This is from a few years ago, but this is its first appearance on this blog.
She wouldn’t eat her french fries. I should’ve known something was up when the fries just sat there on her plate and she demanded rice. Who the crud prefers rice over fries? Not Cami.
“She didn’t get much of a nap in today,” My wife said.
“That’s weird,” I said.
After we left the restaurant, I set Cami down on the ground as soon as we entered the house and she dashed (in her own way) for her bedroom, following her big sister. Erin and I stayed in the living room so she could perform her wifely duty and point out my faux pas at dinner (lesson learned: don’t play iPod games at the table).
That’s wrong. We debated my table manners in the car on the way home. The conversation we had in the living room I can barely recall at all because everything that happened after leaving the restaurant is obscured by the memory of our oldest daughter Elora cackling in the hallway.
“That’s funny! Hahahaha! That’s funny, Cami!”
What was so funny? Elora just kept laughing. Erin’s curiosity moved more quickly than mine and she went to see what was going on. I started taking keys and change out of my pockets for my big, post dinner lay down.
“Brock! CALL 911!”
“What? Why?” Dang it, was my first thought. I really wanted to play Guitar Hero. Instead of grabbing the phone, I rushed over to see what was going on first. The Digital Guitar Gods demanded I find out if there was a chance Erin was overreacting.
Erin was crouched low over Cami, panicking. Cami had fallen, having lost control of her body. I knew this sight well. A year ago we were on our way to Los Angeles when by chance I looked over at Cami in the backseat, only to see her staring directly into the sun.
“Cami. Cami! Don’t look into the sun, sweetheart. Don’t do that. Cami! …Cami?”
Then I noticed that she wasn’t looking into the sun at all. She couldn’t, not with her eyes rolled into the back of her head. She was shaking, too. Every limb was flopping about like so many out-of-water fish. Now, in the hallway, she was doing it again.
For the first time in my life, I called 911. Cami has special needs. She’s too small for her age and can’t say but a few words. The best neurologists in San Francisco don’t know what’s wrong with her, but they told us if she ever had another seizure then we should call for an ambulance immediately. Sure, the first one was a febrile seizure (a common attack of the brain brought on by a sudden fever than happens to lots of young kids), but with Cami it could always be more than that. A seizure could be the sign of something horrible. A deterioration of her already puzzling physical and mental health.
“911. What is your emergency?”
“My daughter–she’s having a seizure! She’s very small and has special needs and she needs a hospital right away.”
The 911 operator confirmed my address and dispatched an ambulance immediatley. I gave real-time updates on the phone as Cami stopped shaking after about a minute and then lay very, very still. Erin stayed right with her. Knowing what was coming, she ordered Elora into her room to change into pajamas. She didn’t know where Elora would end up in all this, but it sure wasn’t going to be the hospital. Plus, it kept our laughing daughter busy.
The operator on the phone assured me that Cami was progressing out of her seizure just fine. I hung up the phone and went into the hallway. Erin scrambled to get ready to leave, putting her shoes back on. I took over with Cami, scooping her up into my arms and sitting with her on the floor of the hallway while she moaned and cried softly. I hadn’t cradled her with such trepidation since the day she was born. The look of confusion on her face broke my heart.
The dog and the cat were agitated. The sirens were getting close. That’s when it hit me.
“Erin! The dog! They’re here and the dog is out!” Elora, age 6 and freshly dressed in her PJ’s, walked by and stepped over us to make her way to the drama-free living room. “Elora, put Plato in his kennel!”
“How am I supposed to do that? I don’t know how! Sheesh.”
“What?” Erin shouted back from the bedroom.
“They’re HERE. The DOG!” Plato is a good dog, but he likes to greet all new visitors with a bark and a climb. That wasn’t going to happen. Erin got him into the kennel not five seconds before the men in their we’re-here-to-help-you suits knocked on the door.
Elora answered. “Hi!”
“Hi, sweetie. Can you tell us what’s going on here?”
“My sister fell down. She had a seizure in the hallway.”
They came in quickly, kneeling with speed and care in front of us. I thought of E.T. and how he was lying next to Elliott as the scary men in hazmat suits rushed in to take him away. Cami had just started saying her second word that week. “Da” or “Dada.” Now this? How fair was that? Can your brain be damaged by a seizure? Even frickin’ E.T. has a bigger vocabulary than her. There would be no magnificently huge tubes leading us from the door of the house to the ambulance.
Several questions were asked of me about Cami’s current state, all of which I answered on autopilot. I made sure to appear calm, but inwardly there was one thought that overtook all others: Please don’t let this be the one that takes her from us.