Monday, January 30, 2012

Girl Scout

Simon has a cold -- just a runny nose, a cough, and an occasional low-grade fever, nothing serious. Nonetheless, I am worried. The last time he was sick was in October (we've been reeeealllly lucky -- either that or those vitamin C-echinacea-zinc-gummi-vites acually work...). He'd had a virus, and when his fever reached a little over 102 he had a status seizure that lasted on and off for the better part of five hours. While we were in the hospital after that episode, the doctors told us that a status seizure is possible whenever Simon becomes ill (because a fever lowers the seizure threshold even while otherwise controlled with medication), and we should be prepared for it.

At the time, all I could think was "How the hell do you prepare for something like that!?," but, sure enough, I've learned to. Currently, Simon's bedroom is fitted with what I think of as the "mini ER,"  -- a suction machine, an oxygen tank, and a pulse oximeter he wears to sleep at night. We also have emergency medicine on hand, and a plan in place which dictates that, should he go into status again, we will take him directly to our preferred hospital (the one with all his doctors), rather than call an ambulance and lose time by being circumvented to our closest hospital first.

Those are the big things, the important things, covered as well as we can. I'd recommend those protocols for anyone in our situation, along with an anti-suffocation pillow and (coming soon!) a seizure response dog. I am still constantly on the lookout to find more ways to keep Simon safe and avert future crisis, as any parent would.

Strangely, though, I find that it is the little things -- the tiny comforts I have stashed, that bring me the greatest sense of inner calm. In my handbag I now routinely keep my headphones and charger, a notebook and pen, instant coffee packets, and extra toiletries for days' at the hospital uninterrupted by sleep or showering. At night, if I am really worried, I put Simon into bed with me and I sleep in my sweats. Within easy reach I keep one of Simon's favorite blankets and more appropriate "street clothes" for myself (because it is amazing how much more confident you can feel when you are wearing a proper bra and have shoes on that match). I've even been considering keeping a bag packed like I did during the final weeks of pregnancy.

At first, I was puzzled by how important these relatively unimportant things felt to me, but over time I have come to an understanding with my oddball self. True to my control-freak nature, I like them because they are the only things I actually have control over. I can't prevent a seizure, but I can make sure I have my phone charged to communicate with doctors, friends, and family. I can't avoid a PICU stay, but I can have the means to wash my face and make a cup of coffee to stay awake throughout it. I can't take this awful thing away from Simon, but I can wrap him in his favorite blanket and play him his favorite songs to comfort him. I can't change what is, but maybe, if I am a good scout, I can be prepared in mind and body to do the right thing at the right moment and we'll get through it together.

girl scout badges - 2/365 by TrishSince1977
girl scout badges - 2/365, a photo by TrishSince1977 on Flickr.

No comments:

Post a Comment