Monday, December 29, 2008

When time stands still


As many of you may have heard we had quite a scare on Friday and I thought it would be helpful to recap the day here on the blog. Our house had been beleaguered with the plague for about a week. It skipped happily from child to child inciting an epic flow of bodily fluids. First Nathaniel then Benjamin and then Joelle and by the fourth kid, having used up it's potency, merely annoyed Evelyn with foul smelling diapers. With the boys it lasted 24 hours but it stuck with Joelle. For her this started on Wednesday night (Christmas Eve) and lasted until the day after Christmas. Joelle, Janice and I did not sleep more than 2 straight hours each night while tending to Joelle's "Coughing" (her word for vomit) and the changing of sheets, clothes and giving bathes.

Friday morning was blurry and forced. Joelle was tired and irritable. It was a late morning and breakfast became a warm oatmeal lunch. Joelle finished her bowl of oatmeal and a few cups of juice scowling and obviously not feeling well. I went to the kitchen and started cleaning the dishes when I heard a deep throated moaning sound that will echo in my memory forever. I turned to see Joelle stretching both arms in the air painfully leaning to one side with her eyes rolled back. I yelled to Janice and we ran over to Joelle. Janice unbuckled her and I lifted her out of her booster seat. She was rigid and shaking as if trying to move while being forcibly restrained. She was having a seizure. It lasted around 2 minutes but felt like hours culminating with blue lips, pale skin, rolled eyes, shallow breathing and a racing heart. It was terrifying. Janice immediately dialed 911 while I held my little girl and paced around the room with my ear at her chest monitoring her quiet breathing. Her eyes were loosely closed and body was limp with no response to any stimulus. The ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later allowing time to call our cousin who came to watch the kids and my sister in California. The prayer chain was started at our church and my sister's as I drove our van behind the ambulance. Janice and Joelle were inside.

Once at the Children's Medical Center in Albany, NY Joelle was rolled in and transfered to a bed in a hallway as we waited for a room. She was barely awake looking around her as if in a confused dream; looking at Janice and I as familiar strangers. The nurse took her vital signs and moved us to a room where Joelle fell asleep. At that point we entered the ER time zone where time endlessly passes by the room in green gowns and crying children but the clock on the wall never moves. Joelle slept. An IV was started and she slept some more. After examinations by ER nurses and doctors much talk of tests and more tests were floating through our heads as we waited for the Neurologist. As we waited something changed. Joelle was awake, more than awake she had returned to normal. She arrived listless around 1:15pm and 6 hours later she laughed. It was the awakening that comes after being sick and getting a long night of sleep. When you have nearly forgotten what it is like to be healthy. It was a quick transformation from dull to bright eyed that started about 6:30pm and peaked at 7pm the same time the Neurologist arrived. She found nothing remarkable in our recounting of the experience or during her test of Joelle's physical responses. The lab tests revealed some dehydration. Everything pointed to a febrile seizure with a combination of a fever and lack of electrolytes as the contributing factors. We were relieved and amazed to find out that it was not an uncommon occurrence in children from ages 6m-7 years old (1 in 25 children) but certainly not a frequent one. Although we do need to be a bit more careful whenever she has a cold but the odds are low that she will experience another seizure.

After we were issued a clean bill of health we were eventually discharged from the hospital and happily drove our little girl home. It was a long day and we all needed sleep. Saturday morning a bright eyed little girl crawled in bed with me and snuggled for a long time.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!!!

As a tradition our family reads the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. This year we purchased a Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set to add some props to the story. On Christmas Day I asked Nathaniel and Benjamin to tell me the story as they remembered it.

Merry Christmas from the Stewarts!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow....

I am a sunny west coast boy. When I was growing up you had to "go" to the snow. If the snow came to you there was always a quick glance to the horizon checking for an ominous set of horseman. Now I am a sunny west coast boy living in upstate Siberia wondering why I took that left turn at Albuquerque. I am learning quite a bit about winter. For example: I never knew I could walk on mud and not get muddy nor that snow can drift like sand dunes but feels nothing like sand when you drive over it. This weekend NY conducted a snow storm just for our family. It was a celebration of our first winter in NY. The week prior was a celebration in solid ice. They are pulling out all the stops for our arrival. So nice. Not that I mind the cold - winter snuggling is extended by a several months as is the consumption of Hot Chocolate. Our kids love the snow and dressing up like stuffed pillows before rolling, throwing and stacking every available flake. So I fully expect my son to move to the west coast when he gets married and wonder at the soft gritty dunes, far off snowy mountains and sneak a peak at the horizon when his neighbor wears shorts and a tank top on January 1st.