The last 28 hours have been a bit of a crazy unexpected whirlwind for this White family. Right now our boys are sitting on the floor of our private room in the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane playing with blocks. It’s amazing how this feels like such a massive achievement when two days ago, it would have been normal. And quite amazing how only 24 hours can seem so long and be so exhausting.
Lead in Friday. We drove into Brisbane to look at a potential rental house (In other news, we are probably moving to Brisbane). Took the boys to a park, dropped a friend at the train station, took the boys to another park where we had lunch, headed to Alan’s for afternoon naps with the intention of going to the Symphony under the Stars. Tim arrived after doing some work and decided that he was too tired and would prefer a pizza and a movie, so we grabbed some Domino’s and movies and headed back. The kids fell asleep on mattresses on the floor while we watched the rather hilarious Parental Guidance. With no scary bits in it whatsoever. Then we transferred Nathan to the couch and fell asleep on the mattresses.
During the night, Nathan moved onto the couch with Alan where he fell asleep for a few hours. He then moved into bed with Tim and I where he rolled and moved and wrestled. A few times Tim woke him up and gave him a drink of water in order to get him to wake and then go back to sleep.
At 4.45 Nathan starts hysterically screaming. He jumps up from bed and screams and pulls himself away from the crack in between the two mattresses, crying out about the crocodiles. Initially, I think it’s a night terror, though he’s never had a nightmare in his life. I try to make sure that he’s awake and that it’s not real and calm him down. He continues to scream outrageously and Tim moves him onto the couch which calms him down for a few moments until he starts pointing to the couch and screaming to get the crocodiles away from him.
After about fifteen minutes, he hasn’t calmed down at all. This is so completely out of character for Nathan. We’ve tried distracting him, tried comforting him and nothing is working. I start thinking after about five or ten minutes that we need to get him to emergency. Get him some panadol and we leave.
We head to emergency, still screaming and seeing things the whole way. They take him straight in when we get there. He has a temp of 38.4 degrees, a fever but not a significantly high one.
His fear is very real, and on a level that I’ve never seen in him before. Or in anyone else really. Absolute terror. He crawls up over your shoulders to try and escape. Pushes away. Thrashes. Claws. Blood curdling screams.
Throughout it, he can talk reasonably. Count ducks. Identify everyone. He is compliant and not scared by the IV access that they take two attempts to put in. Not scared by the ECG stickers or the range of doctors and nurses. But then when he ‘sees’ something, he loses it. After about two hours, he gets to a stage where he will have a significant time of not losing it. He watches Dora on a portable DVD they have brought in to try and calm him, and only freaks out occasionally. These intermittent hallucinations are still very extreme. It continued throughout yesterday and last night. This morning he has woken up, and although still paranoid, is looking much better. He’s very shaky. His last big hallucination episode was between 2.30 and 3.30 this morning. Tim and the nurse spent quite some time trying to calm him down.
They’ve thrown out lots of possibilities. As soon as we came in they gave him precautionary antibiotics and antiviral medication, but his white cell count is only slightly elevated. The proteins in his brain fluid are fine. He’s had an MRI and lumbar puncture which didn’t show anything unusual. So far they have pretty much eliminated a bacterial infection, virus, febrile delirium (Because the hallucinations have been so severe and so long lasting, well beyond the mild fever of 38.4 he had for two hours), snake or spider bites. The only thing we have left to hear about is the drug screen, the possibility that he ingested something somewhere.
So we’re at a loss, but he’s still jittery and paranoid of the crocodiles, mozzies and spiders. Tim stayed with him last night. We’re both exhausted, just with the emotional intensity of his outbursts. Having to always be prepared to have him thrash around and lose it. He’s also really strong, and when he tries to escape from whatever it is he’s seeing, he really claws and pushes and is quite violent.
So that’s pretty much what’s happening at the moment. He is sitting on the floor right now, which is amazing because prior to this, he would freak out if his feet even touched the floor. And he’s been talking about the crocodiles being in Africa. So I think we have a lot of improvement.
The doctors have said that we may never know what is going on or what happened. He’s still not himself though, not by a long shot. So just prayers that he would return completely to normal. A happy healthy boy without jitteriness or shakes. Without fear or suspicion.