Jul 17, 2006

The Rest of the Story

Before I give my version of the seizure, I have to give praise to God. He deserves so much praise and thanks. I have to thank him for giving Roger this seizure when he was at home and not at work, on the metro or driving. I have to thank God that I was with him and he was not alone. I have to thank him for this awesome country that cares enough about its citizens to employ paramedics and firefighters 24 hours a day. The paramedics were so professional and caring. And the emergency room staff was great. I also have to thank him for putting seizure information in my life over the past years to prepare me for it and that he kept me calm during the whole event. As I’ve said before, our God is an awesome God.

Next I have to apologize for the length of this post. Unbelievable! Sorry.

Now about this seizure...it was very scary. The feeling of helplessness and fear of not knowing what to do was scary. Next to Roger’s anxiety attacks in the hospital after the surgery, this was the freakiest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. With Roger’s anxiety attacks, no one could tell me what was happening and what could be done until Cassie got there and went through a night with me. She knew exactly what was going on. That’s how we knew they were anxiety attacks and were able to get him the help he needed. But this was my first seizure and I would have preferred to have been prepared, but Roger neglected to inform me that his last pill was Monday and he could possibly have a seizure. Thank God I noticed on Tuesday and Wednesday that he didn’t have a half pill in our pill organizer. That’s the only reason I knew when asked by the paramedics that he had finished his anti-seizure pills. Don’t you worry, Roger and I have discussed this communication slip. :)

So Roger and I talked for a bit and prayed before we went to sleep Thursday night. I’m usually a very deep sleeper. I can even sleep through most storms. But I woke up because I heard Roger make a loud “ugghh” sound like he usually does when he gets a leg cramp. I looked over at him and saw his arms out in front of him as if reaching towards his leg so I thought he was having a leg cramp. After a couple seconds of watching him and feeling the bed vibrating strongly, I realized it was more than just a leg cramp. I jumped onto my knees beside him and somehow there seemed to be a lot of light to see him and I began asking him questions. As I was asking him questions, I clearly remembering thinking to myself, “make sure he’s breathing, make sure his tongue doesn’t block his airway, make sure if he vomits, he doesn’t choke on his own vomit.” I got no response from him so I jumped off the bed and ran to his side of the bed so I could see him better. His face and body looked as if he was fighting the seizure, but I’m pretty sure he had no control over it and that’s just what happens when you have a seizure because of what’s happening to the brain. I took his pillow out from under his head because his face was pushing into the pillow and I didn’t want him to suffocate.

I continued to talk to Roger and ask him questions. I think I was thinking out loud more than expecting him to respond. Although I probably would have felt a little better if he had responded. I was questioning if and when to call 9-1-1 and what to do and stuff. There were some requests made to God through out all that too. The seizure lasted for about 20-30 seconds, give or take 5-10 seconds. I wasn’t paying attention to how long it lasted, but it wasn’t very long. The seizure stopped and I began to address Roger with the intent of getting a response from him. At first he didn’t move or talk and every time I began a statement his eyes would open very big and then they would immediately begin to close. I was worried he would go unconscious and then he would be in more trouble. I continued to talk to him to keep him awake as he moved his arms away from his body and uttered “Soooo” and immediately collapsed again. He made a couple smacking type moves with his mouth and I thought he was going to vomit. He opened his mouth fairly wide and I heard his jaw pop. A bunch of saliva came out of his mouth but no vomit. I thought there might be permanent damage to his brain and I decided I couldn’t wait anymore. I grabbed Roger’s phone which is always on his night stand and dialed 9-1-1. The operator answered with the usual spill which ends with “what’s your emergency?” I told him that my husband was having a seizure. He asked me for my address and phone number and if it was an apartment building. I answered and he said paramedics were on the way. Then he proceeded to assess the situation. He asked me if Roger was breathing then how his color was. He asked me about Roger’s prior medical condition. Somehow, I was able to stay completely calm, answer all his questions and not ramble on like a crazy lady. “He had a craniotomy on March 3rd for a brain tumor and seven weeks of radiation that ended three weeks ago. Is this his first seizure? This is his first full seizure. He only had small seizures in his right arm before. Does he have any other conditions? No, he’s healthy other than these. What medications is he taking? Keppra, Zyrtec, Naprocyn for back pain only when needed and he took two Aleve last night for a headache.” He asked me if I would be able to let the paramedics in the door and told me to watch Roger and if his condition changed at all to call right back.

