Friday, December 10, 2010

Seizure #2

     Yesterday morning all of a sudden, something really hit me.  The doctor had used the word "benign" on Tuesday!  It had finally sunk deep into my heart, and the joy and reality of that caused this huge smile to spread across my face.  Even though the doctor had said it, I don't think it really sunk in because in my mind I just kept thinking about the fact that there is still a tumor/abnormality/mass/growth -- whatever you want to call it -- in his brain, and there were still a lot of unanswered questions about why he had the seizure and where to go from here with that.  The word "benign," though, was truly a cause for celebration because all of a sudden that meant we could probably safely rule out the word "cancer!"  One burden had definitely been lifted from us!

     Heath had the last of his five finals on Wednesday and was so pleased to have made it through the semester with a 4.0 GPA!  Praise the Lord for that!  We celebrated with an apple pie on Wednesday night, and Thursday morning I took him to the chiropractor for an adjustment.  He's been struggling with his shoulder and ribs since the first seizure, so he was glad to be all tuned up again.  He has about a month off from school now and is working on finding a job close to home.  In the meantime he needs to find ways to fill his time, so when I left for the office Thursday afternoon, he was working in the garage on a shelving unit for his room, and he had a power tool in his hands.  The words, "Are you sure you'll be okay," came spilling out of my mouth, and about the time I said it, I almost regretted it because I'm sure he gets really tired of my overprotectiveness lately.  We both know full well that while, yes, we do need to be wise, we do also need to just let go and let God take care of him. 

     Harris invited Heath to go along to some annuity training at the other Primerica office at 5 p.m., so while they were both there, I took advantage of our quiet office setting and was trying to get some work done before heading home.  I was in the middle of faxing one set of documents and scanning another when my brother-in-law Vance called my cell phone at 6:15.  He said, "Heath just had a seizure, and you're going to want to come quickly."  All my paperwork ended up in a pile, the candle was blown out, the radio turned off, everything got locked up, and away I went with tears and prayers.  The traffic was backed up on River Drive, which forced me to take unfamiliar streets in the dark, and phone calls were being made trying to figure out what all was going on with Heath as well as the other kids.  Haley was working, but Kelsey and Keaton were here at the house with Jenny. 

     Evidently in the middle of training, Heath started feeling a little bit dizzy, and just that fast, he was falling off the side of his chair and started convulsing.  He doesn't remember hitting the floor.  Even though Harris had never witnessed a seizure, he was able to calmly tell everyone that's what was happening, and people just started clearing the area of chairs as Heath continued on for probably a minute.  Once he stopped, they rolled him over on his side, but he started turning all shades of blue, and for a bit he wasn't even breathing.  There was at least one nurse in the room, and someone called 911.  When the paramedics got there, they got him started on an IV and tried to get an oxygen mask on him, but he resisted all their efforts.  I'm told it was a very scary and somber situation and that after Heath was carried out on the stretcher, everyone eventually gathered there and just prayed together for him and all of us.  Praise God that he was in a safe place when this happened and for many work friends who share the same faith that we do.  Praise God too for the gift of some family in the area who are always quick to come to our aid whenever we need something.

     By the time I got to the hospital at 6:36, Heath was not even there yet.  Harris followed the ambulance there, and once I saw them all drive in, staying at the check-in desk was not an assignment I could obey.  As they pulled him out of the ambulance and got him situated in a room, he still looked a little out of it, but it wasn't too much longer before he was able to start conversing with us.  He does remember kind of waking up in the ambulance but has no recollection from the time he felt dizzy until then.  His shirts were wet with sweat, so we managed to get those off, and the nurses started attaching things to him.  His tongue was bit up but not quite as badly as it was the first time he seized.  The girls had grabbed my whole folder of all his medical records before heading to the hospital, so it was nice to be able to hand all of that to the attending physician.  Vance went to our house to grab his bottle of pills so we could count them out and determine whether or not he had taken his dose the night before.  He had, but it was taken much later than usual, so the combination of a late dose, a shortened night of sleep, and stress from finals all week probably hadn't been a good combination.  Blood work was done, and the doctor was alarmed by the 2.7 level of Dilantin in him.  A normal therapeutic range would have been 10 to 20. 

     After spending a couple of hours in the ER, we were all sent home with instructions to Heath to rest, relax, and do nothing for the next 24 hours and with instructions to me to follow up with his seizure doctor in Iowa City today.  He had taken some Tylenol for a headache while in the ER, but everything within him ached last night.  He was able to eat a little without too much trouble when he got home.  He fell asleep earlier than usual and is still sleeping soundly this morning.  We're planning to have someone here with him all day long just to keep his spirits up if nothing else. 

     Harris was quite distraught over the whole situation last night.  It's very scary to watch your son go through something like that and know that you can't do one thing to stop it or help him.  His 6 months of no driving will probably start all over again now, and Harris just feels so badly for him.  It's so tempting to be angry and ask God why this all has to be happening, but Kelsey sent me a little message last night that said, "Don't ask why; ask what."  What is God's plan through all of this?  What is He doing?  She also sent me a link to the song "Everything Falls," and through my tears I've been listening to it this morning.  The reality of the situation is starting to sink in more with me this morning.  We're just going to have to keep hanging on and letting God's arms hold us together.  He is the only hope for our weary hearts.  When our strength is gone, we'll find Him mighty and strong, and we'll just keep holding on. 


  1. Jacki - thank you for sharing your heart so openly. Just prayed for you and your family. Oddly enough your family came up in small group last night in a converstaion about Primerica and insurance, then and Keaton's name came up (we have a couple expecing in a few weeks and they don't have a name picked out so the name Keaton came up). Anyway, all that to say I just cried out to God for your family and will continue to do so. Praise God for your daughter's perspective, encouragement and gentle reminder to seek the WHAT behind the WHY. We will continue to pray...Steve, Kinsey & Cohen Christin

  2. Jacki,
    I am so sorry that all of this is happening. I will be praying for Heath and for your family. Thanks for the updates.
    --Angie Lomas (Watts)

  3. Prayers are definitely coming your way. Kelsey's message to you seems so insightful to me....I'm sure it will come to my mind many more times during my lifetime. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the powerful yet mysterious ways that God brings His Kingdom into our broken lives. I love seeing how your family becomes even stronger with each turn. And thank you for being an inspiration as you turn to our Father with each fear and each frustration. Love you guys!

  4. Ah, friend! So sorry to hear of Heath's seizure! You've been in my prayers, and I'll continue to pray for your family.
    I, too, would like to take note of the wisdom of Kelsey! "Don't ask why; ask what..." I would like to ask "where?" Where did she get her wisdom? I suspect it comes from her parents, her siblings, her church... thanks for sharing it with us!