My youngest , Beau, complained a few times about his tummy hurting, which isn't uncommon. He's had stomach troubles on and off for over a year. So I continued to do what I always do - hug and kiss him whenever he needed it.
He remained at my side at the football. He wasn't himself, but I thought it was just a bad flare up of his stomach issues. Then he refused to eat lunch, and it wasn't the normal Vegemite sandwiches. We were at the footy, participating in the pie with sauce ritual. It became apparent that he was dealing with something more than just a tummy issue. I'd had a fever during the week, what I thought was a major case of the man flu. So maybe that was it.
Within the hour he started to get warm. *Insert alarms*
My boys both have a past of febrile convulsions. My eldest (now 7) seems to have grown out of them. And Beau (now 5) hasn't had one in a damn long time. However, it is always a risky time. So we decided to start the forty minute drive home.
I gave him a piece of raspberry licorice (a treat that will now haunt me for the rest of my life). If he wasn't going to eat lunch, at least he would have a little sugar in his system to give him energy.
From then on things are a little fuzzy. We drove out of the very small town and through another equally small place called Coolamon. Then I turned to the back seat and my life slowed to freeze frames.
Beau was tilted forward slightly. His eyes glassy, looking straight through me, that damn piece of raspberry licorice jutting from his lips. I guess, initially, I thought he was goofing around. Just staring at me for a few seconds before he would snap out of it and throw me one of his cheesy smiles. But he didn't.
I called to him. I grabbed his leg and shook. And still he leaned forward, his eyes glassy, shattering my heart into a million pieces.
By this time my husband could tell there was a problem. I told him to pull over, maybe I yelled. I don't know. And the car skidding into the gravel on the side of the road. I was out the door before we came to a stop. I dug my fingers into his mouth. It took effort to open his jaw because it was locked tight. But I needed to make sure there was no more of that damn raspberry licorice in his throat. And still those eyes wouldn't acknowledge me. He wouldn't snap out of it.
Usually febrile convulsions are violent. My eldest son jerks and thrashes, he will stop breathing, then within a few seconds he will snap out of it. But Beau is different. He goes deathly still. He doesn't move. And it lasts a lifetime before he becomes conscious.
No matter what I did, he wouldn't react. I was cupping his cheeks, begging for him to look at me. I was undoing his car seat arm restraints (no idea why), I was pulling off his shoes, trying to get clothes off him. But still, he wouldn't react. His jaw was locked tight. His eyes unseeing. Drool dribbling from his mouth.
We needed to do something. I just didn't know what.
I refastened his arm restraints and climbed into the seat between him and his brother, then told my husband to drive....But where the hell were we driving to? We were half an hour from our home towns hospital. Currently on the highway heading out of a tiny town. Years ago, there was a lot of publicity about smaller hospitals being closed. In towns just like the one we'd left.
I think we panicked. Hubby started heading toward home, then he did a 360 and headed back for the town we just left. We didn't even know if there was a hospital. We were frantic. Then Beau started going blue. His lips were getting darker, the drool still dribbling out, the eyes still unresponsive.
I started dialing 000 hoping someone could tell us which way to go. But all they kept asking was 'What street are you on?" I had no f*cking clue. My husband had no f*cking clue. We were simply driving through this small country town, trying to get home.
Then, by luck or divine intervention, a sign was on the left of the road - Hospital 200m. I don't think I've felt so much relief in my life. We were overtaking people in the middle of a lonely street, we had our hazard lights on (the only direction the emergency operator gave us). And as soon as we arrived at the tiny hospital (about the size of a large house) I was out the door dragging my son into my arms within seconds.
He was still unresponsive and before I reached the door, he lost his bladder, soaking us both. I then had to press a doorbell just to enter the hospital - yes, it was that damn small. There were two nurses, plus another they were teaching. They didn't even have a doctor available.
We've gone through this before. The first time I experienced the terror of a febrile convulsion, I was home alone with my first child. I was also pregnant with Beau. And no matter how many times it happens, I never EVER become confident that they will pull out of it. Each time lasts longer. Each time one of my children stops breathing and becomes the most fragile piece of glass in my arms, a part of me dies.
You never know how long it will last. You never know if the next time will be long enough to cause permanent damage. And the raw dose of vulnerability is enough to bring you to your knees.
But then I placed my son down on the hospital bed, shaking, holding my breath and he blinked up at me, his eyes finally registering I was there. And I could finally breath again. It was like a gift. A huge, lifesaving gift that made me want to sob.
He still couldn't talk, it took hours for that to return. But we were on the home slide. My boy was back...and now mummy could lose her sh*t. I was a wreck. I couldn't even answer the nurse's question about his date of birth...well, I did, I just answered incorrectly.
After the doctor was called in, they did the usual observations and within the hour we were back on the road. It's surreal. One minute your son has stopped breathing, your whole life is falling apart around you, then an hour later you are back on the road.
Something so simple, a slight rise in body temperature, sent our world into a tailspin. And the only reason why I'm telling you all is because it saves on therapy bills. Today was horrific for our family. I can vaguely remember my eldest son asking me, 'What does that mean? What does that mean?' when I was telling my husband Beau was turning blue. But we are all home together...funnily enough, watching the damn football.
Hug the ones you love. Smile, even if you don't want to. Remember your life is precious. Cherish the goodness in your life, and always tell the ones you care about how you feel...unless you feel like punching them in the face, then maybe keep that to yourself.