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Febrile seizure

23 February 2007

Tonight at supper Lucas almost died - at least, that's what I thought when I lifted his head from the table, half expecting him to have fallen asleep at the table. But his head immediately fell back onto my hand - no response whatsoever. His eyes where wide open, or to say it as Stanley Kubrick did: "Eyes wide shut - seeing nothing but staring nonetheless...". I lifted Lucas up from his Tripp-Trapp, his body gone totally limp. Talking to him got no response, only his eyes staring back at me. He didn't breathe, didn't react to stimuli at all, just slowly fading away. "He's dying", I thought, Marjolijn grabbed him as I dialled 112 - the emergency number, telling the operator that I had a non-responsive 20 month old child and what to do.


In the meantime Lucas was starting to shake, almost like in a grand mal seizure, he still didn't breathe, or only very shallow, and he had started to foam around the mouth. Marjolijn kept talking to him, telling him to stay with us, not to go away and trying to get in touch with him. But he was utterly unresponsive, his eyes were staring at something beyond this world, seeing only things we couldn't see. As the 112 operator asked me questions on the state of Lucas, Marjolijn walked to the kitchen and splashed a handful of cold water in his face. On the way his eyes rolled around in their sockets, almost out of his head. But the water had its effect in that he responded to it, just slightly. The female 112 operator told me to take off all Lucas' clothes and to cool him down as good as we could, with luke-warm water, not cold, waiting for the emergency services to arrive. She also said that as we would be cooling his feverish, peaking body, the first sign that things were going better was that he would start crying. That would be the first reponse telling us that he would slowly be coming out of his febrile seizure.

And lo and behold, as Marjolijn sat down with his little warm body in the bathroom and started dabbing him with the luke-warm, wet towel I gave her, he slowly started to come around. Not in the sense like "hey, I'm back, look at me babbling along", no more like for the first time really responding to external stimuli and starting to cry, first small whining noises, then slowly building up to a real cry. He still wasn't really responding to our conversations with him, but at least he was colling down and letting us know that he was responsive again. Just after that the ambulance arrived with two really wonderful paramedics. They checked up Lucas in all possible manners, took his temperature and even went to get him a teddybear ;-). The lead paramedic looked after Lucas whilest the other talked to Casper and Robin. They were a little bewilderd about all that was going on, but didn't really "get it". They just thought it was very exciting with an ambulance outside our house and the two in flashy green and yellow jumpsuits clad paramedics in oru house with all their equipment. The chatter didn't stop as they sat on the couch where Lucas was being examined, but once in a while they would come and see how things was with him. So somewhere they understood that not all was well.

The paramedics concluded with that Lucas had had a febrile seizure, not really common among children, only 4% of young kiddos between the age of 1 and 6 get it, but once you've had it, it is possible that you will get it again (for the period up to the age of 6). The correlation to epilepsy is not very big, as a first febrile seizure only would lead to or be the first hint to epilepsy if this is common in the family. What the paramedics did say was that he should be checked up by the doctor, so they called the nightstaff at the doctorspost telling them what had happened and that we would be coming by. After having put some clothes on Lucas (his legs were shaking voilently as I was clothing him) the paramedics left for what later would be a busy night - we saw them raing by our house at least two more times that night before we went to bed. Thanx guys ;-)

