Sometimes you have to tell stories over and over again until you are done with them, until they don’t have the same charge for you, until you finally feel transformed in the telling of it, she told me.
This is one of those stories.
We were having a fabulous time at the Academy of Sciences Friday when I suddenly noticed that Ben’s eyes were goopy. Oh Lord, I thought, he’s just getting over this cold and now pink eye! And of course, by reflex, my eyes started to itch too… Ugh, off to see the doctor.
The pediatrician just called in some drops for Ben, but my own doctor insisted I come in to be checked out. I almost never go to the doctor, and it was weird for me to go on this preemptive run, but I figured since it was Friday I should play it safe.
I turned around for a moment while I was being weighed in the exam room, and when I turned back around Ben was on the floor on his back. I didn’t see him fall but I lifted him up and he looked dazed. It was strange that he wasn’t crying… and I was immediately concerned he was having a febrile seizure again. (This happened almost exactly one year ago) He’s not okay! I said to the nurse and she looked at me like I was out of my mind, scary, over-protective weirdo mom. He just fell and was looking for you… she said, just short of rolling her eyes.
And then he came out of it, and was fine, so I let it go, silently admonishing myself for being too reactive.
After my appointment Ben was delighted to get out of there. He ran down the hallway gleefully to the elevator and I scooped him up and we got in. He even pushed the button for the parking garage. Suddenly, I felt Ben leap out of my arms. I grabbed him to hold him close and just like in the movies, his trains flew in the air in a slow motion hurtle toward the metal doors. He started convulsing violently in my arms. His eyes were fluttering and he was shaking all over. When the doors to the elevator opened, I held him and ran, trying not to cry, saying to him over and over, I got you baby. You’re going to be okay. I got you. I got you, You’re okay.
Now here is the proof that I have angels watching out for me.
When Ben started convulsing we were 100 feet from the doors to the emergency room. My doctor’s office happens to be across the street from the entrance. I ran as fast as I could, somehow found some back door and handed him to the first doctors I saw. He’s having a seizure! I pleaded… And before I knew it there were five doctors around him, giving him oxygen, putting in an IV, sticking monitors on him, the works.
There was a receptionist in the room trying to get my information down, his name, our insurance, etc. and I had to write everything down because I couldn’t form the words, and even though I was only a few feet from Ben, I felt such a strong pull to him, to touch him, it was almost unbearable to be across the room, his bare little body still convulsing on the table. Those 2 or 3 minutes that he was seizing were the longest minutes of my life.
And then suddenly, he was calm. His pale little body, tubes all over, fever of 103, cold rags on his forehead… he was okay. We stayed for a couple more hours to be sure that his fever went down, and eventually, his crabbiness assured me he was feeling better. He tried to pull off the monitors, wanted to GET DOWN, and was delighted to be offered apple juice that wasn’t diluted like at home. Score! They even gave him a teddy bear which went over famously.
As we walked out of the hospital Ben and I had this conversation:
Ben: Dat was fun.
Me: Oh Ben, that wasn’t fun. Do you know what fun means?
Me: Okay, maybe it was fun.
Ben: Dat was fun.
Then, as I set him in the carseat, I said, You know, mama was scared. Then he looked me in the eyes, Ben scared.
Yeah, we were both scared.
Ben fell asleep immediately when we got home. And me, I was shell-shocked, felt the experience on such a visceral level that I had to tell the story over and over to let it out. I called Matt who was out of town, I told it to the neighbors, I called friends, I cried and cried.
And now I tell it here, in hopes that this will be the last little pressure valve. Thanks for listening everybody.
P.S. When Ben woke up the next morning there were no signs of pink eye at all. It’s as if the pink eye thing was all a ruse and the universe was just arranging for us to be at the doors of the ER at exactly the right moment. I am still amazed by this.
P.S.S. Ben is feeling good… we just might have to go through this at regular intervals until he is 5 years old, which feels like an eternity right now. We also might have to go through a battery of tests. Parenthood is not for the faint of heart, is it?