3 weeks ago my 15-year-old daughter and I were hanging out in the living room enjoying the last days of summer. She fell asleep in the recliner reading, and was resting peacefully. A mosquito had flown in the house when the pups came back in from their playtime outside, and it bit her while she was sleeping. She woke up with a loud OUCH! She looked around, highly annoyed and then drifted back off to sleep. A few minutes later, I looked over and her eyes were ticking up to the left.
“Is that mosquito back? I’m happy to swat it for you,” I said, and she replied, “No, why do you ask?”
“Because your eyes are twitching a bit.”
She replied, “That’s weird,” and then the most terrifying 10 minutes of my life as a parent began.
Her eyes rolled back in her head, her face contorted into a horrified grimace and she started convulsing.
She had no history of related medical issues — nothing like this had ever happened before.
I scrambled around trying to find a cell phone and once I had it in my hand, for an about 5 horrifyingly long seconds I forgot the number for 911. Let me repeat that.
I 👏 forgot 👏 the 👏 number 👏 for 👏 911.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the 90’s version of Little Rascals, but there’s a scene when 2 of the kids are running around looking for a pay phone because their clubhouse is on fire, and one says, “Quick! What’s the number for 911?!” I always laughed at that part. I’ll never laugh at it again.
I was so panicked that every thought beyond figuring out what I needed to do at that moment to save her life was gone. Including the 3 digit phone number for emergency services. It came back to me after a few seconds and I dialed it, but the realization that it even took that long to recall it seemed insane after the fact.
At that point, she started choking, foaming at the mouth, and turning blue. I was screaming at the 911 rep, rolling her to her side, pounding on her back while I was sobbing through choked breaths begging her to tell me what to do. Should I do CPR? Should I use my Epi-Pen on her? (I have an almond allergy, would that kill her if it wasn’t the issue?) Should I try the Heimlich? Should I give her an aspirin? Is that even the right thing to give for a heart attack in a kid? A stroke? Was she having a brain aneurysm? And then, every parent’s worst nightmare happened: She stopped breathing entirely and lay perfectly still.
For about 30 seconds I thought I’d actually lost my daughter forever, and I was completely numb with horror. The 911 rep calmly reassured me that the EMT was on the way, and that it sounded like she was having a grand mal seizure, and all of the things I was describing, even the blue tinge and the breathing issues, were normal. After what felt like an eternity she finally coughed and started taking in ragged breaths. She was still unconscious but started slowly regaining her normal hue.
At that point, the EMT arrived. Her seizure had gone on for 6 minutes, which I found out later is a very, very long time, as they’re only supposed to last for about 2. She came to for a few seconds, looked at me and then passed back out.
Long story short, an ER trip, EEG, CT Scan, EKG, and pediatric neurologist visit later, she was diagnosed as having frontal lobe seizures with instant generalization to the rest of the brain. As an added bonus, she was partially paralyzed on her left side afterward, but that was only temporary thankfully — she was able to move her limbs on both sides within a few hours. She was put on seizure meds that she may need to take for the rest of her life, and was given an emergency rescue med as well due to the severity.
I have NEVER been that terrified in my life. Ever. I hope to never experience that feeling again. Why am I going into great detail about one of the most traumatic experiences of my life?
Apple just launched the latest iteration of their watch. The internet poked quite a bit of fun at one of the new features: an emergency alert that is sent if someone falls and doesn’t get back up for a specified period of time.
I’m snapping one up the second they ship, because it could legitimately safe her life. You can’t schedule seizures. They can happen any time, anywhere, and as a parent, that thought is paralyzing. Having peace of mind that if it happens again and this time she’s not just across the room, I’ll be alerted and 911 will be contacted, is a gift that doesn’t have an earthly equivalent value.
My amazing coworker Kris did a killer podcast episode discussing this and other topics related to the launch, which triggered this post. He raised a great point: Just because a product that used to only cater to your demographic now contains features that don’t matter to you, don’t mock or discount the impact those features can have on other people’s lives.
If my daughter had had her first seizure while I was out of the house, she could have choked to death. This is not a faceless statistic — my own kid could have died. And there are so many others out there dealing with the same illness.
If it had happened while she was wearing the newest Apple watch, I would have been alerted and 911 would have automatically been called, and it would have saved her life.
A 15-year-old kid with no history of illness who just likes Apple products (not even close to the expected target demographic for this enhancement) could have been saved by this new feature.
Just because a safety feature doesn’t apply to you now, that doesn’t mean it won’t forever. We’re all just temporarily abled.