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I’m going to talk about something very personal for a few minutes.

My son, Wodan, is two years old, and he has the best laugh I’ve ever heard.

One week ago, I sincerely believed I might never hear it again.

On Tuesday morning, I got up and got my step-daughters ready for school. I made them breakfast, packed their lunches, combed their hair. Standard morning. My wife was attempting to go to sleep, having worked her usual night shift. Wodan was asleep in bed, and I made every effort to avoid waking him before I took his sisters to school.

After dropping the girls off and returning home, I settled in for breakfast and a movie (since my Tuesday work shifts start at noon), and was mildly surprised that Wodan wasn’t awake to join me yet. That said, it’s not out of character for him to occasionally sleep in, and since it was allowing V to sleep more, I let him snooze. I checked his breathing periodically (because yay, parental paranoia!) and went about having some time to myself.

Now by the time I was making dinner to take with me to work, he had been asleep for almost three hours longer than usual.

That was when he screamed.

Now, he’s normally pretty fussy when he wakes up. Little dude loves to have breakfast pretty much immediately in the mornings, and gets hangry when he doesn’t. This was different, though. I didn’t get an inquisitive “Daddy?” I didn’t hear him toddling out into the hallway, shouting for Pop Tarts. I set my food down and went to check on him, and he was still in bed. He looked listless and vacant, and wobbled when I tried to stand him up on his bedroom floor. He acted like he was having trouble hearing or seeing me, and barely tried to drink any of the water I offered him from his favorite cup. I held him, talked to him, told him I was right there. He didn’t respond.

I woke V. Something didn’t feel right. I carried him in to see her, and he didn’t react to her presence at all. His eyes were dilated, and weren’t tracking movement. I mused that he seemed like he was still asleep, but with his eyes open. He couldn’t hold himself up, even in a sitting position. V told me to get him dressed while she called the doctor. The next few minutes were a scramble of us racing to get ready to take him to the nearest Urgent Care, at the behest of his pediatrician. I called work to say I wasn’t coming in. We loaded Wodan into the car.

At Urgent Care, it started to become clear that he was having some sort of seizure. His entire upper body started to curl inward. The folks at Urgent Care quickly realized that we needed more than they could provide, and we headed directly to the Emergency Room at the Children’s Hospital on the other side of town. By the time we arrived there, he was still seizing, and I was certain that his scream for help that morning was going to be the last sound I ever heard him make. I was fucking terrified.

The staff at Urgent Care had called ahead, so Children’s knew we were coming. The team there swarmed to our aid, and I cannot express how grateful I am to every nurse, doctor, tech, etc. who was there that morning. Wodan was given meds to bring him out of the seizure. He came back to consciousness after an IV injection to bring his blood sugar levels back up, but he was utterly exhausted.

Lots of blood draws and various exams and a viewing of Coco later, we were taken for a CT scan to try to get a better idea of what had happened. Did his low blood sugar levels cause the seizure, or did his sugar levels drop because he had been seizing for so long? No one was really certain, but we knew we were in for at least one night at the hospital.

After the results of the CT scan showed a small anomaly, Wodan was scheduled for an overnight EEG and an MRI the next morning. Glucose checks every three hours. V talked to the girls’ father and arranged for him to watch them, even though it was our week. I made plans to be away from work for the next day or two, since V doesn’t have paid leave, and geared up to stay overnight.

I barely slept. I kept thinking about how close a call we’d had, nervous about hearing the EEG results, wondering how long the MRI would take. In the morning, V got back from work, and bringing all of the things we’d need to get through the next couple of days in the PICU. Since the EEG was done, he got to take off his “space hat” and get a little break where V and I could take turns holding him and sitting in the chair with him. He was still fasting, as they needed to sedate him for the MRI. After his MRI and waking up from sedation, he finally got to eat again. Then it was back to our room to await results of the EEG and the MRI. V’s parents came to visit, bringing a couple of books and a new toy to occupy Wodan, and I took a brief break from hospital duty to have an hour back at our house before coming back for another overnight.

Wednesday night was decidedly easier. The neurologist came by that evening to let us know that the EEG and MRI both came back clear, and that the anomaly spotted by the CT scan was an artifact, an imaging error. Cue the literal sighs of relief. That said, the neurologist does want us to follow up in a month just to verify that things are still good. But it was an evening filled with cake shows on Netflix and snuggling with Wodan to help him get through the blood draws. They put him back on IV and had him fast overnight again so that they could run some additional blood work the next morning, and they would need to keep him a third night for more tests after taking him off of the IV and ensuring that he could regulate his glucose without it.

Thursday was mostly uneventful. We had breakfast, watched Despicable Me 3, and generally had a hang-out day while they ran blood work. That evening, after V had gone home to rest before work, my parents came by to check in on us. It was a relaxing day. They took Wodan off of the IV again, and so he had a little more freedom. He was able to sit on the floor to play with his grandfather, and was overall much happier than he had been since Tuesday. He was still upset that he couldn’t go sit on the couch on the other side of the room, due to his heart rate monitor.

Friday was the day of truth. His glucose levels had remained stable after a 12-hour fast. All of his tests had come back clean. We still had no real answer for what had caused the seizure on Tuesday, but we’d eliminated several possibilities. We were given training with a glucometer so that we could continue to check his blood sugar levels at home. After a lunchtime visit from my parents and several visits from doctors, nurses, and other staff, we were cleared to head home, with a stop at the pharmacy for an emergency recovery medicine just in case it happens again.

So, yeah. That was my week last week. It was stressful, to say the least. Honestly, it was my single most harrowing experience as a parent (so far). That said, it’s been a week since the initial event, and Wodan’s doing just fine. He’s happy, and acting like none of it ever happened (with the exception of a few more days of morning glucose checks). He’s content to be back at home with his sisters and cats and the rest of his toys, and his bed where he doesn’t have to be plugged in to a heart monitor while he sleeps.

Thank you to all of you who expressed your concerns for him, for all the kind words, and all of the love. Thanks to the truly incredible staff at the Urgent Care and Children’s Hospital for helping one very scared dad (and his equally scared toddler) through the whole process.

And thank you, Wodan, for laughing this morning. I love you, little bear.

 

4 Comments

  1. I can’t even imagine what you all went through. Thank Heavens your child came through it all as he did. Best of luck in the days and weeks to come.

    • Thank you, Tom. I very much appreciate it.

      • Not sure what exactly I can do to help you folks out but, if there is anything you need that I can help with, please let me know and it will be done.

  2. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience, Philip. Glad your “little bear” Wodan is better. What a challenge for you all.


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