I checked on Roger again asking him questions to make him stay awake. I ran to the hamper and grabbed a pair of shorts then ran to the closet and grabbed a t-shirt. I talked to him the whole time so he’d stay awake. Then I proceeded to find the phone number for the front desk downstairs so they would know the paramedics were on the way and assist them in getting in. The number wasn’t in Roger’s phone where I could find it, so I ran to the office and grabbed the folder from Suite America out of the file drawer that had all the numbers in it. It wasn’t in there. I thought, “Duh Holly, you work for Archstone-Smith, you can get the number from the website” as I moved the mouse. The desktop came up and I clicked on IE. I typed archstoneapartments and hit Control-Enter. The site came up and I clicked on Virginia and then Gallery at Virginia Square. But the website was just changed recently and the phone number now listed was the 800 number not the local number. I didn’t want to call it and get some call center in our Denver office.

Then I remembered we got a letter from the community manager about the fire alarm being tested the day before. And since we recycle it was still sitting on the counter in our paper stack. So I ran over and grabbed it and ran into the bedroom to check on Roger thinking I had been gone too long and no telling what state he was in now. I dialed the number as I spoke to Roger to make sure he was conscious. The front desk person answered and I told him that I had called 9-1-1 and the paramedics were on their way. He responded that they were already here and on their way up. I hung up and thought I need to know how long this is happening in case I’m asked. I looked at the time on Roger’s cell phone and it was 1:57 a.m. (The next morning Roger and I looked at his call log and I called 9-1-1 at 1:51 a.m. So only five minutes had passed from the time I dialed 9-1-1 to dialing the front desk at 1:56 a.m.) I ran to the front door to unlock it and propped it open with a Gatorade bottle from the closet across from the door. I ran back to Roger and he seemed to be a little more awake. I kept talking to him and he was very slowly starting to come to. I heard the paramedics say something and the door opening. So I ran to the door, held it open for them and all of their bags and toolboxes as I said he just came to. They asked which way and began to ask me questions.

I went to the bedroom and completely forgot that Roger had no clothes on. As soon as they walked in they pulled the sheet over him. That was a little embarrassing because I didn’t even think about Roger being naked. It never crossed my mind. They asked me to tell them what had happened and asked a lot of very important questions about medications and medical history as they tended to Roger. I didn’t know this but a couple of them were bringing the stretcher and other stuff in and were in the living room moving the coffee table. I think there were five-six of them. One guy was devoted to Roger. One guy assisted him by handing him stuff. They didn’t say much to each other. The assisting guy knew what they other one needed. One guy kept asking me questions as I went back and forth from the dresser to get Roger’s ID to the bathroom cabinet to find his medicine bottles. The guy with Roger was asking Roger if he knew what was going on, where he was, his name, what day of the week it was, etc as he was taking his blood pressure, pulse and other vitals. Roger wasn’t responding very well and looked completely confused and shocked and maybe a little scared so he told Roger he was going to put in an IV to help him. Roger’s face looked like as soon as the needle hit his arm he was going to freak out. So I walked over to the side of the bed and grabbed his hand and held it. He looked at me and I said to him that everything was okay now, he was here to help him and asked him if he understood that. He kind of shook his head at me in agreement and the paramedic asked him if he knew who I was and Roger said my wife. Then the paramedic asked what’s her name and Roger said Holly. So he stuck him with the needle.

