Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Story #24 Is this my story to tell?

I always try to be very aware of whether or not I have the "right" to tell a story. There is one about Nicole that I have wanted to share but didn't want to take away from the fact that this happened to her...I just happened to be the mom. I can only tell what happened on my part - she was unconscious for most of it anyway.

Remember when the Olympics were in Sydney, Australia? I clearly remember those particular games. I remember that my parents were visiting. I remember that Bob was working a swing shift job and therefore gone in the evenings. And I remember that Nicole almost died.

I had just put the girls to bed. My parents had begun watching the games upstairs in the family room - so I went in and joined them. After about 2 minutes a thought came into my head, "Go down to bed." I thought this was very strange. It wasn't very late and I wasn't tired - but I definitely had a thought that I should go to bed. I ignored it. The thought came again, more intense than the first time, "GO TO BED." I turned to my parents and apologized. "I'm sorry, but I have to go to bed." I quickly went downstairs. First I peeked in Kristen's room...she was fast asleep. Then I peeked in Nicole's room - she wasn't there, but her bed had vomit on it. I went into the bathroom - she wasn't there. I looked in my room and saw her lying on my bed. "What are you doing, sweetheart?" I asked. She didn't respond. I could tell from the reflection of the hall light that her eyes were open. I walked in and turned on the light and discovered that Nicole's eyes were open but she was unresponsive. Strange noises were coming from her throat. I ran over and sat her up - pounded on her back - thinking she was choking - but got zero response. Her skin was grey and her lips were blue. I was terrified, but calm. I called to my parents. They helped me wrap her up and my Mom and I raced to the car.

I have never driven so fast. I flew down the hill - knowing that there would be green lights and absolutely no one to interfere with our drive to the hospital. I honked the horn at each intersection to warn people that I was coming through. At one point my Mom said, "Slow down!" But I knew I couldn't slow down and I knew we would get there alright.

I pulled in front of the emergency room doors, scooped Nicole out of my Mother's arms and raced inside. Right there in the hallway was a doctor and two nurses who were just going on a break. They saw me, came running over, and snatched Nicole up in their arms as we all raced back to a gurney.

They fired off questions:

"Has she had any medication?"
"Does she have access to anything poisonous?"
"Did she fall or hit her head?"

No. No. No.

"I read her stories, we said prayers, she went to bed. Everything was fine."

Her oxygen level was at 40%. She had aspirated on vomit. She was having a grand mal seizure. She was not regaining consciousness. I was so scared - and yet I felt the hand of the Lord with me the whole time. Why would the Lord prompt me to go downstairs, why were there only green lights and no traffic on such busy streets if she were not meant to live?

Her small little form was surrounded by medical personnel talking over one another and working on her all at once. They were able to clear her airway. Her oxygen levels were improving, but she was still unconscious.

They took her back for a CAT scan. Through the entire process she remained unresponsive. When the doctors determined that she was stable they loaded her into an ambulance to head to Primary Children's Hospital.

It had been over an hour and a half and she had not woken up. Even with strong faith, it is frightening to see your little one in such a position.

I climbed into the ambulance beside her. Bob and my Mom were going to drive separately. The ambulance was surprisingly quiet. The paramedic who sat along side me gave me a sad, awkward smile. For some reason, that was the moment that my eyes finally filled with tears. And that was the moment a little voice said, "Momma, where am I?"

Never was there a more glorious sound in the world. I explained to her that she had been sick and the doctor wanted her to have a special ride to the hospital to make sure she was okay. She said, "Alright." Then closed her eye and went to sleep.

After testing and another scary seizure the neurologists discovered that Nicole had abnormal electrical activity on the lower left side of her brain. They didn't know what was causing the problem, but they could treat it with medication. The type of seizures she had were somehow triggered in the process of her falling asleep. I haven't slept through the night since. I always have to check on her and on Kristen. I remember when she was about 10 and I peeked in her room in the middle of the night she murmured "I'm fine, Mom." Nicole's pediatrician gave me great advice. She said, "Epilepsy is something that Nicole has, don't let it define who she is." I tried very hard to remember that - but still felt a little nervous when she would swing, or swim or ride her bike.

My neighbor is convinced angels moved her into my room. "How else could she have gotten there?" She has asked. Maybe she is right. I certainly never would have done more then glanced in to see if she was in bed. She was 5 years old - we weren't at the point where I was holding a mirror under her nose to see if she was breathing. So it leaves one to wonder...

I'm happy to say that she has been seizure free for almost 5 years. We were very fortunate that she grew out of this form of Epilepsy. I feel very blessed that I heard that voice telling me to go to bed, blessed that my parents were there, blessed that the traffic was light and blessed that those medical personnel were so quick to resond - Because I can't imagine my life without Nicole in it!


Jill said...

This story gave me chills! How incredibly frightening this whole thing must have been and yet your faith all along the way sounds so comforting.

It's such a blessing that you not only heard the voice telling you to go to bed, but that you listened and followed through! What if you hadn't?

michelle said...

You know, I hadn't remembered that she was only 5 when this happened! So scary. And so great that you felt sustained and comforted throughout the whole ordeal. I'm glad Nicool is still with us, too!

Tara and Dan said...

I remember you telling me that story before but I STILL got teary eyed reading it! As a mother, I can truly see how scary that must have been. Thank goodness you listened to that voice!