It’s been a rough weekend… and it’s not even over yet. I didn’t think that this would be my first post about experiencing the medical system in Norway but it has to be, if not for information for our readers then for my own sanity.
I’m a subconscious writer. I always need to write things down. In meetings and discussions, on the bus or in a cafe, I always have with me pen and paper. Writing sorts out my mind, it puts things in order. It is a way that I communicate and makes me understand my world. It has become a great comfort to me since I have been in Norway. Last night I needed a pen and paper.
Our little girl, Lilu, had a temperature yesterday. Even though she was very hot she was still in good spirits, running around, happy to see people. After lunch we gave her the recommended dose of children’s panadol to curb her fever. (This is an ordinary thing to do in Australia, but as I’m discovering in Norway, medical staff don’t seem to like the use of panadol, except for extreme treatment.) We monitored Lilu and put her to bed early.
In bed Lilu was so hot. We measured her temperature with a digital thermometre. It was 39°C. I got Moose to call up the general emergency ward at the hospital for advice. I expected them to tell us to bring Lilu in. This is what they would do in Australia – children are always a priority, especially when it comes to fevers and temperatures, and the medical system would want to cover themselves – better safe than sorry. But the nurse at the hospital said to only come in if Lilu’s temperature goes over 41°C. She instructed to give Lilu lots of fluid and if the temperature doesn’t go away after four days to see a doctor. I was a little put out by this, but I remembered that Norway is often very understaffed at hospitals and so understood that they could only handle extreme cases after hours.
We decided to go to bed early with Lilu – so we could monitor her closely. We had her between us so we could feel her breathing and her temperature every now and then (I tend to wake up a lot now that I’m pregnant.) At 11:30pm I got up – I couldn’t sleep (I went to bed too early) so I watched TV. An hour later I heard two chilling screams from the bedroom – it was Lilu. I raced in there and turned the light on. Her little body was convulsing on the bed. She was so sacred. I picked her up to comfort her, hoping it would bring her back to me. Nothing but her body thrusting in my arms. I screamed to Moose to call the ambulance.
I stood in the lounge room while Moose called the 113. All I could hear was Norwegian, Norwegian, Norwegian! – while my little baby was twisting and contorting against my body. What was going on? What where they saying? What should I do? I don’t know what’s happening! “Send an ambulance!”, I kept on yelling. But Moose was talking and talking Norwegian on the phone. Not knowing what was going on was overwhelmingly terrifying. It made me panic even more.
Lilu was turning white as her body kept jolting. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and her body stiffened. Sickly blue came creeping over her face. “She’s not breathing!!! SHE’S NOT BREATHING!!!”, I was screaming. I put my mouth around Lilu’s and blew. Her head was hanging back, her mouth open and her face so, so blue. It wasn’t working. I collapsed to the floor and laid her gently on the ground. I breathed in her again. I saw the air go in and out of Lilu’s body. I felt her little chest and with one hand pushed gently down twice. I didn’t know how much to push – I didn’t want to push too hard. I covered my mouth over hers again and breathed into her and it felt different. She breathed in again by herself, she was moving again. Her body had broken out of her straightness and she started crying. Moose was talking Norwegian, then yelled “The phone has cut off!” “Call again, call again!” I yelled. Magically Moose was connected straight to the same person. Moose relayed to me I should lay Lilu on the ground. I put her into the resting position and laid with her, stroking her, talking to her – but her cry was horse and monodic.
I couldn’t hear the ambulance coming. How long would it take? Moose was still on the phone. It made me annoyed because we needed him – but it was procedure for the operator to keep us on the phone until the ambulance arrived. Moose went outside and the paramedics came in. They quickly checked over Lilu but asked me to carry her outside into the snow. The cool air settled her body but I was worried she was getting cold. We stepped into the ambulance. I sat in the back, Lilu in my arms. I expected to put Lilu on the bed but the paramedic wanted me to hold her. Moose was in the front. I wanted the paramedics to take over, to save Lilu but they never took her away from me. Instead they asked me to do things for Lilu – to tell them if Lilu’s colour was good or not, and to hold her firmly when she convulsed.
We slowly drove away. Slowly down our hill. I was given a tiny oxygen mask to gently hold over Lilu’s nose and mouth. Tears rolled down my face. Lilu was still growning and was beginning to shake again. Her eyes became fixed as if she wasn’t there any more. The ambulance stopped. The paramedic opened the door and said Lilu needed to calm down again. She said I needed to be calm too. Lilu settled and we were slowly rolling in the ambulance again. I didn’t understand why we weren’t rushing with sirens blazing to get us to the safety of the hospital. Eyes couldn’t stop crying and my breathing became erratic. My little one started convulsing again. Her little hand grabbed onto my hand and her body contorted and my skin was deeply scratched by the unconscious grip of her hands and nails.
The paramedic instructed for the ambulance to stop and the door was opened again. I was told to take big breaths to calm down. We waited for Lilu to stop convulsing. The paramedic said that Moose and I needed to swap. I suddenly realised why there were no sirens and no rush, and why the paramedics insisted that I do everything for Lilu, to carry her and hold her, be with her and give her oxygen. Why no sirens and why no rush? Because everything was for Lilu – to calm her, to give her comfort and to give her peace. The paramedics were using me to calm Lilu and teach me how best to care for her. They did not barge in and take over. In this, they were putting Lilu first.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop my body from reacting to my heart. Tears were falling and my body was shaking. This was not good for Lilu – she was being affected by me. The paramedic was receptive enough to instruct Moose and me to swap places. At this time it was best for Lilu that I give her up to her pappa. I was so glad I had Moose, my calm, soft, giant, moose-like husband to trust my baby girl to. I gave her to him so he could do what I could not.
I sat in the front of the ambulance. Moose and Lilu sat quiet and comforted in the back. It gave me the time I needed to settle myself for the hospital – I knew Lilu would need me there.
We arrived. Lilu was monitored. The doctor checked over her. No signs of neural damage. No signs of another seizure. Fever and seizures are generally caused by an infection. No infection in the ears or throat. Must see our GP to treat the infection. We were left alone to be together for a little while. It was nice to be just us. The doctor returned to answer all the questions we could possibly think of. There ia a 95% chance this will not happen to Lilu again.
This morning Moose took watch over us as Lilu and I slept. Tonight we keep watch again, taking temperatures, giving cool baths, drinks and sponging. We are still on high alert but we have been talking a lot to the hospital, keeping them informed every couple of hours and the doctor calls us.
I still have the scratches on my hand by Lilu’s grasp. I wish that they would stay so I can always be reminded of how precious each moment is with Lilu. But my wounds will heal and completely disappear and all that will be left is a memory of a time when our family grew closer together.