04 October 2011

perspective & a lesson

04 October 2011
The Little Miss had been sick for most of the past week.

Cough, colds, fever, vomiting, loss of appetite.
The whole flu package. 

She's back to her happy and healthy self now.

Thank God!

I cannot help but be paranoid every time she came down with something.

Especially when it has to do with fever.  

It evokes the familiar smell of fear, panic and other things unimaginable. 
And for good reason.

26 December 2010. 
11:00 PM. 

Wichita, Kansas.
It was the day after Christmas.  
Toddler girl was 13 months old then. We were on a prolonged vacation in my sister's home. Daddy had already gone back to Singapore. My sister was in the master's bedroom while her twins were fast asleep in theirs. The BIL was out for errands. 
It started after our bedtime routine. Little girl felt warm to touch and started getting cranky. The thermometer read 37.8 C (100 F) - mildly febrile. She wanted to be held, nursed and had bouts of screaming and crying. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. She neither had cough, colds, loose stools nor any obvious source of infection. For good measure, I gave her a dose of Paracetamol and did tepid sponging. She finally fell asleep in my arms.
Then it happened. She stirred in her sleep, looked me in the eye and fell limp. In my arms.  Her eyes rolled upwards and to the back of her head. Her arms and legs were flailing, convulsion taking over her body. Drool and froth poured out her dusky lips. 
She had a seizure. A febrile seizure.
As a PD, I knew she was not in any real danger at that time. I had attended to countless cases and counselled parents in the past. I know the drill by heart. Stay calm. Ensure child is in a safe place. Lay her on her side. Watch for signs of breathing difficulty. Keep track of how long the seizure lasts.
The episode lasted only 2 minutes. But it seemed like eternity.  
I struggled to stay calm. But, fear and panic ran through the core of my motherly being. 
Meanwhile, my sister had already called 911. My little girl had already come around when the paramedics came. Again for good measure, we went to the nearest emergency hospital. 
It was almost midnight. We braved the harsh Wichita winter. 
At the ER, she was subjected to invasive tests to look for possible sources of infection that could have caused the fever. All results were normal. 
Prior to the normal results were multiple attempts at poking. They had to call their "best" phlebotomist, who also attempted twice before getting enough blood samples. All this while, my baby was clinging to me, screaming for them to stop poking. I wanted to do the procedure myself to get it over and done with! And if I could give my own blood sample, I would! It was painful to watch my own child subjected to various invasive procedures. The very things I had subjected my patients to in the past!
I found myself on the patient side of the doctor-patient continuum. Everything felt and looked different from that vantage point. I saw things in a whole new perspective.

It has taken me a while to fully process the events that transpired that day. I keep trying to write down the details, but I couldn't...until now. This ordeal has shaken us to the core. The fact that we were in foreign country and Daddy was not around made the situation worse than it already was. I have my sister to thank for seeing us through it all. It's been months since the incident but I am still holding on to raw and scared feelings from the experience. Daddy calls it our jolt from heaven. 

What we've gone through is nothing compared to the suffering that other kids and families have. But it's not about who has it light, who has it easy or who has it worse. 

Everyone fights their own battles everyday.  

In the end, it all comes down to compassion...To showing a special kindness to those who suffer; to try to alleviate their suffering as if they were one's own.