Everyone wants to know about my sponsored swim in the Hudson on Saturday and it’s coming—I promise—but what’s more on my mind is the ambulance ride and the emergency room visit that came the night before:
About ten o’clock on Friday, Isabella is in bed asleep and a funny noise comes from her and I pick her up and she is really hot to touch and she is having mild convulsions and saying “Daddy… daddy… daddy” like she wants me to help her and her eyes are shut tight and I don’t know how to help my little girl.
We call 911 and the ambulance comes and it sounds dramatic and it is but the good news is that we know what's happening—a febrile seizure—which she’s had before (last Tuesday, to be exact). It’s scary as all hell but not actually threatening to her life or even, the doctor’s assure us, her health.
(Lots of kids get convulsions associated with high fevers apparently, including me when I was little. Isabella’s fever, it turns out, came from having a cold and sore throat.)
We get to the hospital and Isabella is fine and she gets a kick out of getting ice from a machine in the hall and we joke around and make crunching noises and once or twice toss handfuls of ice at each other and she says, “I’m not sick anymore, Daddy…I’m all better now, Daddy.”
But my heart is still broken from being reminded of the mortality of my two-year-old, even though mortality is not what she actually faced.
And over on the next bed is a little girl from the Bronx and she is wearing a respirator and she has had an asthma attack. One in four children in the Bronx has asthma because of the diesel fumes of the trucks that drive through their neighborhood.
There’s nothing that can be done about febrile seizures like Isabella’s—kids grow out of them—but diesel fumes? Couldn’t we do something about our kids getting asthma from diesel fumes?
Because earlier that night, that little girl, who made a point of coming to say goodbye to me and Isabella and Michelle before she left, when her asthma attack was over, probably called out “Mommy…mommy…mommy,” just like Isabella called out “Daddy…daddy…daddy,” and her mother, I’m sure, God help her, felt just as helpless as I did.