“She has recovered, Alhamdulillah” replied the teacher.
I observed that she has put on fresh clothes.
“She vomited in her sleep. We have to clean her and change her clothes.” So that answered my question.
“Thank you, teacher.” I smiled to the teachers and took baby porcupine home.
Along the way Aida was quiet in the car. Her face was pale and her lips have no colour. But she was happy I came to fetch her home. She smiled, but I know she was tired. I thanked Allah, earlier today I suddenly canceled my plan to go to the office, or else I’ll not be able to fetch baby porcupine from the nursery.
As soon as we reached home, Aida Amani walked across the living hall straight to the TV couch and immediately lied down.
“Get some rest. You should sleep, baby. I’ll prepare your milk.”
In half an hour’s time, baby porcupine was fast asleep on the couch. I put my hands on her forehead, then under her armpit and her neck, trying to sense if she had fever. Nope, the temperature was normal. No sign of fever. Then why did she vomit in her sleep? To make sure that I was right, I took the thermometer and tested again. Negative.
I suddenly remembered that in the haste to fetch baby porcupine at the nursery I have forgotten to say my Zuhr prayer. Touching my growing belly, I contemplated either to climb the stairs and perform solat in my bedroom or simply perform it downstairs at the living hall. Well, considering that baby porcupine was not feeling well, I decided to pray at the hall, so much closer to her.
“Ya Allah, I am so tired today. I wish I could get some rest and leave everything behind.”
I was still on the prayer mat, sighing and praying silently to The Almighty, surrendering only to Him, seeking for His help. I was lost in trance for a few minutes, only to see baby porcupine waving her left hand towards me when I opened my eyes again.
Aida Amani did not respond. It is funny to see her waving like that with her eyes shut tight.
“Baby, can you hear me? Are you okay?” I called again.
This time baby porcupine opened her eyes. Surprisingly, her wide-opened eyes stared at the ceiling and her body started shaking wildly. I panicked. I can sense something was terribly wrong. I dashed towards her and kept calling her again and again, but she did not seem to hear me. When I touched her I found out that her body was stiff. AllahuAkhbar!!! What happened to her?
I did not know what to do. I started to cry hysterically, at some times my voice turned uncontrollably loud. I tried to make her sit up, but she fell on her back almost immediately as if she has no backbones! So again I shrieked. By now both her eyes were all white and there were bubbles coming out of her mouth. With all the energy that was left in me, I lifted her up and tried to carry her to the bathroom. Halfway, my stomach started to feel painful. I have forgotten that I was pregnant. I have to put her down.
Aida was lying motionless on the floor, only a few feet from the bathroom. I shook her body, called her names and even slapped her twice in effort to make her gain consciousness. None of it worked. I collapsed beside her, tears were streaming my eyes that I can’t see clearly. Suddenly I thought of my husband. I dialed his office number frantically, and once when I heard his voice on the other end, I talked and cried at the same time, so bad that he did not understand a word I said.
Trying to tell him what happened when I myself could not understand what I was saying was tormenting. I threw the phone away. Again, I tried to lift up Aida Amani, the only thing I have in mind then was to bathe her with cold water. I didn’t know why that came across my mind and I didn’t even now if it is the right thing to do, but somehow I must try something.
Something else happened. In her state of being unconscious, I saw vomit started to come out from her mouth and nose. A lot of it!!! I screamed my lungs out. I got up on my feet and immediately dragged her to the bathroom, leaving behind the trails of vomit along the way. Then I saw something else. Together with the vomit, there was also urine. She urinated! Ya Allah! What is happening to my child?
In the bathroom, I tried to make her sit on the floor but failed. I have to bathe her while she was lying on the floor. I kept screaming her name and told her to stay with me. Her clothes were all wet. She shivers. Yet I knew she was unconscious.
The doorbell rang. I rushed to open the door. Three of my closest neighbours came to help. They told me my husband called and asked them to check on me and see if everything is alright.
“No! it’s not alright! I don’t know what happened to my baby!” I cried.
Sister Azila hugged me and comforted me, while sister Diya and brother Fadzil went to the bathroom and took care of baby porcupine. They replaced her wet clothes with a new one. Brother Fadzil then carried her to his car and took her to the hospital. They acted so fast. I am grateful to them three till this very day.
At the emergency room, the MO and several other staff started to run some tests on Aida Amani. They took her vomit and blood samples, checked her eyes, monitored her body temperature and some other stuff I don’t understand to explain here. Later a pediatrician came to see me. The test results were in his hands.
“How long has she been unconscious?” he asked.
“About five minutes or so.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Why are you asking, doctor?”
“Her temperature when she arrived here was 42 degree Celsius. That was extremely high. We adults could not tolerate a temperature that high, what more a child like her. It if happened more than ten minutes, your daughter could have brain damage.”
I stared at the doctor’s face. My mind was blank.
“But you did the right thing to reduce her temperature when you bathe her. Good work.”
“But doctor, I’ve checked on her temperature earlier. It was normal.”
The doctor then explained to me that when a patient’s body temperature rise higher than 38 or 39 degree Celsius, the brain will produce a signal that resulted blood vessels to shrink. Less blood will be pumped to reach beneath the skin. As a result, body temperature will appear normal as if patient has no fever. The use of ordinary thermometer could not detect the high temperature. Only thermometers with high sensitivity can detect it accurately.
“At home without the thermometer, what you can do is touch her hands and feet and see if they are cold. I mean, very cold. In your daughter’s case, the hands and feet have already changed colour to blue black because there’s no blood circulation. Even her lips have turned black. Did you not notice that?”
Masya-Allah. That was totally new to me. I didn’t know what to look for in this kind of situation, so I did not notice any of these changes on Aida. In addition, none of the family members had ever have such experience. She's the first to have it. Poor baby porcupine.
Later my husband arrived at the hospital. I immediately broke down again when I saw him. Who cares what people around me would think when they saw me crying like a baby? I was too emotional. What happened at home just now was something that will haunt me forever.
"We have reduced her temperature. She is okay for now, but she has to be admitted. We need to monitor her from time to time." The doctor left us to sit with our daughter for a while before a nurse came and arranged to send her to a ward.
And so my baby porcupine was admitted for ten days. Ten harrowing days of her life when she battled with the rise and fall of her temperature. At times she sat up in bed and asked for food and toys, at other times she just laid flat unmoved as if asleep. Alhamdulillah, she showed good progress every day. Baby porcupine is a strong fighter. I did not dare leave her side, so I stayed in the same room like a squatter. Oh! Gosh! Every inch of my body ached!
I understand now what attacked my daughter was something common for children at the age between 6 months to 6 years old. She experienced what is termed as febrile fits. Uprolling eyeballs, drooling of saliva, vomiting, urinating are the normal symptoms of febrile fits. This type of fever could be repetitious, which means, it could attack again in future. Immediate action must be taken to reduce the temperature. To my relief, I also get to know that such attack normally is not dangerous. But parents need to be extra careful, because the same symptoms explained above could also indicate the existence of meningitis, which is of course deadly.
When I write this post, I was sitting at the same TV couch where Aida was attacked with fits while she was sleeping. It was like a movie being replayed in my mind, I could clearly see myself desperately trying to wake her up and hopelessly crying when everything I tried resulted in only more panic discoveries.
It was painful. I don't want to go through it again. Ever.