On the night of April 1st of this year, my 4.5-year-old daughter, Arden, had a seizure.
That week and even that day were completely normal. There were no red flags or anything that seemed off. As usual, we did our bedtime routine, and she drifted to sleep beside me.
I awoke to observe her a little restless, tossing and turning, but nothing unusual. I reached over in the dark and could feel she was sweaty, and I could hear her swallowing repeatedly. She had had a cough the last two weeks, and I thought maybe she was suppressing it.
Then I noticed her hand was placed over her mouth. Is she nauseous?
She then said to me, “Mommy, I’m hot.” And all this happened within seconds. I quickly turned on the light and found her completely unresponsive with a catatonic, glassy, blank stare — her head turned to one side. When I picked her up, she was completely limp.
I had no idea what had happened to her, but I knew she needed immediate medical care.
As my husband and I waited for the ambulance to arrive, we searched our minds and the house for any signs — did she get into cleaning products? Medicine?
Had she hit her head?
Millcreek Community Ambulance arrived within minutes, and the female EMTs were calm and diligent.
That ambulance ride was the most intense and horrible moment, as there were no answers to what was happening to her.
When we arrived at UPMC Hamot’s ER, they got to work on Arden with diligence and compassion. The work was frantic, and yet everyone seemed calm.
One of the female EMTs and several female nurses looked me in the eye and said, “I’m a mom, and we’re going to do everything for your daughter. She’s going to get through this.” I heard those words, but I don’t think I truly felt their absolute power until much later. UPMC Hamot stabilized her and got her vitals back to a normal range. Her coloring improved from pale to blush again.
The team at UPMC Hamot also worked behind the scenes to ensure Arden could be flown to UPMC Children’s Hospital that night. And they came through as she was prepped and taken by helicopter to UPMC Children’s Hospital in the middle of the night. I credit UPMC Hamot with saving her life and stabilizing her. The entire team was absolutely wonderful — kind, friendly, and steadfast with everything they did. The emergency room doctors, Dr. Griffith and Dr. Bell listened to me when I had a question or concern and acted accordingly. I had sent a short email to UPMC Hamot thanking them for the care Arden received, and Dr. Bell was kind enough to reply and ask about Arden.
After five days at Children’s Hospital, we were able to come home, and the very next day, we had to go back to the UPMC Hamot ER. Arden was experiencing headaches and vomiting — many of the care team that took care of her previously were there and remembered her. She was admitted for a few days more to UPMC Hamot and, once again, received very kind and intentional care.
We’re almost three months out from Arden’s seizure, and she is thriving and doing well. We have a protocol in place and are seeing other UPMC specialists to continue exploring her seizure.
I’ve always felt incredibly grateful and proud of the world-class care we have at UPMC Hamot, but that night I came to know first-hand how vital it is to have the proper care delivered at the right time and in the right place. I hope the children you love will never need emergency care, but if they do, I know that UPMC Hamot will do all they can for them.