Saturday, June 21, 2008

Long week: Part 1

Part 1: Roswell

Short story:
Crunch (almost 5) had a seizure on Wednesday. After a visit to the local ER, we were airlifted to Albuquerque for testing. Testing is inconclusive (no reason why she seized) and we came home on Saturday.

Long story:
Wednesday afternoon, while visiting a couple of kids for work, I got a phone call from John. I excused myself to take the call because he usually only sends text messages when I'm working. I was in a bad cell area, but I heard, "I think Crunchy is having a seizure" before the phone cut out. I excused myself from the family and headed out to the car. I got ahold of John long enough to decide which hospital to meet at. On the road I called my in-laws to join us, as well as my friend Jenni to start the prayer chain on Hannah's Prayer and my mom. I called my office to have someone cancel appointments for me.

John's story:
After leaving the movie theater, Chewie complained that Crunchy was staring at him. This is not an unusual complaint--they are siblings after all! At first John just called out, "Crunchy, stop staring!". She didn't respond. (Usually she denies it!) Chewie then said, "Daddy, I don't think she's staring at me." John turned around and realized there was something wrong. He pulled out of the drive through at the pharmacy and got out and tried to stimulate a response (touching, pinching, tickling, etc.) No change. About this time, he called me. He got back in and called 911 so they would be ready for us. He declined an ambulance since she was already in the car. While he was on the phone with 911, Crunchy vomited the first time. Without being asked, Chewie leaned across the seat to prop her up so she didn't choke on her vomit. Then she lost consciousness. Chewie lost his grip on her, but immediately grabbed her again. She vomited a second time. John arrived at the hospital, parked in the red zone, and carried her in. She lost bladder control at this point. The ER staff was trying to check her in. John insisted they find a bed. She was unconscious. They finally led him to a bed. I joined him as they were trying to vitals on her.


When I arrived at the hospital, I saw the Suburban parked in front of the ER (in the red zone). Chewie stood up to get my attention. I told him I'd be right back. I went inside and signed some papers, saw that Crunchy was not in the waiting room, and went back to move the car. My in-laws were walking up when I got inside. I asked them to park the car and I ran inside.

I found my baby girl in a non responsive state. She was awake, but her eyes were not really there. She responded to voice, but didn't talk or seem to know who was talking to her. Her mouth was moving, but no sound was coming out. The doctor came in immediately. They started doing blood work. She registered a 101.5 temperature. The doctor wanted to find out if the fever caused the seizure (febrel) or if the seizure caused the fever or if the fever was irrelevant. The doctor ordered a CT scan. He needed to rule out a tumor or bleeding. He told us he would be admitting her. The question is whether it was in Roswell or Albuquerque (3 hours away). He began consulting with a pediatric neurologist in Albuquerque.

At this point, I went outside (to get a cell signal) to call and update people. I also called the church. At this point, I lost it. I spoke to one of our pastors (John, pastor of maturity) who offered to come to the hospital. I called my friend Jennifer whose son started having seizures at 5 months old. She called Angie who got our small group mobilized to pray.

By the time we went to radiology for the CT scan, Crunchy was starting to talk some, but mostly just single word sentences ("Yeah", "no") and familiar phrases ("Love you too"). During the CT scan, I tried to get her to sing with me. (Those of you who have the joy of meeting Crunchy know that she sings ALL the time!) She was scared during the procedure, but they were able to complete it. I carried her to they next room to have a chest x-ray. She was able to stand for the picture. While we waited for the OK to go back, I sang "Yankee Doodle Princess" and she filled in the blank for "Born on the fourth of...________".

We went back to the room. The doctor needed a urine sample. She she was still not quite back to normal, we thought it would be difficult to get one. (We should have tried harder!) The catheter was a horrible experience. With Daddy and a nurse holding her arms, a nurse and I holding her legs, and a nurse doing the catheter, she kept screaming, "Mommy, let go of me. Mommy stop!" It was quite traumatic for all of us. But they got the sample.

By this time, another pastor (Lendell, pastor of ministry) arrived. After a while I encouraged them to go home. I promised to update them when we could. (I did let them pray for us before they left.)

