I realized last Wednesday that there is a fragile membrane between life as we know it and abject chaos. When something occurs that causes you to define life before and after that particular event, it's not so much about things being different so much as things being unexpected. I thought we had received one of these moments the other night. Luckily, I was wrong.
Wednesday night, Sidney and I visited Ken at work and ate dinner at the cafeteria with him. I should have known something was up when Sidney did not eat much of anything. That girl (like her mother) is always up for some food. She seemed a little tired which was understandable given that she had gone to co-op preschool in the morning and that is always very stimulating. After dinner we walked to Ken's office to pick up some things before leaving. Sidney was walking around and touching all the colorful chairs in the common area and followed us into the office.
Suddenly she fell down on the carpeted floor. Not a big fall by toddler standards but Ken and I, who had been chatting and walking, stopped and turned to attend to her. We expected her to a) start crying and b) sit up or stand up. She did neither. She just stared with a dazed look in her eyes and her arm stuck up in the air as it was when she fell. She wasn't making efforts to change her position or do something normal. She just lay there staring at us and her breathing became choppy. Time started to float as I grappled with my logical and freak-out parts of my brain. 'What is happening?' I kept thinking. Along with: Is she paralyzed? Did she just get the wind knocked out of her? Did she break something? More time passes and uncertainty makes the scene even more surreal. Ken had her in his arms by now and though her eyes were open she was distant. She was hot to the touch which I hadn't really noticed before and she was shivering/shaking. Ken tried to talk to her and coax her into reacting to him by making her laugh or asking questions. He's getting no response to these efforts and her breathing is ragged.
By then I fumbled around on the desks, looking for a phone because evidently they don't all have them at Google and if they do, they are buried among the other hardware and stuff on their desks. As expletives pour out of my mouth, I managed to find one but got nothing when I dialed '911'. (I think I forgot to dial 9 for an outside line.) So using my cellphone, I reached 911 and they dispatched the firetruck which is the fastest responder to any type of emergency. This always seems silly when you don't have a fire since there are no less than 4 guys who will arrive in firefighting gear and a big truck. But they met us at the front door of the building. By then Sidney was starting to come around but she clearly had a fever, her body was covered in red splotchy rashes and she was still shaking. I suspected she had had a febrile seizure but I considered that it also could be an allergic reaction to something. The only reason I knew what a febrile seizure was is because my friend Karen told me about her son having one a few years ago. It had necessitated an ambulance ride to Children's Hospital ER. So I was ready for that possibility but the firefighters examined Sidney briefly (one of them also recognized me from when they visited us at the house a month ago.) They said she was stable enough for us to transport ourselves so we hastily strapped her into the car and motored over to Children's Hospital.
She arrived with a 104 degree fever and was promptly given Tylenol. This helped. We were seen by a triage nurse, lab tech, nurse and doctor. They were all great. We were treated very well and checked up on routinely. They confirmed the febrile seizure and eliminated urinary tract infection as the cause of the fever spike. (To this day, we still don't know why she had that fever.) They send us home and by then her temperature dropped to 99 degrees. That night she slept in her pack n'play in our room. I checked her every few hours to see if she was breathing and if she was a comfortable temperature. The next day her temps were around 101 but her demeanor was completely normal. By Friday the temperatures were completely normal and you couldn't tell anything weird had happened. Amazing.