Journey to Judah: Part 7 - The Seizure
May 16, 2018
Judah woke up around 7 am, which was a couple hours earlier than normal. As I got him out of the crib, I felt defeated. He still felt just a little warm. We had hoped and prayed that his fever would be gone today. We were now on day 5 of this low-grade fever, but he wasn’t showing any other symptoms besides a little fussiness. We weren’t sure if the cause was the huge transition he was experiencing, the grief he was feeling, the 4 teeth coming in, or something else entirely. Just to be safe, we had taken him to a pediatrician in Hyderabad the day before, who diagnosed him with a “well fever,” possibly brought on by stress.
As I placed him in bed with us, I contemplated giving him more Tylenol but decided I’d wait until after he ate breakfast so it didn’t upset his tummy. He curled up next to Marcus, and we watched him sleep off and on for about an hour. I snapped this sweet photo and had no idea how much things would change in the next few minutes.
What happened after that is forever engrained in my mind:
Judah began seizing.
It took us a few seconds to register what was really happening. It took a few more seconds to realize that we were in India...and we could not call 911.
Marcus held him on his side, and I ran out of the room to get Kady, whose apartment we were staying at that week. “He’s having a seizure. What do we do?” was all I could get out as tears poured down my cheeks.
“Who?” she said, eyes wide, as she ran after me into the bedroom.
Judah was still seizing when we got back into the room. My baby who I’d prayed about for over 5 years, the baby boy we’d only had custody of for 10 short days, the baby boy whose court order we had just received the day before which legally declared him our son- was convulsing.
My heart was beating so fast. “You just have to hold him through it,” Kady said calmly. Marcus kept holding him while he jerked and shook.
“Does he feel hot?” Kady asked. Marcus said that he felt very hot, and I grabbed a thermometer.
I placed the thermometer under his arm. I could tell he was much warmer than he had been just a few minutes ago, and I watched the temperature on the thermometer rise quickly.
Judah was still seizing as the numbers on the display screen climbed higher. His body was rigid, and he was shaking.
The thermometer never beeped to tell me it was done, but once the temperature reached 105 degrees, I pulled it out from under his arm anyway. At that point, it was obvious that he had a really high fever.
Judah was still seizing. His eyes were rolled back in his head and blinking rapidly.
Marcus held him while I sobbed uncontrollably, screaming, “Why didn’t I just give him the Tylenol this morning?” I learned that I am not good or helpful in a medical emergency. Thankfully Kady, the calm voice of reason, was there with us.
Judah was still seizing. His breath was coming in and out in short gasps of air.
“This is lasting too long,” Kady said. “I’m going to go get Ernest, so he can drive you to the hospital. Get your stuff ready to go.” Kady left the room and walked to the apartment across the hall to wake up Ernest.
Judah was still seizing. He changed colors right before our eyes, turning much paler.
“Marcus just pray for him!” I screamed. Of course, Marcus was already praying for him, but I was too distraught to get any words out to pray myself. I hoped the Holy Spirit was interceding on my behalf. I was afraid that we were not going to get to bring our little boy home. I was afraid that he would never meet his sisters. I was afraid that we came to India just to lose him in our arms.
Judah was still seizing. He began foaming at the mouth.
I spun in circles, frantically looking for the diaper bag, which was right beside me on the floor. I grabbed my wallet and my phone and slipped on some flip-flops. I had no idea what else we might need.
Judah was still seizing. His arms and legs twitching, his head moving back and forth.
Marcus grabbed his phone and wallet, slipped on some shoes, and threw on a hat. We moved into the hallway, waiting for Ernest to get dressed so he could drive us. Marcus held Judah in his arms and kept him on his side.
Judah was still seizing. How many minutes had it been now? 3 or 4? 5? It felt like an eternity.
Lakshmi, a widow who lived with Ernest and his wife, came into the hallway. She only spoke a little English, but she put her hand on Judah and said, “Hot.” Then she looked at me and said, “Cool.”
Of course! We needed to cool him down! We immediately stripped his clothes off of him. Why hadn’t we already done this? I raced inside to get a bottle of water and a wet towel. Kady raced inside, remembering she had some fever patches. She placed one patch on his forehead and the second patch on his back, hoping it would cool him down quickly. I wiped him with the damp rag, sobbing, as he just laid there, rigid and twitching, his eyes fixed to the right side now.
What would he be like when he woke up? If he woke up? Our sweet, happy baby who we had known for 10 days...was he going to be okay?
I continued dabbing him with the rag and repeating, “Please, Jesus. Please.” Its all I could get out, tears streaming down my face.
