Febrile Seizures: A Reminder of God’s Grace

March 17, 2016

While on a surprise trip with my 20 month old son and husband for a weekend trip to Memphis, I got the shock of my life. If you have a child, you already know that when they are sick it’s so sad. To watch them battle fever, cold or flu is hard but there is light at the end of the tunnel that they will EVENTUALLY get better. A couple weeks ago,  my son had a seizure and I can say it was a different kind of heartbreak that I have never experienced and hope to never have again.

Our day started out hectic, eventful with excitement in the air. We were busy packing our bags for a 4 day trip to Memphis, TN. I love to travel and so far the three of us have been in 12 states together. My son was active singing, dancing and playing and there was really nothing amiss about the day. As we were leaving our town, I realized I had forgotten to pack a thermometer and children’s Tylenol. I’ve always packed these on our other trips just in case, and although we had passed numerous grocery stores and Walmart stores as we traveled to the Mid-South, it did not occur to me to buy those items. I figured I would just deal with it when we got to Memphis.

About an hour into our trip, I noticed my son was in and out of sleep and very quite. He is typically a chatty kid who talks ALL the time and has a pretty decent vocabulary. He would answer questions  with one word answers in a very quiet voice so I should’ve known that he wasn’t feeling well. We played some Sesame Street tunes but he just looked out the window dazed and fell asleep again. When we made our first stop about 3 hour into our trip, we noticed he felt warm. We figured he had a fever so we made sure to take off his jacket and socks in hopes that he would feel a little cooler. He also didn’t have a lot to eat. He had 8 oz of milk an apple sauce pouch, a couple of peanut butter crackers and a few fries. He was very clingy and didn’t care much about looking at his new surroundings when we were out of the car.

By the time we did pull into Memphis, my husband and I both knew something was wrong. We both assumed it was just a bad fever and got him down to his diaper. We laid him on the bed and he just watched TV and didn’t stir.

Eventually my husband went out to get pizza and we decided to give our son a bath to cool him off from his fever. This is when things went from bad to worse.

As I ran his bath water, his little hands clung onto me. He usually likes baths but as I soon as I put him in the lukewarm water he began to cry and his legs shook. He was having a hard time standing and held onto he edge of the tub for support. I asked him what was wrong and he replied, “bath”.

I asked him to sit down and he tried but he was having trouble holding up his own body weight and just cried. I quickly rubbed him with a washcloth and took him out of the bath. As I dried him off, I asked him to stand up. He tried but fell on me holding out his arm. I told him I needed to put his diaper on.

At this time, his body went limp, his eyes were open and he was breathing heavily and drooling. I knew at that moment he was having a seizure. I have never witnessed a seizure, especially in a small child and I was unsure of what to do.

I was pacing the floor, frantically as my child was gasping for air. I remember thinking, what do I do? Will he be okay? Is he epileptic? Is he going to die? If he survives this, will he be okay mentally? The brain can go to strange places in a state of panic. I wrapped my baby in a towel and ran to lobby and asked them to call 911 because my son was having a seizure.

I can’t tell you how long it lasted for because in that moment it felt like an eternity. I also called my husband, who had just arrived at the pizza place, and told him our baby had a seizure and to come back to the hotel.

I prayed over my little boy and asked God to protect him. I also prayed in tongues -quietly and tearfully- hoping to not scare the other hotel guests. The Bible says the Holy Spirit works in our utterance and I truly believe it.

Eventually the ambulance came, and shortly after my husband arrived. The paramedics took our son’s vitals and asked me what had happened. They asked me several times if Isaiah had gotten into any medication. I answered all of their questions whimpering and brokenhearted, doing my best to keep my composure.

They explained to me that  our son had a febrile seizure, which is a seizure due to a drastic change in temperature. Even though his temperature was only up to 101.9, which is high but typically not considered a dangerous level, the lukewarm bath had raised his internal temperature quickly enough to kick off the seizure. (My husband and I actually learned later at the hospital that giving your child a cool or lukewarm bath – when not coupled with medicine- can actually raise their internal temperature instead of lower it).

After our first ride in an ambulance, we reached a local children’s hospital in the area. They attended to our boy quickly and gave us more information on febrile seizures. Febrile seizures do not mean our child is epileptic, will end up with brain damage, or have any other permanent issues.  He may not even have another seizure ever again, though they are a possibility, and he will likely grow out of them by the time he is 6. After children’s ibuprofen, an IV, some tests and 2 and a half hours, we were cleared to return back to the hotel.

When we got back to our hotel room about midnight, my mind was racing with visions of my child and his seizures. He went to sleep easily and we did the same. I woke up at 3 am distraught and crying because I had a dream that our toddler was having another seizure. I didn’t know what to do. I was sobbing, struggling to breath, and filled with fear that it was happening again. My husband and I talked about it and came to the conclusion that our best option was to trust the Lord with our son. I’ve learned to trust the Lord before in my parenting journey, but this was a new situation for me. I was plagued with guilt over the choices I’d made, forgetting his medicine and thermometer, not realizing how ill he really was, and giving him the bath.

By the next day, I was reminded of Psalm 94:19. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer (NLT).  I had a decision to make I was either going to wallow in doubt in self pity or trust my creator that when I make mistakes as a parent, he is right along with me.

So you may be asking what is the moral of this story. To always give your child medicine when they have a fever? Wrong! It’s that the Lord is always faithful even in our shortcomings. And there were good things that came out of this and I can see God’s protection in this situation. I have NEVER been so glad to see my boy bouncing off the walls. Even in moments of exhaustion and mothering frustration, I still remember that frightening time when I thought I might not have my little boy with me anymore and I cherish him more to this day. We also happened to upgrade to the Rolls Royce of insurance a few weeks earlier and didn’t have to worry about the cost of medical care. I’ve learned from this experience and others in my life that God is overflowing with grace.

I share this story to encourage and help someone else. If I had known about febrile seizures, I don’t know if I would’ve done anything differently in this situation except maybe getting some fever medicine instead of harping on the fact I’d forgotten it.

Have you ever been in a situation where in the midst of a heartbreaking time the Lord proved his faithfulness? I’d love to hear about it so please post below. Let’s encourage one another!