Driving down the highway the other day, I pulled over for an ambulance and the vehicle closely following and it took me back to the first of many ambulance rides with my middle daughter, Jordan. She was a normal, feisty three year old tearing through the house after the whole family had just gotten home on a Sunday evening from bowling. Movement was constant with that little Tasmanian Devil, so for her to climb, slightly disoriented, into my arms was a rare moment, but I was glad to take her up on the snuggle.
The chain of events that happened next will be forever seared in my memory. It was immediately apparent that something was very wrong. Her eyes pleaded with me to help, but a rhythmic clicking and drooling had started in her mouth that she had no control over. Her eyes darted and she became rigid in my arms with a twitching that frightened me to my core. Her father dialed 911 and every reason we chose a small town came to fruition. Several members of our volunteer fire department lived nearby, so the just drove straight to the house while others got the vehicle. By the time the truck got to the house she stopped breathing and was gently taken from my arms and given CPR.
Meanwhile, neighbors and friends came in and tried to guide me to change my clothes that had been soiled in her loss of consciousness, so that I could go with her to the hospital. I wouldn’t leave her side, so changed clothes on the spot. Another friend threw some things in a bag for me, but all I could do was watch as they worked on her. Thank goodness they insisted, because it was a week before we got home.
Once the ambulance arrived they administered some valium to try to stop the seizure and loaded her in and allowed me to ride in the front. My heart was in my throat as the ambulance pulled over about 10 minutes out of town. I don’t even remember the screaming starting, but I realized that the man driving the ambulance was holding me by the shoulders and trying to make me understand that I had to get control of myself, because they needed him in the back to help them intubate her because she wasn’t breathing on her own.
All these hometown heroes are forever in my thoughts and prayers. I often think how close we came to jumping in the car and taking her to the hospital ourselves. Without them, my child wouldn’t have survived that ride, to finally outgrow epilepsy and grow into the compassionate woman she is today.