Monday, August 19, 2013

From the heart: Asher's seizure and God's faithfulness

My happy little girl. They left the line in after the
anaesthetic just in case it was needed.
On Sunday morning, just before 3am, I took Asher to the potty as I often do around that time (I hear her niggling and know that she "needs to go"). As I put her back into her cot the jerking started. I moved her to my bed so that I could watch her more carefully and knew that she was having a full blown grand mal seizure (or afebrile tonic clonic seizure as I learnt later).

I kept her on her side and after a minute could see that the excess saliva in her mouth was able to run out. It was a relief to have so much noise coming from her mouth with every jerk as it gave me the reassurance that air was moving in and out. Within a minute we decided to call the ambulance as with her "episode" 2 months before -they had said that if it happened again it would more than likely just be the same. This was SO different though. After 4 or 5 minutes the jerks seemed to get even stronger although there was a bit more of a space between them. Even at this slower pace they were still coming at more than 1 every second. It looked like pulses of electricity going through her.

On Monday the Play area was open and we could
go and borrow some toys for Asher. We also
enjoyed spending a bit of time there watching the fish.
It was great to get reassurance from the lady on the phone that we were doing all that we could for her and that the ambulance was on its way. I remember her telling me to let her know if anything changed. At around 9 minutes the noises stopped and I told her about it and realized how reassuring the noise had been. I tried to see if her chest was moving with her breathing but eventually realized that looking at her tummy was better. By the time I saw her tummy moving with each breath, the seizure had stopped. So the change in sound was probably just the fact that it was stopping.

First response (the St John volunteers that live really close to us) were with us by the time the seizure had stopped. They quickly checked her vital signs and got her onto a bit of oxygen as her saturation level did not look as high as it should have been. The ambulance arrived not long after that and I started getting bags packed for heading into town.

Asher had a lovely sleep during the trip in. The paramedics kept checking her vitals and for most of the trip I held the oxygen pipe close to her face to just help her levels be as good as they could be. She woke (as I expected) when we arrived at the hospital and just like last time was a happy friendly girl - bringing many smiles to the faces of those who saw her. It wasn't too long before we were admitted to the Children's Acute Assessment ward.

Isn't it a beauty? It reminded me so much
of my Dad's fish tanks when I was growing
up. Such wonderful memories.
The last time we were at the hospital one doctor had suggested getting a video if it ever happened again and so we had a couple of video clips. I took the first one and then realized I should get one specifically with her eyes. Later Brendon pointed out how tightly her fists were clenched and so  I made sure I had a clip with her whole body in too. These were really helpful for the doctors to watch and know exactly what happened. I did however have to tell the same story a number of times through the day - explaining all that had happened.

Part of the details I gave was the fact that on Friday morning I had noticed Asher had her eyes off to the side again (this time to the right) - as if she was trying to look into the floor. We could not get her to look at us and she just kept pulling her head to that side. She was not totally "out of it" as with the big long one at 4 months - but I still thought something was up. She had another one of these little "episodes" while we were in the hospital on Sunday morning. This time to her left. I rang the bell and we very quickly had a few people in the room with us. Although it was not a major seizure - it was good for them to get to see one of these smaller episodes. It is not nice to see your child not themselves. So although she was not totally "out of it" - I just knew something had happened. The nurse checked her blood sugar (which was fine) and had all the bits and pieces next to Asher on the bed. Even though they were right in front of her face - she was not even attempting to reach for them. She had a nap after this and it was again such a blessing to have her wake up and be her happy interactive self again.

Getting her EEG done. One of the nurses
came with and kept Asher interested
in different toys to distract her.
The 2nd doctor we saw in the morning got to see her during this active "normal self" time which was great. It was the same doctor who we saw when Ruth struggled with her swollen fingers when she was little. So it was nice for me to have a familiar face (not sure if he remembered me after 4 years - although I suppose my accent helps me stand out). We chatted through things again and he said they would do an ECG again as well as an MRI and an EEG. We discussed the need for a general anaesthetic for Asher for the MRI and he said he would talk to the neurologist and make sure they did all the tests that they needed to and could do while she was under. I was very relieved (and so was Brendon) when he came back to me later to say that they had decided that the Lumbar puncture would not be necessary as Asher was doing so well developmentally.

The MRI was scheduled for just after lunch. We were very thankful it could be organized on the weekend. I was also thankful that I had been warned that although the scan itself might only take 20 minutes (if they get a good picture first time) it could be up to 3 hours before I am called to come to her in the recovery room. The anaesthetist was really friendly and told me to not worry if it was even 3 hours - that it did not mean anything was wrong. He was also very gentle and kind to both of us when she got the anaesthetic. He had explained to me what would happen and what to expect and it helped to have this extra care and kindness.

The worst part is making sure the connections are
good - so with a bit of gel they scratch the scalp.
Just before we were called for the MRI two friends arrived with some goodies for us (airtime for my phone, snacks for me and toys for Asher). It was lovely to have their company and they even thought of giving me a magazine that had LOADS of pages full of puzzles (and even 2 pens so I could do the puzzles). I did end up having to wait for 3 hours and the puzzles were a great way of helping the time pass quickly.

