Though our daughter has spent her fair share of time in pediatric wards over the past few years — always without complaint and never failing to win over the staff with her sunny disposition and ready smile — this week was truly frightening, I just didn’t realize just how shaken up I was until a today.
Though our Avery has many challenges, we try not to focus on the “what ifs.” Research tells us that many of the significant medical issues for our daughter tend to present later in life, if at all.
Since Avery’s intial diagnosis we’ve had our ups and downs. Mostly ups thankfully. Doctors told us that Avery may never walk, or talk but she has proved them wrong by doing both. Tuesday however, after celebrating the great results of her PERFECT hearing test, things took a turn.
I went to wake Avery from her afternoon nap — a nap that I let go on longer than usual after a long day of appointments. When I entered her room I knew something was wrong. She was unconscious and covered in vomit.
I tried not panic and did a finger sweep. I didn’t feel an obstruction and she was breathing, though in a laboured, raspy way. I couldn’t wake her up so I called 911. The next few minutes were surreal. I explained to my six year old what was about to happen so he wouldn’t be afraid when the paramedics arrived. He stayed pressed against the wall and said to me, in the middle of it all, “Mummy. You don’t have to worry about me. I’m fine. Just help Avery. I’m okay.” This would’ve broken my heart if it hadn’t already been shattered into a million pieces worrying about my little girl.
They worked on Avery on our couch in the living room. It’s a blur, but I recall our neighbour from across the street, a pediatrician, standing behind me. I quickly called my in-laws, who thankfully live only blocks away, to come over to take care of our son.
Avery was unconscious for nearly three hours. They did a battery of tests in the ER including a lumbar puncture, a CT Scan and blood work — all of which came back normal. We were quarantined nonetheless for 48 hrs pending the results of a meningitis culture. It’s hard being isolated, but at least we got a private suite, six rooms down from the “happy” place where Avery spent her first days of life as a newborn.
Three nights spent in the pediatric ward with no clear answers other than that a virus may have triggered a seizure (two actually) and we would have to wait to see if it was an isolated incident or if it was an epileptic episode. The doctor says it is. I hope beyond hope that he is wrong.
We were discharged after four days and were relieved to be home. A few hours later, Avery’s temperature skyrocketed and we were back in hospital. More tests were administered and once again a mystery virus was deemed the culprit.
Today it really hit me — how serious and scary it all was. I’m an emotional person but in stressful situations something takes over and all visible emotion shuts off so I can focus on what needs to be done. Until this afternoon. I went out for an hour to pick up some groceries, specifically lots of hydrating yummy foods that Avery will possibly eat. A block from home I heard the sirens. Then I saw the firetruck heading toward my house. My heart stopped while I waited to see if the truck would turn down my street or carry on past.
Thankfully it carried on and then I cried. Hard. All the way home and into my house. I couldn’t stop. And then I did. I wiped my eyes and hugged my babies and my husband and then got on with making dinner.
I didn’t sign up for this, but I will serve and protect willingly and lovingly. I fully anticipate many more heart breaking, terrifying and teary moments to come. However they will not overshadow the heart fulfilling, happy-tear moments that are surely in store for us as well.