PREGNANCY DIARY: Fevers, Flu and Febrile Seizures

Get your Flu Shot Yo!

30 weeks and counting, 4 weeks of bed rest under the belt – I’ts hard to believe it’s been a week since our most frightening experience as a parent. If you’ve been following my tweets, you might have caught bits and pieces of my son’s frightening seizure episode last week and our subsequent hospitalization which led to a later diagnosis of the Flu.  Yesterday was his first fever-free day and the first-time I could finally breathe again in a week filled constantly and aggressively fighting his high temperatures which hovered around 102°F rectally regardless of any intervention, with M in our bed every night, in hopes to ward off another febrile seizure.

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SATURDAY 9:30 PM – One exhausted, pregnant mother (me) decided to go to bed early.  Could not convince the 3 year old to sleep and gave up.

11:00 PM – One overly tired 3 year old finally wanted to go to bed.  Mom thought he felt a little warm and took M’s temperature – 100.0°F temporal, repeated it – 99.0°F.  For the first time in my life, I took the conservative route and decided to let him sleep it off as a true temp is clinically defined as anything above 100.4°F at my hospital.  Fevers are the body’s way of fighting infections and killing bacteria.  I thought I would let it do it’s job.  As fate would have it, husband, not ready for bed yet, staying up to watch more TV, promised to move M to his bed later that night, if I let M just fall asleep with me.  We had been battling for the last 6-7 months moving him to his own bed to no avail.  This was not a step in the right direction but I was too tired and in too much pain to argue.

SUNDAY 2:40 AM – Asleep, turned on my side as usual to protect the belly, my little snuggle-puff M always pressed up tightly against my back, I felt a trembling behind me.  I tried to shrug him to stop.  I, still half sleeping, heard a weird breathing pattern and the trembling hadn’t stopped.  I quickly turned around and immediately knew something was very very wrong.  My son’s eyes were fixed, and he was still shaking.  I turned him onto his back and noticed he was drooling.  I called his name, I shook him.  I, looked and saw that both his left hand and foot were clenched, his foot was turned in.  He was having a seizure.  I screamed for my husband who was in the bathroom.  He ran out, grabbed M and brought him into the light.  He saw he was pale.

2:43 AM – I dialed 911 and stayed on the line with the operator.  My husband brought M down to the living room calling his parents to help.  Everyone tried to stir M.  He was still shaking and still clenched.  His eyes were now fixed to the left. I took his temperature – 98.0°F temporal.

2:53 AM  –  Ambulance was still not here.  M was still unresponsive, still trembling, still clenched.  My in-laws were getting frantic and agitated asking over and over again why it was taking so long for the ambulance to get here.  I dialed 911 again only to learn they still didn’t have an ambulance dispatched.  I was told it was a busy night.  The operator dispatched the police and fire department.

2:55 AM – M finally moves his eyes and relaxes.  He doesn’t say a word.  He doesn’t look at anyone calling his name.  He just darts his eyes about.  But the trembling shakes have stopped.  He has moved onto the postictal state.

3:00 AM – The fire department arrives first on scene.  They don’t do anything but ask for information.  They say EMT are on their way.

3:05 AM – The police arrive with EMT following behind them.  M is assessed and prepared for transport to the hospital.

3:35 AM – Arrived at hospital.

3:57 AM – During his assessment, M awakens from postictal state and calls out, “Mama, Mama!” and reaches out for me.  I immediately breathe a sigh of relief.  This was my son again.  His temp – 102.6°F rectally.


M2The initial diagnosis was a febrile seizure, but what stumped both the doctors and I was that typically febrile seizures were generalized (bilateral) in nature. Meaning it would exhibit as a total body seizure — not a one-sided, in this case, left-sided seizure.  I had the pleasure of an EMT who thought it would be fun to test my medical knowledge asking me if I thought it was a Gran Mal seizure or a Petit Mal seizure.  When I tried to shake off my own confusion and make sense of my observations because really it was neither to me, I muttered that I don’t typically deal with seizure patients and couldn’t make that call.  His response was of challenge, “Don’t you deal with pre-eclamptic patients?”  Of course I do, but haven’t had any of them progress to seizures.  It was the most irritating part of an already traumatic experience.

It was later redefined as a complex focal febrile seizure with the doctors agreeing that it was neither a Gran Mal or a Petit Mal or a tonic-clonic seizure (don’t you just love when they throw out big frightening words at you?).  Because M had a pre-existing condition, an arachnoid cyst on this left temporal lobe combined with this complex focal seizure, we were admitted for observation and testing to rule out something more serious.   This is when my husband and I started going over the timeline, were we sure we saw what we saw?  It was 3 AM in the morning, we were tired, he was tired.  I was dead sure though.  My cellphone log kept pretty accurate timing for me and I could stamp everything to those two frustrating 911 calls.