We put Lucas in the car and left Casper and Robin with Meike, who was staying over - what a coincidence! On the way to the doctorspost Lucas was at least talking a bit and responding to his surroundings. Then he suddenly started throwing up. Lots of red stuff came out, lumps and all, and first I was terrified thinking it was blood. But then we realised it were all the red grapes he had eaten that afternoon that came out. Luckily for the interior of our car Marjolijn was able to salvage most in a large towel she had brought with her. It was rather scary though, so I hurried a little faster to get to the medic. Our "lady of the dashboard" flawlessly guided me through the maze that is Houten to reach the doctorspost within ten minutes of leaving from home. There I parked the car across two parkingspots, one reserved and the other for handicapped people - at that moment I couldn't really care ;-) I picked up Lucas and hurried into meet the medic. She was expecting us and brought me to an examining room immediately. A few minutes later Marjolijn came. She took Lucas and sat down to let him be examined by the doctor. She concluded the same as the paramedics had, but did some more checkups. All were negative, meaning it was positive as she couldn't find anything that was wrong with him. Most probably the febrile seizure occured due to a very sudden, steep increase in his body temperature, causing his brain to shut down temporarily to save itself, whilest firing of brainsynapses like crazy. During this seizure Lucas would feel no pain and be utterly unresponsive, but it would be a terribly shock to us the parents. There are no known sideeffects (except for severe musclecramps the morning after) or longterm problematic effects connected to a febrile seizure. We were advised though to give him Paracetamol every 8 hours, even bringing it back to every 6 hours for at least the next 48 hours. Waking him up once or twice a night would also be a good idea, and we should call the doctorspost immediately if there was anything that we didn't feel comfortable about his state. So we left quite reassured that it had been a terrible experience, but that Lucas was fine, except for him not feeling to well and looking a little pale. He kept pointing to the exit as he was examined, so I guess he was very aware of the faact that he would be examined and all, and only wanted to get out of there ;-) On the way out to the car he vomited his last bits of red grapes and some other stuff (slime etc.), but the doctor said it was fine and nothing to worry about. So all shook up but happy about the outcome, we left for home again, driving slowly and warily this time. On the way it started ever so slightly to rain, becoming a downpour before we came home.

Once we were home Meike was playing a game with Casper and Robin, which they immediately stopped with the moment Lucas came into the livingroom. They came straight to him and as I sat down with Lucas they kissed and hugged him as much as they could ;-) After this Lucas sat on the couch for a while, looking around and taking in his surroundings. He smiled and talked a bit, and about half an hour later we took him to bed. First I put him in our bed where he slowly fell asleep, shuddering for some time before falling into a deep, calm sleep. I guess the little man was utterly exhausted from his ordeal. We put his bed next to ours an d after a while I laid him down in his own bed toghether with his teddybears and giraffe! As I'm writing this he's still sound asleep and the other kiddos are also sleeping. What an evening - hopefully we'll never experience such a thing again. Unfortunately the doctor said that once a child has had a febrile seizure it is possible that he will get it more often, but it isn't necessary so. At least now we know what to expect and what to do. Anyways, if it were to happen again, he will have to be seen by a doctor immediately, as it could be an indication of something else, like epilepsy, but also of a nose, throat, ear or lung infection. So we now know what can happen and how it occurs, but by God I hope we don't have to go through this once more.

Updated 24 February 2007, by Sebastiaan Naafs - van Dijk

This morning Lucas was all whining and crying, not really knowing what he wanted but surely knowing what he didn't want - EVERYTHING. After a short shower we gave him another Paracetamol and some 10 minutes later he was quite happily sitting on Marjolijns lap, looking at the movie "the Jungle Book". Even being quite talkative. Right now he's sleeping again, as his little body is trying to recuparate from last nights ordeal. We are all as exhausted, mentally and physically, so I guess we're staying in today to try and recover from what has happened and lament our souls.

Updated 26 February 2007, by Sebastiaan Naafs - van Dijk

A very good friend of mine, Linn Maria, mailed me yesterday that she was plagued with febrile seizures ("feberkrampe" in Norwegian) when she was a child. It was all very frightening for her mother at the time. "But", as she concluded, "no harm done, look at me I turned out just fine!" That's for sure.

Thanx 2 all 4 the encouraging words, be it over the phone, via e-mail or otherwise communicated ;-)

Posted by Sebastiaan Naafs - van Dijk | top


  1. Pappa/Opa posted:

    en dat vertel je me nou is een telefoon hier in huis....geef de knuffel een dikke kus van Opa hoor...wat een schrik....voor jullie allemaal...fijn dat ie nou slaapt, sterkte hoor..

    ... on 25 February 2007 @ 20:05

  2. Pappa/Opa posted:

    Hoop dat de kleine rakker wat beter is vandaag....triest hoor, lief manneke...geef hem een dikke knuffel van Opa

    ... on 26 February 2007 @ 08:29

  3. Jonathan posted:

    Damn. Hope that never ever happens again, freightning...

    ... on 26 February 2007 @ 11:47

  4. Pappa posted:

    Fijn dat Marjolijn effe belde, bedankt en sterkte hoor...

    ... on 26 February 2007 @ 18:13

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