Knock to the Head + Seizures = Trip to Hospital

Written by admin on June 10, 2011. Posted in In the Hospital

How did it happen?

I turned my back for a second and our 2 year old twin girls started hugging and tackling each other as usual. The full weight and momentum of Kaia falling forwards on Leila who  landed flat on her back smacking the back of her skull on the carpeted floor (carpet over concrete).

I can’t even begin to tell you how terrifying it was. It’s so very scary watching your little baby slip away from normality in front of you and instant fear grips you whether she’s going to come out of it or not. Your brain just flies a million miles a second! Leila had toast in her mouth at the time and her jaw clenched up when she seizured. I managed to get it out but my heart almost burst trying to manage what was going on in front of our eyes. Her hands and arms stiffened, her jaw clenched and eyes rolled back in her head. I shouted to Gerard to call 000 immediately which took 10 minutes to arrive. Her seizure went on for about 20 seconds and then she was totally out of it unresponsive for 2-3 minutes. By the time ambulance arrived she was lucid and crying again. I couldn’t stand being so powerless.

I sent Poppy out to the front of the house to meet the ambulance so there was no delay in them finding our apartment. I asked Grandma to organise my shoes and nappy bag and Gerard organised Kaia while I held and reassured Leila. I gave everyone tasks to do while help came. Most importantly, someone had to go to the street to meet the ambulance.

I learned one very important thing that day. A mother’s first instinct is to cuddle your child, reassure and check if she’s ok. As hard as this is, if it’s a really hard knock, don’t let them sit up. I think that’s why her brain shorted out and had to reset itself and had a little seizure. If we’d kept her laying on the floor she may not have. I didn’t really see the whole accident, but I’d seen it happen similarly before. This time I just saw her eyes fly wide open with shock laying on the floor, so I wasn’t fully aware how hard she’d hit. She was conscious when I cuddled her (still sitting on the floor) but then 5 seconds later her cry changed and then she was unconscious having the seizure. Mum and Dad saw the knock and said it was bad.

As crappy as I feel, I want to share this with you. It’s a natural mother response but I won’t be doing it next time. I’ll keep her horizontal and reassure her until I know she’s okay to get up on her own, especially if I haven’t witnessed the event and can assess it clearly. I’ve done the cuddle response many times in the past (only for worthy bumps) but this one had consequences. Would she still have seizured if I hadn’t sat her upright? Who knows. There is a technical term for post-impact seizures ie. not immediately unconscious upon impact. It doesn’t make me feel any better, however it is what it is.

The hospital conducted a low dose scan of her brain to ensure there was no bleeding or any underlying condition that caused her seizure. Full does brain scans give high dose radiation and are not recommended for children. We were given the analogy that a low dose scan was equivalent radiation to a long haul flight from Australia to Europe. We’re hit with radiation all the time from the sun and being higher in the atmosphere (in a plane) exposes us to more. We decided that was an acceptable exposure given the peace of mind we received from the scan results. Given I had only just last month read a story of a family having a lovely holiday when their 13 year old daughter while asleep fell from the top bunk in the middle of the night. Being in a small beachside town there was no CT facilities at the hospital and they refused after initial assessment to transport her to one that had (and refused admission to hospital for observation because it wasn’t the hospital’s policy to admit ‘children’ for observation). The girl had a splitting headache and felt sick. Back at their hotel her father sat up with her monitoring her condition when 3 hours later she vomited and seizured and her parents rushed her back to hospital. After being ‘under observation’ at this hospital who still had no intention of airlifting her out, she finally lost consciousness and slipped into a coma. Finally she was rushed to a bigger hospital and a scan revealed she had a fractured skull and a brain injury. She died 2 days later without ever waking up again. The lawsuit is ongoing, but parents have lost her forever.

If you ever encounter this awful situation of a serious head injury with your child (or a child in your company) I hope my sharing this with you helps in some way to weigh up all opinions and be at ease with whatever decisions you make.

Here’s some information to print for your fridge in case you ever cross paths with this kind of event (knock wood you never do) Kids Health Info for Parents – Head Injury.

Stay safe. From One very shaken mummy,
Janet.

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