“Quinn is having some kind of seizure here in the school office and we’re calling 911.”
Are there words that would make me move faster? I can’t imagine what.
I had just gotten back from swimming at the Y and was still in my sweatpants, my hair was soaking wet. I didn’t have on socks. I called Ian at the violin store and told him what had just been told to me as I jammed on my shoes and ran out the door. I left both doors unlocked and the phone off the hook.
Every light was red between my house and the school. All the cars I was behind seemed infuriatingly slow. There was a firetruck outside the school, lights still flashing. I parked directly behind where Ian had parked the minivan moments before, and ran all the way into the building.
The copy room off the main office was filled with people: paramedics, the principal, the school nurse, my husband…. And my little Quinn unconscious on a blue stretcher, an oxygen mask on his face. I leaned down on the floor near my son and realized I was shaking.
It’s hard to even describe what a sight like that does to you. You want to stay calm and can’t. You want to be positive and your mind darts to horrible places. You are completely absorbed in the moment and strangely feel yourself slipping somewhere else. You wonder what comes next but you don’t want to know.
Apparently while Quinn’s class was walking to the library he started acting fatigued and whiny, when all of a sudden he went limp and passed out. Luckily, of all the people in the school, Quinn happened to be walking next to the nurse, who caught him as he fell so he didn’t hit his head. She rushed him to the office where they called our emergency contact when our home and work lines were busy (because at that moment Ian and I were talking to each other), then finally got a hold of us.
The paramedics were efficient and very nice. They recommended we take an ambulance to Children’s Hospital. They asked me if I thought as his mom I could get Quinn to wake up.
I squeezed his hand and said his name. His eyes opened a little as if he were very sleepy, then closed again. I kept talking to him and he opened his eyes a little more. The first thing that got him to respond to me? When I asked him if he knew what should be arriving in the mail today or tomorrow. He answered quietly, eyes still shut, “Latin Is Fun Book I.” *
Eventually Quinn was awake enough to climb into my lap. He was not very responsive to the paramedics and their questions, but he also doesn’t like crowds or being the center of attention, so we assured people this didn’t look out of character to us, even though he wasn’t showing the kind of energetic signs that they would find promising. He was happy to get onto the rolling bed they needed to strap him to for the ride in the ambulance. They gave him a truly all-purpose bracelet that neither of us were crazy about:
The ride to the hospital was blissfully uneventful. The EMT told me based on the facts as he saw them that he doubted Quinn had had a seizure. He hadn’t trembled or gone stiff. He hadn’t lost control of his bladder or bowels. The EMT said he would term it a syncopal episode–a general fainting. The last time Quinn was in the hospital it was for dehydration as a result of his being sick. Quinn’s been sick for about a week, but seemed to be doing much better. He had one night of fever several days ago, was fine in the morning, and has just had a lingering cough but not bad enough to keep him from doing his normal routine. Until today. He hadn’t had anything to drink, and had eaten only a small bite of toast. Quinn isn’t much of a breakfast person and often doesn’t feel like eating. Starting tomorrow we will make sure he at least has a cup of juice and a bite of something before we send him off to school, even if he’s not in the mood.
The Children’s Hospital here is very good, and people were helpful, but Quinn was back to his old self by the time we got a room there. Ian met us, and brought me my laptop and DVD’s for Quinn to watch if we needed them. Our son was understandably a low priority, as he should have been compared to other children I saw there, but we waited for over three hours before we gave up on seeing the last doctor. Nurses listened to him breathe, his blood sugar was perfect, his blood pressure was back to normal, a doctor said she didn’t have an explanation but that Quinn seemed fine to her, and that was enough.
We played I Spy until everything there was to spy with our little eyes had been spied. Quinn ate animal crackers, saving the best animals for last (those being the owl, the turtle, and a mystery animal he decided was a beaver). We made him drink some juice, and he even had a Pop Tart that Ian had brought along. But it was time to go home and pick our other children up from school and get some real food into Quinn. If I really felt the last doctor was likely to say something new we would have stayed, but I just didn’t think it was worth making our day even more complicated than it had already been. I never made it to work (my assistant filled in for me–thanks Robyn!), I didn’t get any of the projects or errands done when I was expecting to do them…. Hell, I never even got properly dressed. It was time to go home.
I told Quinn I wasn’t going to go in to work, that I was just going to stay with him for the afternoon, and he cheered. He read me his books about butterflies, dolphins and goldfish that we picked up at the last book fair. He ate an egg and some toast. He drew on his white board and talked and jumped and danced and did all his regular Quinn things. He was just my sweet boy, like nothing had happened.
So now I’m both relieved and wary. I’m glad Quinn is fine. No, I’m thrilled beyond measure that he’s fine. But, what was that? The whole episode has left me anxious and uncertain. Quinn looks great now, but I’m afraid to let him out of my sight. I don’t think he will faint again anytime soon, but since we don’t know for sure what caused it, it’s not safe to make predictions. But I suppose that’s true of parenting all the time anyway.
* An explanation about Quinn and “Latin Is Fun Book I”: Quinn reads so well for a four-year-old my mom suggested recently that maybe he might like learning another language. I asked him what he thought, if he’d like to learn Spanish or French or German…. He didn’t show any interest until I told him there were also some old languages. We talked about those for a minute and he decided on Latin. I have no idea what he thinks it will mean to learn Latin or why that’s what he chose, but we went online and looked up Latin books for kids and the one he wanted was Latin Is Fun Book I. He was excited that there was also a Latin Is Fun Book II available. We both wondered at what point Latin ceases to be fun.
Today I am just grateful that we will find out together.
(Happy Quinn, flopped in my lap before we even left the hospital room. Does that look like a kid who should be taking bed space from sick children? I didn’t think so either. What a day.)