Today is our daughter’s birthday.
When she was 16 months old, she had a seizure that lasted 90 minutes.
90 minutes that literally took her breath away.
The doctor began to breathe for her through a table straw inserted down her throat. He continued this while they rushed her by ambulance to the nearest hospital, twenty minutes away. The medics would not allow me to ride in the ambulance.
They told me later, they had not expected her to live.
The situation was doubly frightening because we had been in Italy for just a short time, and she was going to an Italian hospital. We were just beginning to learn the language.
After an unbearable few hours, an Italian doctor appeared in the waiting room and told us, through a translator, that our baby was stable.
However, she was heavily sedated and would probably not wake until the next day. He explained that, due to the length of the seizure and their ardent attempt to stop it, they were unsure of the amount of Valium she ultimately received. They would not know the consequences of this until – and if – she woke up. They would also not know how her brain had weathered this trauma until some of the medicine wore off and they were able to get an EEG.
We agonized in the waiting room for the rest of the night.
The following morning, our baby woke up, very groggy. I scooped her close to murmur soothing endearments. She opened and closed her little hand, her version of a wave, and slurred “Ciao.” Then she fell back to sleep.
To see her eyes focus, her hand work…to hear her sleepy toddler voice…feel her sweet breath…from what her brain had suffered, these were miraculous events.
She was in the hospital for eight days, during which time it was discovered she had an ear infection. (Info. about febrile seizures here.)
To everyone’s shock, her EEG was normal.
The doctor who kept her alive by way of the straw said he had never seen such a severe seizure, and in one so young, in his twenty years of medicine. He did not think her prognosis would be positive.
It has been beyond delightful to watch her grow up and discover the world.
As a kid, she loved soccer and climbing trees. A little scientist already, she enjoyed wrapping string around her fingers until they turned purple; she just wanted to know what would happen. Her 4th-grade school picture displays a wonderful hairdo that we’ve not seen since.
As a teen, she loved youth group and dinner theater and thought she might be a doctor. She went on two mission trips to Haiti.
She has always loved dill pickles and hated tomatoes.
When she graduated from college with a degree in chemistry, the doctor who saved her life sent her a personal letter and a Mont Blanc pen. She then taught chemistry and other sciences to high schoolers for 13 years.
A year ago, she left the field of teaching to explore a career in medicine. (Back to those early experiments of what happens when you tie up your digits.) She’s been helping with the caretaking of her grandparents for a decade and has learned quite a bit about patient care. She was my go-to when my parents had bad days, and it was emotionally difficult for me.
She worked at an urgent care clinic for nearly a year – doing Covid testing – and in about 10 days, starts PA school. We are excited to see what the next adventure holds.
She has been wounded by aspects of life, as we all have been, but is not bitter or cynical. She is loving and generous. Her heart is open.
Teaching science to, and smooching on, a beloved nephew…
As our only daughter, she must endure the love and silliness we heap on her because of that fact. Bless her intuitive heart. She is a wonderful young woman. A breath of fresh life.
Happy, blessed birthday, beloved daughter.
All our love…
Mom and Dad