Friday, April 29, 2005

The Seizure Story

No, Joseph did not experience a seizure. Thank God.

But I did hear of another diabetic child who did.

On Tuesday night I attended a local JDRF support group meeting that began with folks talking about problem foods. You know the ones that send your kid’s sugars through the roof, and keep them up there way beyond their (and your) comfort zone. Well, after listening to a number of these stories, I chimed in with our recent attempt to bring Indian food back into Joseph’s repertoire of “foods we know how to bolus for.” Clearly, I was overconfident. But we were having a lot of success in matching bolus amount, time and duration with other challenging foods. I really thought we were ready to tackle the Indian food.

And I was dead wrong.

Joseph was in the 300s three hours after he finished his meal. And he stayed there for over five hours– despite our attempts to correct. Luckily he did not spill any ketones. But it was a lousy night for everyone. The morning was not much better when Joseph discovered that he had had an accident overnight. And when you have a 2-year old sister who potty trained herself three months earlier, and hasn’t had a nighttime accident since, wetting the bed at 9 ½ is pretty harsh. He knows the reason. It’s nothing he can prevent. But I know it bothers the hell out of him just the same.

Everyone tried to give suggestions on how to handle the Indian food quandary. Some said just eliminate it all together, but the kid loves the stuff. We all do. And I’m determined to make it work. For now, we just won’t give it to him at night– when he’ll be inactive for hours following the meal.

Anyhow, the meeting continued with all of us talking and thinking about those things that push up our kid’s sugars– until Eileen, the group leader, said quietly “Sean had a seizure.”

Everyone stopped talking.

She continued in a low, shaky voice. “He’s never had one before. It really caught us off guard. It happened early in the evening. He’d been out playing golf earlier that day – Sean is on the high school golf team, you know. He wasn't any more active than usual. He didn't eat any more or less than he typically has in a given day." Eileen shook her head as she said these things. She stopped talking a moment.

Then, as if suddenly remembering that we were all there in the room with her, she went on.

"My husband was walking by his bedroom and heard a gurgling sound coming from inside. He opened the door and saw Sean lying there, saying nothing, but making these awful sounds. He called me into the room.

We tried to get him to eat something. We even offered him chocolate– and that’s when we knew it was serious because he didn’t respond. And Sean LOVES chocolate. Next we tried to put cake icing in his mouth, but it didn’t seem to do anything. Finally, I realized we needed to give him the glucagon.

My husband said “Do you know how to do that? Because I don’t have any idea.”

I ran, got the kit – and thank god I had just practiced doing this recently with an expired kit, because I knew exactly what to do. I injected the liquid into the powder, shook the vial, and drew the combined solution into the syringe.

Then I panicked a little. I knew I had to give it to him in a muscle, but I couldn’t remember if it had to be in his buttock or thigh, or if I could give it to him in his arm. Sean’s a big kid. And in the state he was in, I thought it would take a while to get his pants down. My husband quickly looked through the instructions and found that we could give it in the arm. I gave Sean the shot, and within minutes he was back. We still called 911. The paramedics didn’t want to move him right away. They wanted to be sure that he hadn’t had an epileptic seizure. Eventually we made it to the ER where they observed him for several hours to make sure his blood sugar came up and stayed up. We still don't know exactly how low Sean's blood sugar was at the time of the seizure, but right after we gave him the glucagon we checked him-- he was 50.”

It was very quiet after Eileen finished talking. After all, she had just described an experience that every one of us feared more than almost anything else connected with this disease-- the moment when your child's life is at stake and YOU have to act quickly and correctly in order to prevent brain damage or death.

Up to that point I'd tried to avoid even thinking about the seizure possibility. But when I was finally able to speak, I asked Eileen if she'd brought any of those expired glucagon kits to this meeting.

She smiled, then passed out the kits.


Metal Raven said...

Wow.. That has to be one of the most horrifying situations in the world ( Eileen AND her son's situation, both, I mean ). I'm happy to hear that he came out okay, though. It sounds like an astonishingly close call.

God working His miracles, perhaps..?

Anyway, I forgot to mention this before, and it's off-topic, but I like how you describe and put-together these happenings into words. You have a knack for it. Perhaps, one day, you could publish yours, and Joseph's, life from around this time. I'm sure it would be an inspiration to others.

An inspiration for other writers, an inspiration to others with diabetes, or an inspiration for people to contribute to funds that partain to it. Either way, I believe it would inspire.

Of course, that's merely my opinion, and I'm only 15.. But, again, it sounded decent in my mind.

Keep up the good work.

Tekakwitha said...


Night time lows are probably the scariest thing about diabetes. It's one of the reasons I don't think I'd be comfortable living by myself. Just having a couple roommates around is comforting.

Curious, does your son have any special night time treats? When diagnosed my diabetes educator recommended this book: Understanding Diabetes by Dr. H. Peter Chase. The book was great for beginners (geared towards children). Anyway, my point is that it had a recipe for a night time snack to keep your blood sugar level through the night. It has peanut butter, cornstarch, honey mixed together and then rolled in cornflakes. The way I understand it is that the honey helps bring the blood sugar up a little, the cornstarch (long acting carb) and peanutbutter(protein) work together to keep it nice and steady.

It's worked well for me! I usually have one or two (depending) after an active day.


Sandra Miller said...

Right now, depending on Joseph's nighttime sugar, we give him about 1/4-1/2 cup of peanuts and one or two honey wheat braided pretzel sticks before bed. This seems to hold him quite well overnight, without making him go high.

It's good to hear about other bedtime snacks that can help prevent lows. I'd never heard of using cornstarch that way before... interesting.

Thanks for the input!

AmyT said...

Hi Sandra,
My heart and utmost respect go out to you parents of T1s! (see my post on Motherhood & Diabetes, btw)

I see that you found my blog. I'll be adding you to my blogroll as well. Have you connected with Shannon Lewis yet? She is also a stay at home mom with diabetic son, and also blogs it. See "Cure Mom" link on my blog.

Good health is my wish for you and your family!

Penny said...

Your posts always make me cry. Like I said on a previous comment, just a glimpse into the future. I hope Riley never has a seizure, but the possibility that it could happen terrifies me.