A few nights ago my heart hurt in a way that it has never hurt before. I held Connor in my arms and didn’t know what to do, as he experienced a high fever spike that sent his little body into a seizure. In those endless moments I felt scared, lost, confused and overwhelmingly sad. I was so uninformed about febrile seizures, that in the moment, I actually thought Connor was dying. While on the phone with 911 I panicked and told them they needed to get here fast, because I had no idea what kind of damage was taking place, or when it was going to end and what that ending was going to look like.
Now that Connor has recovered, and my mind has cleared a little bit, I thought it would be worth sharing some facts about simple febrile seizures. If you are like me and have never witnessed a seizure, hopefully this will help you feel prepared if you're ever faced with one.
- Most febrile seizures occur in children whose age is between 6 months to 5 years. Additionally, some children inherit a tendency to have seizures with a fever.
- There are two types of febrile seizures: simple and complex. A simple febrile seizure lasts less than 15 minutes, does not recur within 24 hours and is not specific to one part of the body. A complex febrile seizure lasts longer than 15 minutes, occurs more than once within 24 hours or is confined to one side of the body.
- In our case, Connor experienced a simple febrile seizure and it occurred almost immediately after a sudden spike in temperature. The symptoms included a fever higher than 103 F and shaking of arms and legs. The seizure was his brain's reaction to fever and his body's effort to cool him down. Usually the fevers that trigger febrile seizures are caused by a viral infection, and once at the hospital we found out that Connor had an ear infection.
- During the seizure the goal is to keep the child safe, lay them on the floor on their side, away from other objects, and stay calm. I was terrified while it was happening, but fortunately the 911 responder was able to provide this guidance to me.
- Most febrile seizures produce no lasting effects, and simple febrile seizures don't cause brain damage or represent a more serious disorder. Nonetheless, it is recommended that a child see a doctor as soon as possible after the seizure. In our case, 911 discharged an ambulance and we went to the emergency room right away.
As a mother this experience created a painful mix of emotions that I am sure will take time to overcome. Watching a child suffer, creates a heavy heart, and even though I know Connor is ok right now, he is top-of-mind, distracting me from everything else.