My little girl almost gave me a heart attack the other day. Again.
Back in March this year when she was 18 months old, she had a choking incident and I thought I was going to lose her. This past Monday, she made me feel the same way again.
Bunny was fine all day long. I had been checking her temperature throughout the day because Okra had a cold so whenever I checked his temperature, I checked hers as well. She was acting normal. I situated the two of them at the dinner table, went to get my dinner, and sat down across from Bunny to start eating. Not even a minute into our dinner, she suddenly froze in action and the coloring of her face started fading. My first thought was, Oh No Not Again…!! She was staring straight and appeared to be choking on something. I quickly unbuckled her and got her off her high chair. I tried to do a mini Heimlech maneuver but nothing came out. Her body felt extra heavy and limp. She appeared weak. I called 911 while calling my mom to come see her. I tried to look inside her mouth and tried to sweep her oral cavity with my finger. I couldn’t see inside her mouth. Bunny was clenching her teeth and my finger was bitten hard by her. In the chaos, my mom went and got a spoon to open up her mouth, the 911 operator was talking to me asking me questions while she was on speaker phone, and we were yelling out Bunny’s name to see if she was responsive. Even though this had already happened once, I was not any calmer than the last time. When all these things happened at the same time and when I was looking at Bunny’s blue face, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was really going to lose her this time.
Somehow my mom got Bunny to cough out the piece of Hawaiian sweet roll that she was eating. Bunny started to whimper. When I heard her whimpering, I felt a lot better. The 911 operator asked if she was breathing. I didn’t even check that. I felt her nose and chest and she was breathing. Her coloring was looking more normal at the time. However, she was still weak in my arms and didn’t respond much to us. I asked her to call me “mama” which she did, weakly. I still felt that something was wrong with her. The last time when she choked and the food came out, she perked back up more easily. This time it felt like she was still in shock. My mom was holding her while I paced back and forth to the window to see if help had arrived. Each second that passed felt like an eternity. Seven minutes after I dialed 911, vehicles with flashing lights rushed to our house. A police woman arrived first. She made sure that Bunny was no longer choking. Firefighters came. Paramedics came. Bunny’s vitals checked out fine. However, everyone there agreed with me that Bunny’s presentation was a bit off. One of the firefighters said that usually kids who have just choked recover quite quickly and look like their normal self again quickly. However, Bunny looked dazed in my arms. Her head was favoring the left side. They tried to perk her up by poking her heel with a needle. Bunny didn’t even flinch. Unfortunately that wasn’t the best way to check her responses because she is somebody who doesn’t even cry or move when she is given a shot or poked with a needle at blood draws. Eventually I put her down on the floor and walked away from her to see if she responded to that. That moment was the first cry we all heard since the choking episode. I walked even farther away and she came running and crying for me to hold her. Everyone was a lot more relieved at that moment. However, I still felt that something was off with her. She just didn’t look right to me. Her neck turned more to the left and she was hunching her shoulder when she was walking. Her posture and gait were off. Because of her presentation that didn’t appear to be her typical self, the firefighters and paramedics agreed with me that we should take her to the emergency room to check her out. Since the last incident, I had some time to think about which hospital I’d take the kids to in case of an emergency. I decided that we’d go to U.CSF Children’s. It is only 12 minutes away from home (vs. 20 minutes from the ER that we took her to last time), and it only serves children so I was hoping we didn’t have to wait another two hours this time before we get seen. I also opted for the ambulance to take us.
I quickly called Bob and updated him with the information. He was so alarmed by my phone call because I never call him unless there is an emergency. Bunny was strapped on the gurney and wheeled onto the ambulance. I am so proud of my little girl because she remained calm during this time. I sat next to her on the ambulance. The paramedics checked her vitals and her temperature under arms. She had a temperature of 102, which seemed like it was coming from nowhere. Remember I checked her temperature throughout the day? I was so surprised to learn of her fever. We got to the emergency room and were taken to an exam room right away.
Bunny acted a lot more normal than at home by the time we were at the ER. Rectal temperature measured at 103. We were seen by a bunch of nurses and two doctors. The first doctor must have been a resident. After listening to the details of what went down, she said that it sounded like Bunny had a febrile seizure, which “is a convulsion in a child caused by a spike in body temperature, often from an infection”, according to the internet. She said that because her choking was most likely due to the muscles spasming in her body. Kids who have febrile seizures outgrow them by 5. Many kids have had it once only in their lives.
It is interesting that she mentioned about febrile seizure. During Bunny’s first choking incident back in March, I thought that she had a febrile seizure then realized that she was choking. Now that the doctor mentioned about a possible febrile seizure, I can’t help but wonder if her first choking incident was also caused by a febrile seizure because of her tight fists and similar presentation. Anyhow, after Bunny was given Mot.rin to reduce her fever, we lay there on the hospital bed and were watching Curious George on TV. She was asking for food and water, which to me was a great sign that she was becoming normal again. It was at that time that my right index finger started hurting. It was red and bruised. I then realized that it must have been injured by Bunny when I put it in her mouth. The finger took 5 days to stop hurting.
Bob arrived at the ER so the three of us were together. He reported that Okra who was fussy all day was actually very good at home. My mom sent me a text saying that she had put Okra in bed already. I often feel so fortunate to have my mom around.
Another senior doctor came in to speak with us and to make sure that all of our questions were answered. She once again said that she suspected febrile seizure. We discussed what to do next time. She said not to put anything in Bunny’s mouth if she had a febrile seizure even if she was clenching her teeth. But my question is, what if she was choking again? Wouldn’t you want to make sure that she has a way to clear her windpipe? (I later on spoke to our pediatrician who supported the idea of keeping her mouth open if it happens to be a choking episode.) If she isn’t eating, lay her down on her side to make sure she is comfortable and wait for the convulsion to pass. Febrile seizure definitely looks scary, but it has no harmful long term effects to her health according to the doctor.
Bunny’s temperature was measured again later at 100.7. she was given Ty.lenol and we were sent home. We were there for about two hours.
That night she stayed in our room with us. We wanted to monitor her temperature. The funny thing is she woke up at 4am and started singing Joy to the world, Jingle Bells, and Jesus loves me loudly. She had a fever on and off for a few days. Now she is on the mend.
I remember when she choked last time, I told Bob later that I never wanted to see her blue face again. And I ended my blog post with the same words. And yet this happened again. I sometimes close my eyes and can see her face. It took me a few days to finally cry one night because I finally felt how scared I was. I feel fortunate that I was sitting right across from Bunny so I caught the first sign of the choking/febrile seizure. I kept thinking what if I wasn’t home or wasn’t sitting there at the moment. I really hope that I won’t ever see Bunny’s blue face ever again. For real this time.