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A Piece of My Mind
June 3, 2009

Is There a Doctor in the House?

JAMA. 2009;301(21):2191-2192. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.753

The first time my son had a seizure, he was 8 months old, and I was an unmitigated disaster. My husband, who has no medical training, stepped calmly through the ABCs as I hyperventilated, ran circles around him in the dark, and dialed 991—twice. By the time the ambulance arrived, my son's shaking had long since stopped, yet it's safe to say mine continued unabated. Despite my own training in patient assessment, I clung to every bit of reassurance offered by the paramedics. They spoke deliberately and calmly in layperson's terms, yet I remembered very little of what was said. Our son was transported to the hospital and admitted overnight for observation. A pediatric neurologist reassured us that this seizure, in the setting of a fever, did not necessarily predict the development of epilepsy and discharged us home to familiar surroundings, but I was unsettled. Without warning, the world as I knew it had changed.

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