“Quinn is having some kind of seizure here in the school office and we’re calling 911.”
Are there words that would make me move faster? I can’t imagine what.
I had just gotten back from swimming
at the Y and was still in my sweatpants, my hair was soaking wet. I
didn’t have on socks. I called Ian at the violin store and told him
what had just been told to me as I jammed on my shoes and ran out the
door. I left both doors unlocked and the phone off the hook.
Every light was red between my house and the school. All the cars I
was behind seemed infuriatingly slow. There was a firetruck outside the
school, lights still flashing. I parked directly behind where Ian had
parked the minivan moments before, and ran all the way into the
The copy room off the main office was filled with people: paramedics,
the principal, the school nurse, my husband…. And my little Quinn
unconscious on a blue stretcher, an oxygen mask on his face. I leaned
down on the floor near my son and realized I was shaking.
It’s hard to even describe what a sight like that does to you. You
want to stay calm and can’t. You want to be positive and your mind
darts to horrible places. You are completely absorbed in the moment and
strangely feel yourself slipping somewhere else. You wonder what comes
next but you don’t want to know.
Apparently while Quinn’s class was walking to the library he started
acting fatigued and whiny, when all of a sudden he went limp and passed
out. Luckily, of all the people in the school, Quinn happened to be
walking next to the nurse, who caught him as he fell so he didn’t hit
his head. She rushed him to the office where they called our emergency
contact when our home and work lines were busy (because at that moment
Ian and I were talking to each other), then finally got a hold of us.
The paramedics were efficient and very nice. They recommended we
take an ambulance to Children’s Hospital. They asked me if I thought as
his mom I could get Quinn to wake up.
I squeezed his hand and said his name. His eyes opened a little as
if he were very sleepy, then closed again. I kept talking to him and he
opened his eyes a little more. The first thing that got him to respond
to me? When I asked him if he knew what should be arriving in the mail
today or tomorrow. He answered quietly, eyes still shut, “Latin Is Fun
Book I.” *
Eventually Quinn was awake enough to climb into my lap. He was not
very responsive to the paramedics and their questions, but he also
doesn’t like crowds or being the center of attention, so we assured
people this didn’t look out of character to us, even though he wasn’t
showing the kind of energetic signs that they would find promising. He
was happy to get onto the rolling bed they needed to strap him to for
the ride in the ambulance. They gave him a truly all-purpose bracelet
that neither of us were crazy about:
last time Quinn was in the hospital
it was for dehydration as a result of his being sick. Quinn’s been
sick for about a week, but seemed to be doing much better. He had one
night of fever several days ago, was fine in the morning, and has just
had a lingering cough but not bad enough to keep him from doing his
normal routine. Until today. He hadn’t had anything to drink, and had
eaten only a small bite of toast. Quinn isn’t much of a breakfast
person and often doesn’t feel like eating. Starting tomorrow we will
make sure he at least has a cup of juice and a bite of something before
we send him off to school, even if he’s not in the mood.
The Children’s Hospital here is very good, and people were helpful,
but Quinn was back to his old self by the time we got a room there. Ian
met us, and brought me my laptop and DVD’s for Quinn to watch if we
needed them. Our son was understandably a low priority, as he should
have been compared to other children I saw there, but we waited for over
three hours before we gave up on seeing the last doctor. Nurses
listened to him breathe, his blood sugar was perfect, his blood pressure
was back to normal, a doctor said she didn’t have an explanation but
that Quinn seemed fine to her, and that was enough.
We played I Spy until everything there was to spy with our little
eyes had been spied. Quinn ate animal crackers, saving the best animals
for last (those being the owl, the turtle, and a mystery animal he
decided was a beaver). We made him drink some juice, and he even had a
Pop Tart that Ian had brought along. But it was time to go home and
pick our other children up from school and get some real food into
Quinn. If I really felt the last doctor was likely to say something new
we would have stayed, but I just didn’t think it was worth making our
day even more complicated than it had already been. I never made it to
work (my assistant filled in for me–thanks Robyn!), I didn’t get any of
the projects or errands done when I was expecting to do them…. Hell, I
never even got properly dressed. It was time to go home.
I told Quinn I wasn’t going to go in to work, that I was just going
to stay with him for the afternoon, and he cheered. He read me his
books about butterflies, dolphins and goldfish that we picked up at the
last book fair. He ate an egg and some toast. He drew on his white
board and talked and jumped and danced and did all his regular Quinn
things. He was just my sweet boy, like nothing had happened.
So now I’m both relieved and wary. I’m glad Quinn is fine. No, I’m
thrilled beyond measure that he’s fine. But, what was that? The whole
episode has left me anxious and uncertain. Quinn looks great now, but
I’m afraid to let him out of my sight. I don’t think he will faint
again anytime soon, but since we don’t know for sure what caused it,
it’s not safe to make predictions. But I suppose that’s true of
parenting all the time anyway.
* An explanation about Quinn and “Latin Is Fun Book I”: Quinn reads
so well for a four-year-old my mom suggested recently that maybe he
might like learning another language. I asked him what he thought, if
he’d like to learn Spanish or French or German…. He didn’t show any
interest until I told him there were also some old languages. We talked
about those for a minute and he decided on Latin. I have no idea what
he thinks it will mean to learn Latin or why that’s what he chose, but
we went online and looked up Latin books for kids and the one he wanted
was Latin Is Fun Book I. He was excited that there was also a Latin Is
Fun Book II available. We both wondered at what point Latin ceases to
Today I am just grateful that we will find out together.