Turning The Tide Of Childhood–The Apron Strings are Loosed

I think of my younger daughter as exceptionally healthy, but maybe she just doesn’t fuss about being sick. She has certainly had her share of colds where she went along her way, just used a lot of tissues. She gave me the biggest scare of any of my children when she had a febrile seizure when she was 13 months old and on vacation.

We were in Florida in July and we went to a wildlife park. Near the end of our visit, we got tickets to go on a boat and see monkeys, lemurs, and gibbons up close on little islands. The animals won’t go in the water, so they are not actually caged, just moated, as the case may be. As we waited for the boat, my daughter ran around energetically, keeping herself busy in the 92 degree heat. Once on the boat, about twenty feet from the dock, she had a seizure.

The captain returned immediately to the dock, but was so shaken that he refused to take the boat back out and it was the last tour of the day. I took no notice as I was running towards the front of the park. We got there before the ambulance and I spoke on the phone with the dispatcher who instructed me in ensuring my baby was still breathing, etc.

It was a long ambulance ride and a rough couple of days ensuring that she was ok. There were no pediatric ER doctors there, which ultimately resulted in more tests than she actually needed. In the end, she was fine once she was re-hydrated and had some medicine for her fever. Back home our pediatrician was nonchalant, telling us the virus was very common and easily diagnosed. The only long-term advice was to give her rotating/overlapping doses of Motrin and Tylenol whenever she had a fever until she was 8 years old to prevent another seizure.

Later illnesses all seemed to follow the same pattern (and fortunately she never had another febrile seizure). When she would get a virus that made her vomit, she couldn’t take even a sip of water or a tiny ice chip without retching. The first time this happened, I took her to the pediatrician and she got an anti-emetic shot. That did it. She was out like a light bulb for 36 hours and then awoke “cured”.  This happened a few times, but not since she was about 8 years old.

So, when I heard her coughing in the middle of the night, I thought it was her newly-diagnosed asthma (one which we hope is an isolated response to a virus during a polar vortex during basketball season). In the morning, I went to get her up and asked if she was feeling ok. She didn’t respond to me, so I spoke louder and told her it was time to get up. Her response was an indignant, “I can’t go to school today, I’ve been throwing up and the rule is I can’t go back to school for 24 hours!”

Almost 13 years after having that febrile seizure, when I woke every hour to check on her and gave her medication every three hours, she is now letting me sleep when she is sick. I feel it is a new milestone…she still needs her mom, but she’s getting quite independent too.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the silver-lining on the way to the empty nest!


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