9th September 2013 Helen 9Comment
6am knitting in Temple Street

Late last year, I was doing my normal bits and pieces on a fairly average ‘mummy day’. Two kids in tow, it was the usual mix of bad singing (me) and shouted requests for Postman Pat from the back seat (them) as we headed to the supermarket. I expected to spend the next while trying to steer a trolley with one child in the seat and the other actually IN the trolley while trying to ram groceries in there.  But that day I didn’t get to rant about why Aldi really need to have more than one two-seater trolley per store (and they really do), but instead I got to loose just a little of my parenting swagger as our morning took a horrible turn.

It’s easy to cut the next part of the story short as remembering it still gives me goose pimples. Simply: I pull into a parking spot, I hear what I can only describe as a ‘funny’ noise from my then 18month old. She was still in a rear-facing seat but I could see her arms making funny jerking movements. I was calling her name but she wasn’t answering.  I get to her she was slumped, chin to chest, with a rigid jaw and her little arms twitching. Her mouth was frothing and she was a horrible pale white – blue. Her big brother, in the seat beside her, just sat in complete silence (in hindsight this should have given me the biggest fright!) and stared.

I keep remembering how stupidly I stood there. In fairness it was probably for all of a nano second, but I can remember actually wondering why on earth she was doing this – like in a ‘why would she play this game’ kinda way. Then I scooped her and – stupid part no. 2, I actually froze. I was standing there, this little twitching, frothing baby in my arms and all I’m thinking is ‘what now?’ Lifting her had done nothing so what do I actually do now? It’s not like I can actually start shouting – I mean these people are doing their shopping?

At that point I just opened my mouth and screamed. I honestly stood there shouting and screaming and before I knew it there were about four men helping. And, my brain at last kicked in.

The questions….

Was she choking? No BUT there were raisins given at some point on the Malahide Road to buy me some peace and quiet, so maybe…

Was she sick? Not when we left the house ten minutes ago.

Is there any chance her brother gave her something? Yep.

Can someone ring an ambulance? Can we just make this stop?

I have absolutely no concept of time from that point on.  We kept my wee fella in his seat and tried not to let him see his little baby sister lying sideways on the manky grass verge while we waited for the ambulance.  (I thought we’d succeeded until about a week later when he asked me, plain as day, why I let the man put his sister on the ground. Sob!). On the advice of the ambulance dispatcher who stayed on the phone throughout, we laid her on her belly on one man’s arm while he rubbed her back and I kept scooping at her mouth to make sure she didn’t swallow her tongue.   Eventually the twitching stopped, and the very kind man rubbing her little hands told me they weren’t blue anymore. Right you are.  I hadn’t actually realised they had been.

And she started crying.  Surrounded by all these strange faces, she didn’t go mad like she normally would have but all she wanted was her mama.  And that felt good.

Everything went from free-frame slowness to manic fast-forward.  Someone lifted my son from his car seat to the ambulance where he was promised a rocket seat! A lovely man who’d helped us so much (while leaving his elderly Dad in the car) got my daughter over to the ambulance while I tried to gather our bits and pieces.  Hilariously, I managed to leave my phone, bag and the teddies behind (what had I actually brought?) – all of which were rescued by someone else.  A complete stranger locked the car and checked with the security guard that it was ok to leave it there.

We went from kind strangers to amazing professionals.  While putting the baby on oxygen, the ambulance man entertained my son with all sorts of stories and still managed to find me a tissue when the inevitable tears flowed.  In Temple Street we were in safe hands.  We were seen without delay and my little one received the best care you could ask for.

The happy ending is she was fine. A sleep and about four yoghurts later she was sent home with a diagnosis of a viral dose that caused a spike in temperature that triggered a febrile convulsion.

And so we entered the world of these bloody convulsions.

Feckin karma.  I was this kid.  From sometime after my first birthday until about 5, I equally scared the bejaysus out of my parents by taking these dramatic – but thankfully harmless, episodes.  What a thing for my little monkey to have fished out of the family gene pool!

By now we have had four of these in nine months.  Just a few weeks after her first, she had another. Of course, this time my poor husband was on his own with both kids so he had the horror of two kids and an ambulance journey to hospital.  Then we had a good six months with nothing.  Everytime she got a litle cold we expected something but thankfully it never developed.  Then out of the blue – and in the middle of the night, we heard that same little moaning sound she always makes when the fit is over and she’s coming around. Crikey. In her room, on her own, just two years old.  The most recent one happened in the crèche when, walking with her teacher, she keeled over and had one.  Again, she’d been fine all day and the only warning sign was that she stopped chatting about two minutes beforehand, then gone, flat on her back and fitting.

Thankfully,although still scary, we’re getting better at managing these horrible little events.  We’ve been able to agree a protocol with the GP so most times she can avoid hospital and just head to their surgery.  Amazingly, every time these have happened, she’s not had a temperature as the fit begins – it comes just after.  It seems (just like her mama), our little girl’s first sign of sickness isn’t pulling at her ear, or vomiting, or fussing – it’s these convulsions. She gets them before a temperature ever even develops – fun times!

Its anyone’s guess when they will stop.  We take great heart when she gets sick without having one but have had that rug pulled out from under us a few times so we don’t get outr hope us. The sad thing is that as she’s getting older she knows what’s happening and she really doesn’t like it.

We have little to complain about though and fingers crossed I’ll look back and read this post in about two years and think, Oh Yeah! She never did have another one of those.  Now, that would be nice.

As always the web is full of great and daunting information sources.  Here’s a reliable one on the topic…


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9 thoughts on “Bad Inheritance: My Little Girl and her Febrile Convulsions

  1. Oh, that is utterly terrifying, the poor mite, and you poor, poor things to be living with that. Oh, that just frightened the life out of me 🙁 x

  2. Thanks Emily. We’ve gotten great support inTemple St and with our GPs so we’ve been able to learn as much as possible about managing them so that makes it easier. What I wouldn’t give though to think we were done with this chapter of toddler raising though! X

  3. Oh, how terrifying. How awful for you, I can’t begin to imagine the horror of that first time. And what wonderful strangers who helped. I hope she grows out of it soon soon soon.

    1. Well Maud dear I can say the first time was the worst and, while you don’t get used to them, you certainly feel less freaked out and able to think!! Lets agree though, I’ve had my share of these and will now just have normal toddler melodrama and madness please!!! X

  4. That must have been terrifying, you poor thing. How lovely to have had such help from strangers, people are great in a crisis aren’t they. I hope you get your wish about looking back on this post in a few years and realising she hasn’t had them since…

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