Monday, October 4, 2010

The Seizure

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 ~

     It started out as a fairly typical Wednesday morning.  Wake-up times and breakfast options were varied, and family members were coming and going.  Our home consists of six individuals who have very different schedules from day to day, and it takes a lot of effort to stay on top of who has to be where and when on any given morning.  My husband, Harris, and I are both self-employed and run a Primerica office, so we are thankful for the flexibility we have in our schedules.  Our youngest, Keaton, is a 5th grader who goes to school just a short distance from our home, but every single morning is different for him because of his musical and academic commitments that take place before school.  Our daughters, Kelsey and Haley, a freshman and a senior, are on the swim team, so depending on whether it’s a weightlifting or a swimming morning, they go to school at different times, and then Haley even comes and goes a couple more times throughout the morning.  Our oldest son, Heath, was at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for a year and a half, but after taking last semester off from school, he has resumed his college education at Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa, where he is majoring in business.  His start time varies from day to day as well, but he usually takes time to wolf down some eggs, bacon, and juice before leaving for his 40-minute commute to school. 

     On this particular Wednesday morning when Heath came downstairs, I happened to be on the phone with my sister-in-law.  Harris’s grandmother had passed away the day before, so we were discussing potential funeral plans for the weekend.  We had also just lost Harris’s father to cancer two weeks prior to this, so it seemed pretty unreal to us that so much was happening in the Westerkamp family, and we were all feeling rather weary.  (Feel free to check out my other blog if you want more details on what all had been happening prior to this point in time.  It had definitely been a September to remember.)  My phone conversation that I was having in my office was interrupted briefly as he stood out of my sight by the front door.
     “Bye, Mom.”
     “Don’t you want something for breakfast?”
     “No, I’m not really hungry.”
     “Okay.  See you later!  I’ll pray for you.”

     That wasn’t totally uncommon, so I didn’t think anything of it.  He was gone for the day, and I didn’t expect to see him again until he arrived home after working his new job as a farmhand that he was very excited to have. 

     When he walked in the door at 3 p.m., I was quite surprised, and I asked him why he was home so early.  He proceeded to tell me that he hadn’t felt well all day and that he had been really light-headed.  Harris and I had both been kind of light-headed since his dad’s funeral, and I assumed that it was just stress or, in my case, a lack of iron, so I figured I could give Heath the same iron supplements that had helped me, and he would be on top of it again.  But then he told me that he must have slept funny on his right arm because it had really bothered him all day as well.  It struck me rather odd that something like that would still be bothering him that many hours later, but I was ready to dismiss it.  Next he told me that he must have bitten his tongue really badly while he was sleeping, so I had him show me.  As soon as I saw what you’ll see in these next two pictures, you’ll understand why this mom’s mind suddenly became very concerned. 

     All of a sudden, all of these symptoms were alerting me that something had gone drastically wrong with him at some point.  Then he told me that when his girlfriend, Jenny, had called him that morning, he had been very confused with her on the phone.  He didn’t know what day it was or whether or not he had class that day or when his classes were or anything.  He also told me that he had had a hard time focusing on anything at school that day.  At that point I KNEW that he needed to be seen by someone.  Had I known all this before he left for school, he would have NEVER been let out the door.

     Haley and I had already made a visit to our regular doctor earlier that day because of an ear challenge she was having, but when we called the clinic, we found that he was already gone for the day.  We were told that our doctor could see him the next morning or that Heath could visit the walk-in clinic.  Heath tried to convince me that he should take a nap first, but after a little prodding, we were on our way.  We finally saw a nurse practitioner, and after much questioning, she verified what I had suspected:  a potential seizure.  She advised us that he should be seen in the ER for some testing, so we made our way over to Genesis and made a few phone calls to alert family members as to what we were learning and doing and figure out some alternate plans for the evening and for the swim team breakfast I was supposed to serve at 7 a.m. the next morning.  Harris, Haley, and Jenny all ended up joining us at the hospital. 

     The night was full of waiting for procedures to be started and results to be obtained, and his story was told repeatedly to every single healthcare professional who entered the room.  It amazed me how many times he had to answer that, no, he had not been partying, drinking, or using drugs and, no, he had not had a head injury.  By the time the night was over, the blood work, the urine test, the EKG, the CAT scan of his head, the X-rays of his shoulder, every test they had done, had come back normal.  He had been asked at one point if he had wet himself, and at that moment he had the oddest look come over his face.  He had not remembered doing so up until that point, but he responded with a mystified, “You know, maybe I did.”

     We had a little fun joking about that, and everyone was in pretty good spirits in the room until the reality of the situation was delivered to Heath by the doctor. 

     “We think you have had a seizure, and because of that, you will need to stay away from bathtubs and pools or any bodies of water.  Also, you will not be allowed to drive or operate heavy machinery for six months. “  The boom had been dropped on our very independent and self-sufficient 20-year-old son, and there was a hush that came over the room accompanied by very scared and anxious looks on our faces.  This was not only bad news for him but for all of us because we knew our lives were now drastically changed, and questions were popping up in our heads even more so than before she told us this news.  We had been told already by the walk-in clinic professional that medication is not given after a first-time seizure, and this doctor confirmed that. 

     We finally left the hospital around 10:30 p.m. with very heavy hearts and a very hungry young man who happened to have a very sore tongue.  We were told we could purchase an oral cleanser called Gly-Oxide that would help heal his tongue faster, but my trip to Wal-Mart in search of it was unsuccessful.  We all returned home and rearranged our schedules to accommodate our new reality.  We had been given instructions to see a neurologist the next day, and we were told that they would most likely want to run some more tests.  He found his little pile of wet laundry that he hadn’t remembered removing that morning, and we started realizing that it was only by the grace of God that he had safely made it to school and back that day. 

1 comment:

  1. Keep us all informed. We will pray for God's wisdom and protection over your family and especially Heath. We're praying that you will sense the almighty hand of God holding your family tight during the coming days!
    Sue Van Hal