the Atlanta metro area you probably just gasped and realized what a mistake that was.
We race to North Fulton running every red light in our way (I can’t wait until those tickets come). We made it North Fulton and then I realize that my wife’s car was almost out of gas. We felt like the worst parents in the world. That’s not only on my wife – I chose to take her car because I knew my car didn’t have any gas. Why you may ask? Because I’m lazy. After fighting traffic for 30 minutes that last thing I wanted to do that night was stop by a gas station. You live and learn and now we both know to not let our cars get under a ¼ of a tank. We arrive to North Fulton only to find them completely unprepared to take care of a 6 month old. When I say unprepared – picture the 3 Stooges trying to change a light bulb.
At this point Mila is still unresponsive and she begins to have convulsions. She begins to have seizures that seemingly last forever. We have the bumbling hospital staff trying to start an IV and using an adult size oxygen mask on her. WTF? I’ve watched enough ER, Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice to know that these people were clueless. I mean is there a Dr. Doug Ross or Dr. Addison Montgomery on staff? Naw, we wouldn’t be that lucky. They continuously fail to get an IV started. They decided to start treating her ativan (anti-seizure medication) to stop the seizures. It took 3 doses before there were able to have a break in the seizures. It felt like hours have passed but maybe only 1. It’s hard to tell at this point. Because they keep failing at the IV the regular way they want to try to start one in her knee (which has left a scar that looks like the Gucci symbol) and that failed. Of course it would fail they haven’t been successful at many things at this point.
In a room with 1 doctor, maybe 4 nurses and someone from administration the room was scarily quiet. While they were trying to administer treatment we had questions no one would say a word. Nothing. It was the scariest silence of my life. I finally blurted out – “SOMEONE SAY SOMETHING”. The only response was mumbles and we are doing our best. Luckily someone had the bright idea to call Children’s Hospital and they began the process of sending a transport. They had the bright idea of tracheal intubation her because of their inability to start an IV.
“You need to intubate her? Why?”
“Because we are unable to start an IV”
“Is that normal?”
“Is that normal!?”
Thankfully the Children’s Hospital transport arrived before they could do that. They advised that intubation was not necessary in this case. They were finally able to sedate Mila and prep her for transport. Now we have another problem. Its 4:30am and there isn’t an open gas station in Roswell. I didn’t realize we lived in Mayberry. There isn’t enough gas to make it to the hospital so what do I do? Call roadside assistance because they will give you a free 3 gallons and that should be enough to get me to one of those novel 24 hour gas stations that the locals hear about on the news.
We made it to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. You could immediately tell the difference in care between the hospitals. One was competent and the other wasn’t. She was diagnosed with Febrile Seizures that were brought on by two viral infections: HMPV (Respiratory) and Sapovirus (GI) This affects anywhere from 2-5% children. There are hereditary markers that have been discovered but it usually dissipates by the age of 5. She was in the hospital for 3 days and 2 of those days she was unable to open her eyes. She was so uncomfortable. She was hooked to so many machines and because of the anti-seizure medication her eye lids were swollen. She was not the happy active baby that we have grown accustomed to.
There were many prayers and positive thoughts that were sent our way and we are so appreciative. This was a lesson for us as parents. Always keep gas in your car and your phones charged. The irony is that we both work for a telecommunications company. Trust me the irony isn’t lost on that. It also showcased the blessing of an open adoption. Because we had an open adoption we were able to reach Mila’s birth paternal grandmother and find out that her birth father had Febrile Seizures. Those are the small things that the adoption paperwork won’t tell you because he only had one when he was a small child. This whole ordeal has given Mila the courage of Leonidas when he was facing the Persians. She has since been testing her limits which including dangling off of the edges of beds and lunging over her toys as an attempt to jump over them. I fear what that future hold once she starts to walk. Oy vey.