The MRI showed no clear problems or reasons for the seizure. The EEG could not get done on the weekends but they were hoping to have it organized for Monday (so that we could get it done before heading home and not have to come in again for it).

Early on Monday morning we were told the EEG was scheduled for 2pm and then we could head home. What a blessing. It was also great to get enough time discussing things with the doctor. The plan for now is that we wait and see if a pattern develops. He said that some parents are very fearful of another seizure happening and so would be happy to start preventative medication straight away. He felt however that if I was comfortable with it - we could just wait and see if / when it happens again. He said we could not even be dogmatic and say that we would want to start medication if she had another seizure because he said if it was only in a years time - then it may not be worth worrying about medication. He explained why so often babies and young children grow out of epilepsy like this and so it was really good to feel in total agreement of how to handle things at this stage. He did give me a script for medication to take home that I can give to Asher if she does have another seizure and it goes over 4 or 5 minutes. It was great to chat to one of the doctors about it all and play through a few scenarios so that I know exactly what to do if it happens again.

Such a good girl.
Through this whole time the Lord has really been so very close to me and given me so much peace. I thank Him for this and know it is from Him.

Over the previous month we went through a very stressful time. I kept thinking that I had learnt to really trust the Lord and then things got a bit harder, and a bit harder and a bit harder. So He really did prepare me. He helped me to trust Him to a level that I have never done before. The lessons He had for me were perfect. The trial was not pleasant to go through - but the outcome of having that total faith and trust in Him - made it worth it. The wonderful peace and calmness that He gave me through these days was a testimony to His love and grace. Is is a wonderful comfort to know that He has every tiny detail on our lives in His loving hands. Even when the experiences are not pleasant - we can know without a doubt that He loves us, cares for us and will work it for our good (Romans 8:28). What a blessing to be a child of God.

Two of my favourite verses are Phillipians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I have often taken comfort in these verses and I have often shared them with friends as they go through hard times which would naturally cause anxiety. What I have pointed out is that we need to take our requests to the Lord and we also need to be thanking Him for what He is and has done for us. I think this really is the key to us getting that peace.

So even though over the last few days I did not think of these verses specifically - I think they have become so much a part of me that they happened just naturally. I was automatically praying for the Lord to keep Asher safe through the seizure. Many times in the past a medically stressful situation gets me so focused on trying to "do" the right thing that I would often forget to pray. Well - this time it was not because I was any more spiritual - but I just could not do anything but pray. I knew we had to just wait it out and it was a blessing to be able to know that it was all in His control.

What I also realized though - was that my heart was just so thankful. As I looked back over the two days all I could think about were all the blessings. Let me just list a few as a way of saying thank you again to the Lord for His many blessings.
~ Thank you that the 1st response were at our home so quickly.
~ Thank you for the lady on the 111 call, the 1st response, the ambulance staff and all the hospital staff who were all so friendly and encouraging. It was not just about them doing a job but about them caring for someone. I really appreciate this so very much. People just doing little "extra" things to help us. There were so many little things that I think are often not even noticed - but I noticed so many and was so thankful.
~ Thank you for the ECG going well on Sunday morning and for the patience of the nurses as we got the cables all connected while Asher slept in my arms. They were so gentle and patient and I really appreciated it.
~ Thank you for Karyn and Rebecca visiting and blessing me with airtime for my phone, a magazine and pens (the puzzles were a wonderful treat), snacks for me and toys for Asher. And then having Holly visit a bit later bringing a few more snacks and toys. It was a blessing to have the company and your gifts and I pray that the Lord would bless you for the blessing you were to me.
~ Thank you for the anaesthetist who was really friendly and explained everything so well.
~ Thank you for free face book on my phone and all the prayer and support we could get through that.
~ Thank you for the lovely big room we got and the wonderful bed I could sleep on and for a good nights sleep for both Asher and I.
~ Thank you for the friendly mother at the tea area who told me about the toy room on Monday morning.
~ Thank you that the EEG got booked so early on Monday morning and that we could be home for dinner.
~ Thank you that the doctor and I could have good chats about how to approach Asher's care over the months ahead.
~ Thank you for left over roast (that Brendon and Rachel had made on Sunday) that we could quickly heat up when we got home on Monday.

There were so many blessings through these days and I thank the Lord that He showed me so much love through so many people. The trial of last month had left me honestly feeling sick to my stomach at the utter wickedness of some people. I had felt so much disappointment and disbelief at how selfish and evil people could be. I think the Lord specifically knew that I needed to see and feel all this love from people to make up for it. And it did. Every little act of kindness did not go unnoticed as I saw each one as a precious gift from God.

This time of learning has really made me focus again on what is really important. People. Not money or things of this world. It has helped me again to get my focus back on pleasing the Lord and living for Him and His glory through each day that He gives. Each day is a blessing from Him - may we use it wisely.

If you have read through all of this (wow - firstly - as I know I can really rattle on) and don't know the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour - then please write to me. I would like to tell you more about Him so that you too can enjoy His wonderful love and comfort and peace.

And if you are a child of God and know Christ as your Saviour but have been going through a hard time - please write to me too. I would love to be able to pray for you and encourage you as the Lord has encouraged me.

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