Small K and Febrile Seizure

Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 really hasn't been looking too good. As much as I try to keep to my resolution of celebrating every victory each day no matter how small they are, there was really nothing much to cheer about over the weekend. 

Small K had been having the runs since Monday and after administering some diarrhoea meds, it still did not alleviate the problem. Then fever kicked in. But after a day, it subsided and I dismissed it as one of those "growing up" stages. The old folks always say that some fevers are a sign that the kid is going to grow taller. The fever however came back again on Friday and we decided to consult a paediatrician. Our regular PD was on leave and according to the one who was sitting in (a GP), he said that it was a case of stomach flu. That morning, Small K's fever was hovering around 37.4 degrees. That, to me was no fever. Everything went pretty fine throughout the day as his temperature was still at a manageable 38.5 degrees celsius when I was home to check on him at 6pm. The hubs and I decided to head out for dinner but at 7pm we received a call that his temperature escalated to 40.4 degrees and his eyeballs were rolling upwards (翻白眼). My throat constricted and my chest tightened. He was also shaking and the ever-chill hubs told my Mil that the boy was just feeling cold and shivering since he wasn't displaying stiffness. Hubs immediately asked our family members to administer Ibuprofen. However, I knew that deep down the hubs was like ants in a hot pan. We dashed out of the restaurant as if we had just robbed a bank and drove like an F1 driver to get the boy to the hospital. Thankfully we had yet to order our dinner. 

Along the way, I was googling on Febrile Seizure which I had previously read up on just to equip myself with information and was praying fervently that it wasn't a seizure that the boy just had. When  we arrived, I carried the limp boy who was burning like fire. Again, we zipped to the nearest hospital like Schumacher only to be greeted with a sign at the Emergency ward saying that the waiting time was estimated to be 2hours! 2HOURS? Are you mad! The husband had refused to go to the public hospital, KKH and opted for a private hospital because he didn't want to wait. I kicked up a fuss and got the boy checked in less than 10minutes. I was correct. It was Febrile Seizure. 

What is Febrile Seizure?
Febrile seizures are convulsions that occur in young children ages between 6 months to about 5 years old. The risk usually peaks during the second year of life. It is commonly accompanied with fever, cold or a ear infection. There are also some which are caused by post-immunisation. The fever, not the immunisation causes the seizure. In some cases, the child may not even have fever at the time of seizure but develop one a few hours later. About 40 percent of children who experience one febrile seizure will have a recurrence. Thanks a lot. Children at highest risk of recurrence are 
  1. Those who had it younger than 18 months (Phew, we are 20mo!)
  2. A family history of febrile seizures (I was just told by the mil that her whole kampong had it and that the hubs had two episodes when young. Thanks a lot of that late information! Why is Small K inheriting all the bad stuff from that side of the fam?)
  3. A febrile seizure as the first sign of an illness
  4. a relatively low temperature increases with their first seizure (ours was a pretty sudden spike so I guess that makes us lower risk?)
Fortunately, I was told that they are usually harmless and typically don't indicate an ongoing problem.  Simple seizures don't cause brain damage, mental retardation or learning disabilities. Febrile seizures also does not indicate epilepsy. If the seizure recur within 24hours, then, there is an increased risk of probably 10%. 

However, to be safe, we had Small K admitted in hospital for a check. Before diagnosing that it is a Febrile seizure, some doctors will perform tests to make sure it is not an underlying problem. For instance, meningitis, which is an infection of the membranes surround the brain. If a doctor suspects that, a spinal tap may be needed to check for signs of the infection in the cerebrospinal fluid. Say WHAT? It is the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Thankfully, we were spared. If there has been sever diarrhoea or vomitting, dehydration could be responsible for seizures. Likely to be our case as Small K hates taking in fluids except milk and soups. Our doctor performed a urine test to ensure that it wasn't UTI. Getting a urine sample was such a challenge! Eventually, a blood test was performed and results showed presence of bacteria which was the cause of his infection. White spots were also seen in his throat. I was initially worried that it was due to the fact that I was exposed to a student who had HFMD. I saw the kid 10 days after her symptoms and the irresponsible mother didn't want to confirm that it was HFMD and insisted that the child was well as she had returned to school. Long story short, it isn't HFMD for Small K's case. Thank God!

The symptoms
  • Severe shaking or tightening of muscles
  • jerking of arms and legs
  • vomitting
  • extreme sleepiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • breathing problems
  • eyeballs rolling up
For Small K's case, he had his eyeballs rolled up and was unresponsive for a few minutes. That was enough to freak the family out. I am sure if I was present, I would have gone insane!

What to do during a Febrile Seizure?
  1. Place him or her on a safe surface on his side, keeping the face to the side and lower arm under the head. This is to prevent the child from inhaling vomit if vomiting occurs.
  2. If your child has anything in his mouth, remove it! Don't put anything in the child's mouth during a seizure! The old folks believe in putting a metal spoon in them for fear that they will bite their tongue. But experts urge not to do that as the teeth will be damaged. 
  3. Take not of how long the episode was. Seek emergency care for seizure that lasts more than 10 minutes.
  4. Stay calm. That is the most important thing though it is also the toughest thing to do!

The 3 days spent shuttling up and down to the hospital was beyond arduous. It had rendered me utterly exhausted. The sick Small K wanted mommy. The sticky Big K also wanted mommy. Who doesn't? As reluctant as I was, I had to bring along Big K to the hospital and await the MIL to come over to trick her home. Small K was beaming when the sister was around and the moment she left, he started throwing huge tantrums and was crying incessantly. He kept demanding to go "gai gai" i.e. take a walk. The Terrible twos seemed to be hitting us earlier than we know. On a few occasions, the boy was rolling on the floor! I don't recall Big K being this bad at two but then again, the post pregnancy brain could have caused me to wipe out unpleasant thoughts. I walked up and down the corridor to get him to sleep and was successful but the moment I entered the room and put him down, he wakes up screaming. I was extremely apologetic to the 6yo patient lying next to us. However, the boy was a superb sleeper and was able to nap for 3hours despite all the commotion. I tried carrying  Small K to sleep too but after 20minutes, he awoke. My back was breaking from all the carrying. The hubs did his part by doing the night shift while I headed home to get Big K to sleep. Right after she's sound asleep, I got stuff packed and headed back to the hospital again at midnight. Even though I was at home, I was worried. Worried that his temperature would go up again. Worried that he would be difficult and the hub would lose control and throw him down the window. Wild thoughts ran through my mind. The next day, I was once again entertaining both children in the hospital as the hub went home for a quick shower and a quick eye shut. Thankfully, the girl was very cooperative and did her Tangrams whilst I made her brother sleep. He slept and every 30mins I checked on him. No nurse came in to take his temperature. I am paying private fees and yet getting such service. Finally during the last stretch of his nap, I checked and felt that he was burning up. I carried him and thought that it could perhaps be due to my cold hands. Instinctively, I called for the nurse who went into a frenzy upon checking that his temperature was 40.4degrees celsius! Immediately, suppository was administered. The poor boy was screaming his lungs out. So because of this episode, we had to stay another night. This time, the hubs was trying to persuade Me to stay over. As much as I love the boy, I didn't think I was strong enough mentally and physically to weather the night hence gave a valid excuse that Big K wouldn't sleep if I wasn't around. Day 3, we woke up early and waited for the doctor's advice. Finally! He gave us the green light to be discharged! YIPEE! We have to be on antibiotics for his bad throat and monitor any fevers closely. But at least back home, we have more help. 

So, this is the story of Small K's first and hopefully last episode of Febrile Seizure!