A parent’s nightmare; a brother’s love
A parent’s nightmare; a brother’s love
By Desirée Botha
I am not a doctor. I am not qualified to tell anyone all the reasons why a child has fits. But I can tell you about one of the scariest days in my sister’s life.
My mom, sister and I were together that morning and my sisters’ two children were playing. They both had had a slight cold the previous week but they were obviously feeling much better that day. My niece was 2 years old and my nephew 4 at the time.
We then went our separate ways; my sister and the children went home. My sister was reading when suddenly, something about my niece drew her attention. She was just staring up at the ceiling. My sister spoke to her but she did not respond. Before my sister could react, my niece’s eyes rolled back into her head and she started to shaking and having convulsions. She was having a fit. Her whole body stiffened and then started to twitch. There was foam coming out of her mouth and her entire body kept on having spasms.
This had never happened before and all my sister knew was that she had to get her daughter to the hospital. She raced to the car but only once there did she realize that she had no car keys and her son was still in the house. Charmingly, as she turned back, there her 4-year old son was behind her with the car keys in his hand.
My sister strapped my nephew into the car and put my niece on his lap so that he could keep her upright. Then she rushed to the hospital. Luckily, there was one close by. But it still felt like it took forever to get there! We are very religious and the entire time she was driving, she heard her son praying to God to help his sister. My nephew kept his sister upright and kept updating his mother on exactly what was happening. That 4 year old boy was a champ that day!
When they got to hospital, the nurses took over and my sister phoned us and her husband. At that stage, all we knew was that my niece was having trouble breathing and that she wasn’t responsive. That was one of the longest car rides of my life.
When we got to the hospital, my niece was responding but very weak. As far as the doctors could tell, she had a sudden spike in her temperature and this resulted in the fit.
My parents and I concentrated on my nephew who was still very scared for his sister. There wasn’t much else we could do for my niece but wait. They couldn’t yet tell us if she had any damage from the fit or whether she would have another one.
After a while we decided to take my nephew home and get him cleaned up while his parents stayed with his sister in hospital.
It was a long day. We were playing with him, building blocks, letting him ride his bicycle, drawing and anything else we could think of to keep him busy and hopefully distracting him. All the while we were still very worried about my niece.
He was worried about his sister too, so we went back to see her and so that my nephew could also see that she was okay. She was sitting up in bed, happy with all the attention and having no idea why we were all fussing around her. My nephew got teary eyed when he saw her and just kept on hugging her and asking her if she was okay. Since she couldn’t really remember what had happened she just kept saying yes and smiling at him. She was not really sure why he was upset.
My niece is now almost 6 years old and has never had a fit again or suffered any ill effect from that one.
My nephew remains my hero.
For more information on fever fits and other medical emergencies in children, always go to the clinic or hospital urgently, and talk with a doctor. The following websites provide interesting reading:
For information about emergency contacts in your area, go to:
There are lots of NGOs and private companies that teach emergency first aid. The Red Cross is one of them: www.redcross.org.za/index.php/training/training
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