The CT scan showed no tumors (Praise God!) or bleeding (praise God!). The white count was good. There was one thing still bothering the doctor. He could not rule out encephalitis--infection at the base of the brain. He wanted a spinal tap. The pediatrician (not ours, but the on call doctor) did not think she needed to be admitted. She wanted Dr. Wright to either send us home to watch her or do a spinal tap, observe in the ER for 6 hours, and then send us home. Dr. Wright said the other option was to transfer us to Albuquerque and have them do the spinal tap there. If anything was discovered during the spinal tap, they would have to transfer us to Albuquerque anyway. Either way, he was pretty sure we would end up in Albuquerque. Dr. Wright was confident he could justify the transfer because there are no pediatric neurologists in Roswell.

By this time, Crunchy was answering simple questions, and even generating some original thoughts. When the doctor asked her her name, she replied, "Princess Crunchy". :) Dr. Wright asked us how close to normal her behavior was. He was thinking 80-90%. I tried to explain that Crunchy is NEVER quiet. She always talks and sings. This was still not "normal". But it was getting closer.

We began making plans to go. The neurologist in Albuquerque requested that the spinal tap be done in Roswell considering the time required to get their. So I went out to make more phone calls. Jennifer arrived with dinner (thanks Jennifer). Besides updating people, I called our insurance company to arrange for a hotel room in Albuquerque, as well as re-imbursement for gas and food. I didn't have all the details, but she got started. I had to hang up because they were ready to sedate Crunchy for the spinal tap.

The sedative was put into her IV port. After about 10 minutes, it was obvious she was not going to sleep. (Staring at the doctor, she asked, "Why are you all trying to make me go to sleep?") The Dr. told us that the sedative doesn't always make people go to sleep. It usually relaxes people enough that they fall asleep. Some people, like Crunchy, fight through it. We could try more, but it might not make much difference. Also, about this time, they came in to say the flight would be ready in about 30 minutes. We decided we had one chance to try it. Crunchy did not like the idea of anything being done to her, The nurse had to pin her into position, and John and I held on to her arms and legs. She screamed when the doctor put betadine on her back. She screamed and jumped when he put the numbing agent in. He tried one time to do the procedure, but we all agreed that it was time to stop. They would have to do it in Albuquerque.

We began making preparations to head to Albuquerque. At first they said I needed to be under 200 pounds to fly. I'm closer than I was, but I was 232 (down from 267). John headed out to get some clothes and necessities for us. He got enough stuff for 2 or 3 days. He had a 3 hour (under normal circumstances) drive. As Mamaw and Papaw said goodbyes, I updated everyone again. The girl at the insurance company had made the arrangements for us.

By this time, Heather was starving. They wouldn't let her eat before the sedation, and now because she was getting ready to fly. When the flight crew arrived, we learned that we would be flying in an airplane, not a helicopter. We had to wait for an ambulance to take us to the airport. By this time, we knew Crunchy was okay, but we still needed to know why she had a seizure. We couldn't drive because if she had another seizure there is nothing between Roswell and Albuquerque---including a cell signal most of the way! And there is no ambulance that goes that far. So our only option was to fly.

When the ambulance arrived, the driver was a good friend. (His son is one of Chewie's best friends). Crunchy immediately started talking when they transferred her to the gurney. She didn't stop talking until she fell asleep a few minutes before we landed in Albuquerque! At this point, I knew my baby girl was going to be okay. On the way to the airport, I made a few more update calls. John was just leaving town. I made him promise he wouldn't get to Albuquerque before me. He told me he had sent out a text message asking everybody we knew to pray that he didn't see any state troopers 'cause, "I'll be driving faster than I've ever driven".

As we arrived at the airport, I still heard Crunchy chatting away. After a quick "tour" of the emergency exits, I sat down in cockpit of the plane. I had a yoke and pedals and instruments in front of me. (The pilot asked me not to work against him! :) ) Crunchy was loaded and strapped in. The only time she was begging to see out the windows. As soon as she was buckled, they raised the back of her bed so she could see. She was directly behind me, so I couldn't watch her.

The flight was about an hour long. The pilot told me to expect a bumpy ride. Actually, it wasn't bad. We left just before sunset. It was beautiful. We had a storm chasing us, so we had a beautiful lightning show. The pilot pointed things out to me as we traveled. Santa Fe and Albuquerque look very close from the air!

When I get a chance, I'll finish the story in Albuquerque.

3 comments:

Jenni Saake said...

What a week!

Jessie said...

So sorry you had such a crazy week, but am SO glad that your baby girl is doing well!

Killlashandra said...

Wow! I'm so glad she is ok and that you have such an awesome support group. Did you come to UH in ABQ?