Traumatic Day

Let me start off by saying that Abigail is fine. She’s downstairs with her Mom right now, watching an Elmo video.

Today was a rough day. It was the kind of day with the traumatic stress you have trouble getting post.  What I saw and felt today will haunt me. I’m not saying that I’m just like a combat veteran or something. Just that I know where that comes from.

Because I will never be able to forget the sight of Abigail having a seizure. When I close my eyes, I will see hers rolling vacant in her head. When I look at my phone, I’ll see that hourglass “wait” symbol that came up when I pushed the button to dial 911. I never forget the choking sound she made while I held her to my chest, to my spit-damp shirt. At the same time, I can’t remember the sound at all. It was just the sound of hell, the sound of not being able to tell if my daughter was breathing or not.

When I got back from the hospital, I saw the baby monitor on my desk, still rasping and clicking where I’d left it. Even though Abigail was safe, resting with Jessica downstairs, I started to shake, just a little.

The bad images aren’t the only ones that will stay with me. I was with her when it happened. She wasn’t alone. I could hold her tight and let her know that I was taking care of her.  I’ll also remember the EMTs, reassuring me that the reactions they were getting were exactly what they were looking for. I will remember Abigail commenting on the cars out of the back of the ambulance and the way she said “hi” and “thank you” to the nurses. And I will remember the way she took her baby doll’s temperature after we took hers. (Fivety-three eight, for those who are curious, according to Dr. Abigail.)

Abigail has had a fever this week and apparently when they spike, you can get a febrile seizure. A sudden rise in temperature – like when she’s waking up out of a nap, as she was – can cause her system to short circuit.

The normality of the situation makes me feel better. The fact that her blood tests were all normal makes me feel better. And that I had an ambulance at our house less than 10 minutes after the seizure started reminds me that I had this well in hand. I will remember that her grandparents abandoned their cart at Costco to rush to the hospital and that it was still waiting for them in the middle of the aisle when they got back. I will remember holding her in my arms in the ER, band-aid on her finger where they’d measured her blood sugar and sensor strapped to her toe, measuring her vitals, when she sat up and announced that she was “all done.”

But while it was happening, I had none of those reassurances. The need to take action was a thin sheet holding back the landslide of panic. I called 911, but a huge part of me wanted to run out into the street screaming for help. I answered the questions of the person on the other end of the line, clearly enunciating my address and phone number, when I really wanted to scream at them to make her okay.

And she is okay. Really. We had to keep her from doing too much running around. She was laughing with me only a few minutes ago, giddy at the word, “Kiddo.”

I didn’t break down until after Jessica got there, safe and sound despite what I’m sure was a panicked drive back from San Diego. I held it together for Abigail until I could let go, and then let it go I did, like a baby.

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One Response to Traumatic Day

  1. Jessica says:

    Giant hug. Wow. So scary. My mother will talk about when my little sister had one and her description echos yours. It’s hard to believe that there is a normality to this type of reaction and that she was back to being doctor Abigail so quickly. I’m so sorry that this happened but I am so happy that you were super dad and everything is okay.

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