During his 3-day hospitalization, he was subjected to countless tests as they ruled out meningitis with a spinal tap, viruses with blood work and blood cultures, urine analysis for any chemical imbalances and  a 25-minute EEG where he had to stay completely still.  That was a feat unto itself and I thank whoever invented the iPad.  He had a nasal swab on day-2 after an intern thought he might have an upper respiratory infection, and subsequently put on contact isolation.  He had an MRI to assess damage, rule out any brain bleeds and also to see if the arachnoid cyst had grown.  He continued to battle elevated temperatures with overlapping acetaminophen (tylenol) and ibuprofen (motrin or advil) the entire stay and the many days following.

We moved three times during our stay, which you can imagine was quite disruptive.  From the ER to a two-bedded room to a 4-bedded room and finally to a contact isolation room where he was finally diagnosed with an active case of the Flu.  Despite that relieving diagnosis, we were still hospitalized until we could get his MRI as the flu diagnosis didn’t explain the complex focal part of the seizure.  We hoped and prayed that his cyst had not grown and this was nothing more than a febrile seizure related to the flu.

M was NPO for most of his hospitalization, which means “nil per os”, nothing by mouth and on IV fluids only as he waited patiently for his MRI for over 48 hours.  It was heartbreaking as he watched, me,  his very pregnant mother eating, begging me every few minutes to eat and drink.  He deserved a big reward for being such a trooper and expressing nothing more than a little disappointment every time we said no.  Each day our frustration grew as we moved further and further down the MRI schedule and eventually to a not very believable, “definitely tomorrow” message.  It gave M a very tiny window to eat before he became NPO again at midnight as he was often exhausted from the days events and lack of food or water.  He was so parched from the dry air in the hospital and had countless nose bleeds during our stay.  We had to ask for saline nebulizer treatments just to provide him with some moisture.  It was the least we could do, and all I could think about was, all those families who didn’t know to ask for such comforts for their children.

He was subjected to, not one IV insertion but two.  A resident was taught a valuable lesson on sterile technique after I calmly requested a completely new IV insertion after he tried to save my son’s first IV in the most unsanitary way, unbeknownst to him that I was a nurse.  I didn’t say much more than that it was unacceptable period, regardless if I was a nurse or not, to break sterility for an IV line as I watched heart-breaking, my poor son, kicking and thrashing through a second IV insertion.

Despite all this, after the MRI results came back and it was told to us that the arachnoid cyst remained the same size as last years scans (having doubled in size the previous year) and M simply just had a complex focal seizure related to the flu, we were overjoyed.  He was given a script for Tamiflu and we were finally going home.  M continued to fight elevated fevers all week and as I mentioned before we finally have been fever-free for 24 hours.  I still continue to check his temperature regularly (checked twice already since I woke up) out of paranoia but ever so grateful it was just the flu.


While the entire family got the flu shot, M never got the flu shot because of his severe egg and dairy allergy.  Hence why he was the only one afflicted.  While this year’s strain seemed particularly nasty, the Flu vaccine definitely was effective in preventing or lessening symptoms.  At one point there was concern about me being pregnant and exposed but I had been vaccinated and I had nothing more than one episode of chills, a low-grade fever which might have gone un-noticed otherwise and a few sniffles.  On Tuesday, March 5th at 1PM EST, I will be co-hosting a twitter party  with @CDCFlu@theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe and @EmilyMcKhann discussing the important of getting the Flu vaccine and how you can continue to protect yourself and your family.  I hope you’ll join me in discussing this very important topic.

#CDCFlu Twitter party details

What: How long is flu season? When is the best time to receive the flu vaccine? What are healthy flu-fighting habits to teach children? We’ll be answering these questions and more during this informative Twitter party! The Motherhood is joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in their mission to create the expertise, information, and tools that people and communities need to protect their health. Join us to share and listen to helpful health tips for your family!

When: Tuesday, March 5, 1 p.m. ET (the party will last one hour)

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #CDCFlu hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Twtvite:

Hashtag: #CDCFlu

Hosts:  @CDCFlu@theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe and @EmilyMcKhann

TweetGrid for the party:

For more information: Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at fabulous fellow co-hosts

Amy , Coffee With The Mrs., – @TheMrsC
Andrea, Li’l Kid Things, – @AndreaUpdyke
Brett, This Mama Loves, – @brettbmartin
Cherise, Mom and More, – @mamasmoney
Christy, Quirky Fusion, – @quirkyfusion
Connie, Brain Foggles, – @ConnieFoggles
Elena, Live.Do.Grow., – @ElenaSonnino
Fadra, All Things Fadra, – @allthingsfadra
Jenna, A Mom’s Balancing Act, – @MomBalancingAct
Jen, Mommy Instincts, – @mommyinstincts
Jennifer, Eighty MPH Mom, – @EightyMPHMom
Jodi, Mom’s Favorite Stuff, – @JodiGrundig
Katherine, Our Whiskey Lullaby, – @KBWhiskey
Nichol, Kiddie’s Corner Deals, – @KiddiesCorner
Piera, Jolly Mom, – @JollyMom
Sarah, Sarah & Sons, – @Sauerswald
Sarah, Sarah’s Cucina Bella, – @SarahWCaron
Shannon, The Mommy-Files, – @themommyfiles
Suzanne, Mom Confessionals, – @momconfessional
Tamara, MomRN, – @MomRN