Hug Your Kids

This evening Jillian asked me if I remembered what happened two years ago today. Somehow it had totally escaped me. Two years ago, Trudy had a seizure. And then she had another one at the doctor's office. And then another one in the ER. It was one of the scariest times of my life. It was the week before classes started. We were in the children's ER in Miami, and I kept getting badgered by one of the admins at work about setting up the theory placement exam for auditioning students. I remember it was the first time in my life that I realized that doctors could have vastly differing opinions. The pediatrician thought it was caused by roseola; a viral illness that gives kids a rash, fever, and sometimes seizures as a result of the fever. We weren't sure that Trudy ever had a fever. We went to the ER, and then to the pediatric ER. We did a spinal tap, a CT scan, and an EEG. The second doctor, the one in pediatric ER, was convinced it was a seizure disorder. He prescribed Keppra, which almost immediately stopped the seizures from happening. He told us that Trudy would have to be on the medicine for at least two years.

We left the hospital three days later. Trudy was so good about taking her medicine. It became part of our daily routine. We called it her “fancy sauce.” We scheduled an appointment with a pediatric neurologist, and went on with our daily lives. Trudy had an MRI, and the results came back negative. The pediatric neurologist disagreed with the pediatric ER doctor's diagnosis of a seizure disorder. She was pretty sure it was roseola. We weened Trudy off of the Kepra over a couple of weeks. She hasn't had a seizure since.

Trudy at the ER. All smiles, even with a splint and an IV.

In November, about a month after he was born, James caught a cold. His breathing was laboured. Trudy had just had pneumonia, so we took James into the ER to be cautious. They thought he had pneumonia, too, so they sent us home with some antibiotics. The antibiotics didn't help. We went back to the ER, and they diagnosed James with RSV; essentially, a viral infection that would manifest itself in adults as a really bad cold, but that can be extremely dangerous to the very young and the very old. The ER doctor told us he'd have to be admitted and put on oxygen. If his oxygen levels dropped, he would have to be transported to the children's hospital in Calgary to be put on a ventilator. The worst part was that, since it was a viral infection, there was nothing they could do for him, aside from providing supportive care. Give him oxygen, blast him with saline, suck out the mucus, and wait. James was in the hospital for 7 days. Jillian and I had to divide and conquer. I took care of Trudy while Jillian stayed in the hospital with James. Coincidentally, my brother, his ladyfriend, and their daughter were visitng, and were incredibly helpful throughout the ordeal. My parents showed up right after my brother and co. left, and they were also tremendous. Leaving your kid in the hospital every night is awful, but I was so grateful to have some kind of support. Thankfully, they were able to stay for a few days after James was released, and were able to enjoy some time with him under less stressful circumstances.

This is no fun.

As troublesome as all of this was, spending time in pediatric wards has made me realize that we are incredibly lucky to be in relatively good health. Though they were difficult times, the most terrifying moments, those moments where you think about the worst possible outcomes, were over relatively quickly. In both situations, we managed to move on to the point where I needed to be reminded of what we went through. I am very grateful for this. Nevertheless, I think I'm pretty much over spending time in the hospital with my kids. Maybe we'll go back if one of them gives us a grandbaby.

Bryn Hughes
Assistant Professor of Music

My research interests include music perception and cognition, popular music, and pedagogy.