Febrile Seizures: No Longer an Unknown

It was a Memorial Day like any other. We had plans with friends, barbecues to attend, and a significant amount of pool time on the schedule.  Sunday we had agreed to watch our niece and nephews for most of the day. Our oldest had been planning it all week we would have water balloon fights in the back yard, grill hot dogs, and have s’mores.  It was going to be a special day. 

Sunday arrived with our youngest waking up with a fever. She is just over a year old, and honestly the first few weeks of being one have been hard on her (think positive reaction to a vaccination), so we talked about it and assumed that this was just teeth. I gave my sister a heads up, but we all felt that since she had no other symptoms of concern we would carry on as planned. 

It really was a great day. We did all the things we had planned and had the best day. We continued to battle a low grade fever all day which is always concerning, but it would come down pretty quickly with treatment so I wasn’t overly worried. Bed time cam,e and our little lady was exhausted from all the playing she had done all day. We treated her fever again before bed, and off to dreamland she went. 

We do not have great sleepers (for those of you that do, I am envious), so when she awoke at midnight we were not shocked, but my husbands concerned tone asking me to come take her temperature did have me a little worried. Her fever had reached a height that was outside of my comfort zone. After contacting the after-hours nursing line, I was reassured that it was not dangerous, and to keep an eye on it. I, being the worrier that I am, opted to hold her while she slept to ensure that she got sleep and that I was close by if she needed me. 

That is when it happened. She became very restless and started making what sounded like choking noise, her whole body shook uncontrollably, and she would not respond. In the blink of an eye it was over and she went limp. 

Holding your limp child in your arms is a whole new level of helplessness. 

I immediately went into action, waking my husband, gathering her carrier, and getting out the door to the closest emergency room. We were in the emergency room being evaluated in less than 15 minutes. The hospital visit was a blur, but I left knowing that we had experienced our first febrile seizure

How did this happen, what caused it, and how do I ensure that it never happens again? 

We were informed that febrile seizures are not uncommon in young children.  Febrile seizures are caused by rapidly changing temperatures associated with a fever.  In our case our daughters temperature spiked from 102 to 105 very quickly causing her body to seize. We learned that 1 in 3 children that have experienced a febrile seizure will have another one within 1-2 years following their first seizure. Also those children that experience their first febrile seizure under the age of 15 months are at a higher risk of experiencing additional febrile seizures. Our doctor reassured us that fever management will be key for our family from now on. What does this mean? We will be those hyper-vigilant parents that if we even sense our child is a little warm will be treating the fever. Right or wrong, this will be our practice. No more are the days of letting her burn it off. 

Now that there is some time between me and the incident I am so very thankful that our little lady is happy and healthy. I am sure that if we do face another febrile seizure we will be just a frightened and worried, but there is power in knowledge and this is no longer the unknown for us. To those parents that have had a similar experience or are living with chronic seizure disorders I see you, and you are in my thoughts. 

Man why don’t they make these kids with instruction manuals?

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