I guess he had a bag of saline (I can’t remember.) and he told me it would help him feel better. I asked if the way Roger was behaving was normal and all the paramedics nodded or responded in unison that it was. That made me feel better. Roger began to come to very fast. He began asking questions about what had happened and what was going on. They explained to him that they were going to take him to the emergency room and why. Roger still seemed a little confused, but he was responding faster and clearer. He wanted to know what hospital they were taking him to, if he could put on some clothes and if he could drink some water. They explained that what ever he put on would be taken off anyway for a gown and they’d cover him with a sheet. One medic pulled our sheet off the bed and then one of the guys behind the stretcher said they had one. I said out loud, “Good because I know hospitals and I’d be scared I won’t get my sheet back.” They all laughed in agreement.

One paramedic gave me directions to the hospital and I began to gather clothes for Roger. As they went out the door, one turned back and told me to tell the ER people when I arrived that Roger was in ambulance 104. I ran to grab a bag for the clothes. I thought we might be there a while and grabbed a bottle of water, banana and an apple. I also grabbed the notepad we used at the other hospitals to write stuff down. I knew I’d have stuff to write down. As I was making my way to the elevator, I realized that I couldn’t really remember the directions he gave. And as I was driving out of the garage, I was starting to question if he said ambulance 104 or 140. I was thinking, “Oh crap, I hope I can catch up to them and follow them.” I did not want to have to use the GPS to find the hospital. I wanted to be there when he arrived. I pulled out of the garage driveway and the ambulance was still there. Talk about relief. I followed them to the hospital through red lights, looking all around for cops every time. They drove a normal speed and turned on the sirens only through intersections. I could see Roger sitting on the stretcher. I followed them all the way back to the ambulance dock. I parked in a row of parking spots worried I would get towed, but there were no signs saying no parking. I inquired later and was told since we wouldn’t be there long, it was okay. Of course, the guy gave me a hard time. And when we left the doctor directed us a different way and I explained that I was parked out by the ambulances, the guy that told me it would be okay said, “If it’s not towed” with a sheepish grin.

In the ER, they hooked him up to the machines and I repeated the story, medications and medical history to the doctor. A young lady in civilian clothes got all our insurance information and copies of Roger’s Texas and military ID. The doctor prescribed a 500 mg Keppra and decided to do a CT scan. So Roger was wheeled away. A few minutes later he returned. The nurse brought his Keppra and Roger told her his IV was hurting him because he bent his arm in the ambulance which pushed the plastic needle up farther and bent it. So when they took blood it wouldn’t work so they had to use a butterfly to get blood. It all reminded Roger of all the blood/needle experiences in the hospital. Not fun, especially when they took it out. The doc came back in after a while and told us his CT looked fine and we would be released shortly. Roger asked if he could drink something. The doctor himself got him some cranberry juice and brought it to him. When he returned I asked him a bunch of questions about what to do next time. Roger signed some paperwork. I helped him get dressed and we walked to the truck. He felt a little light headed when he sat in the truck and we sat there for a bit before we drove off after I asked him if he thought we should go back in. He said no and we went home at 4:30 a.m. We were completely wide awake for quite a while. But it gave us time to find the Tricare numbers we needed to make the necessary call so we wouldn’t get charged for going to a civilian hospital and for Roger to send emails to his doctors at Bethesda to give them a heads up that we’d be there later that morning.

We finally laid down to take a cat nap before we headed to Bethesda around 5:30 a.m. Of course, we over slept and didn’t have time to take showers, but only get dressed and drive an hour in rush hour to Bethesda. We made it to the hospital in the nick of time for Roger’s 9:00 a.m. ultrasound to check for testicular cancer which he found out today was negative, but they’d like to see him again in December. After that we met with Dr. Duelge and then Dr. Rosenbaum. We received a lot of good information and it was good to speak with Dr. Rosenbaum probably for the last time in person as he is separating from the Navy. That will be the Navy and the military’s loss because he is a great neurosurgeon. We ate a great lunch at the mess hall and returned home around 3:00 p.m. to rest finally as we were exhausted.

Roger is still shocked that he had a seizure. It’s almost surreal to him. It’s not for me. I will never forget this and I pray we don’t have to experience this again. Thanks for sticking with me on this ride. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned something. I sure have.
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