After a few more seconds, the twitching seemed to slow a little. Finally. “Please, Jesus. Please. Don’t take him.”
Kady handed me some Motrin. “If he stops seizing, try to get some of it in him since his fever is so high. Don’t do it yet. We don’t want him to choke.”
His body was still rigid, but he began to cry. It was an awful, blood-curdling cry, but I would definitely take it over the sound of gasping for air that we’d been hearing for the last several minutes.
As the seizing continued to slow, his body relaxed a little, and I filled a dropper with medicine. I slowly squeezed a little in his mouth. About half came right back out, but then he swallowed and some of it went down his throat. I squeezed a little more and got the same results. Some fever reducer in his system was better than none, but I had no way to tell how much he’d actually swallowed. “Please, Jesus. Please let it help.”
Just then, Ernest rushed out, ready to go. Judah was twitching his arms sporadically and staring blankly ahead. His mouth kept shifting to the left side. The elevator was already waiting for us. We stepped inside and pushed the button.
“We’re praying! We’re praying! Jesus is our healer!” Kady screamed through the elevator doors as it made its way to the ground floor.
We hurried into Ernest’s car and headed to the hospital. Judah was now laying very still, and his crying had now turned to moaning. My sobbing had turned to silent tears as the seizure stopped, but I was still terrified and my hands were shaking. I grabbed Marcus’s phone and texted his mom. “Judah had a seizure. On our way to the hospital. Ask people to pray,” was all it said. It was after 11:00 PM at home. Was anyone even awake to pray? “Please, Jesus. Please.”
Ernest drove quickly, but the traffic was already thick. We pulled up to the hospital within 10 minutes though, and all 3 of us jumped out of the car. Everyone stared as we ran up the steps and through the hospital doors with our baby in Marcus’s arms. Some people from the hospital ran toward us and looked at Judah. One of them said something to Ernest in Telugu. Ernest looked at us and said one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard, “We can’t stay here. They don’t accept children at this hospital.” What!? I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. We needed someone to help our son!
We raced back to the car, which was still illegally parked outside the entrance, and climbed back inside. Ernest took off again, weaving in and out of traffic. In the intensity of the moment, Ernest had forgotten about the construction in this area. The road we needed to take was closed, and we had reached a dead end. Apologizing profusely, he backtracked even faster, weaved in and out of people walking down the street, and found another way to get to the hospital.
We pulled up to the second hospital within 15 minutes and, once again, ran inside carrying a very weak baby. They immediately took us into a triage room. “What’s wrong?” a nurse asked. I started to explain, and then Ernest simply said, “Fits.” They immediately took Judah’s vitals, and Ernest left to park the car in a more appropriate place. Judah’s temperature was 103 and his heart rate was causing alarms to sound, but he didn’t appear to be seizing anymore. Someone at the hospital spoke to Ernest once he returned from parking the car. Once again, Ernest looked at us and said something ludicrous, “They treat children here, but they don’t have a pediatrician today. We have to go somewhere else.” Was this real? Where were we!?
In disbelief, we ran back out of the second hospital. Ernest sprinted to get the car, which he had just parked in the parking garage. We piled back into it and headed back out into the traffic. Judah was very still. He looked exhausted, and he would let out little whimpers now and then. “Had he ever had a seizure before?” I wondered. Nothing about it was listed on the brief medical file we’d received, although I suddenly realized how little I actually knew about his medical history.
Not having children, Ernest wasn’t really sure where to go next. He jumped out of the car while sitting in traffic to ask someone for guidance and directions. How badly I longed to be in the United States where we could just call for an ambulance, where there was no such thing has adult-only hospitals, and where pediatricians were readily available. We were so thankful that God placed us in an apartment right next door to Ernest, though. How would we have navigated all of this on our own?
We finally pulled up in front of a third hospital and started to get out of the car. As soon as the security guard saw Judah in Marcus’s arms, he stopped us and pointed down the road as he spoke to Ernest. We learned from Ernest that this hospital also did not treat children, but that there was one just a few blocks away that could probably treat him. “Please, Jesus. Please.” I still couldn’t believe this was how things worked in India. We just wanted someone, anyone to help our son.
It was like deja vu, running up the steps of a fourth hospital. Could they help us? For the second time, we were taken to a triage room. They checked Judah’s vitals. His temperature and his heart rate were still high, even though he lay very still on Marcus’s lap.
After a few minutes, a doctor came over to us and let us know that they did not treat tourists at this hospital. We were desperate, and we convinced him that Judah was not a foreigner because he was born in India. Finally, the doctor agreed to admit him. We were relieved, but the feeling didn’t last long once we realized what kind of place this really was...