Monday, May 18, 2009

Seizures

My sister and I went to see Star Trek Monday, but she was feeling really odd and nauseous. As we walked around Barnes and Noble searching for a place to sit down, her whole body went limp and she stopped responding to my voice. I eased her down to the ground and held her head in my lap as I watched my sweet baby sister helplessly seize and shake. It took me a moment to realize what was happening, but as soon as I did, I had help.

There was a woman behind me with her cell phone already out who was able to call 911 within seconds of when Kelsey's seizure started. Even more luckily perhaps, a gentleman who works at the store is married to a woman with epilepsy and was able to help me handle the situation. Unfortunately for myself, he arrived just a short time after I put my finger in Kelsey's mouth to stop her from biting her tongue off. I do not really regret that decision, but I'm thinking it's not so good that I still have no feeling in the tip section of that finger.

The seizure lasted between a minute and a half to two minutes. It was the longest-shortest time in my entire life. My sister is like my daughter, is my best friend, and one of the people that makes my world a better place. Sure, we fight a lot, but I think that she and I both know how very much the other loves her. The ways in which her body contorted and twisted, trembled and shook - there are no words which can describe the terrible mark those sights have left on me.

As Kelsey started coming out of her Grand Mal seizure, I was sure she was dying. Her clenched jaw began to ease up, but her breathing was still so labored, almost non-existent; her eyes were still in the back of her head and her face was still the palest I've ever seen it. The man whose wife had epilepsy was talking me through the situation, telling me that she would be alright, but there was a big part of me that couldn't believe this Good Samaritan.

Nothing... nothing... finally a breath. I laid her down on the ground in the open area which had now become our ground zero. She kept crawling around, squirming and grunting. I just kept talking to her, saying her name, and telling her that everything was going to be alright... even though I wasn't sure it would be. I had to believe, if only just for her. It was a few moments later that the paramedics showed up. 

Altogether, about five minutes had elapsed from the time my sister passed out. I was very impressed with the quick response from the EMTs. The both of them were very helpful and I was so grateful to have these men who knew how to handle both the situation and someone who is younger and very confused. The younger of the paramedics was very good with Kelsey throughout our time with them.

Once the paramedics had gotten some vitals from my sister and vital information from myself, we got Kelsey onto the stretcher and headed for the elevator. Kelsey still doesn't remember being fully with it during this time period, but she was so scared. She kept talking about how she wanted our mom, that I needed to be right with her, and that she didn't want to go to the ambulance. I had tried to maintain my cool throughout the situation, but seeing her so confused and so very out of it made my heart drop.

Once we got down to the ambulance, the paramedics wanted me to sit in the front seat, where Kelsey couldn't see me. I began to call my parents and let them know what had happened now that I could count on paramedics to care for my sister. My mom sounded brave on the phone, but I could feel her heart sink; the situation was the same with my step dad. The paramedics came over and let me know that I could come sit right next to Kelsey instead, helping the two of us feel a whole lot better.

We sat in the ambulance for what felt like ten minutes before actually leaving for the Children's Hospital. En route to the hospital, my sister finally came to completely. By this point, we had talked five or six times about what had happened, but this last time there was a different look in her eyes. She understood what I had said and started worrying about our financial situation instead of her own health. She also stared making more jokes, so I knew that she had come back. She didn't really recall any of the events of the day or even the night before.

We finally got to the emergency room entrance of the hospital after almost losing Kelsey to traffic during the ride. Her stretcher wasn't secured all the way and she started to drift towards the doors. The paramedic in the back didn't notice right away, but I did. After everything we'd already been through that day, I had to re-lock her stretcher into place too. I'm just happy she didn't fly out onto the busy road behind us.

We were shown to Kelsey's room and she was able - for the first time - to move on her own. The attending nurse got some more vitals and then left us to get Kelsey into her hospital gown. She was still amazingly dizzy and it was near impossible for her to stand on her own for longer than a second. We got her changed into her gown. It was the first time we'd been alone since we'd left the car before ten thirty. Understandably, after the day's events, we hugged so tightly and began to cry. It was about this time that my parents showed up, turning the crying duo into a foursome.

We were in the hospital for a few hours. Between phone calls and text messages, most of anyone important knew about the situation relatively quickly. The nurses got Kelsey on a saline IV, then ran blood tests on electrolytes, an EKG, and a CT scan. After all those tests, there wasn't any reason found for Kelsey's seizure. She only has a 30% chance of having another seizure again in her whole life, but that won't prevent me from watching her like a hawk when I can be around.

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