Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Scary Teacher First

Wow, it's been a while! I was hoping that with a sweet, new class and a great new job, I'd feel like blogging a bit more. It seems like I have only enough energy for short Facebook posts and personal conversations these days!

I wanted to blog about something that happened to me this week as a teacher. Working with children exposes you to all kinds of life experiences, and Thursday was no exception. I began to notice as the afternoon wore on, that one of my sweeties--we'll call him A--was acting a little more impulsive than normal. This is a child with a significant medical history, as well as epilepsy, but to myself, he was acting more like a student with ADHD who forgot to take his medication. I think every teacher has had that experience :) He even expressed that he hadn't taken his medicine that day, and I thought, "Yep, that's it!" We made it through the day. I shot off a quick email to his mom highlighting some of my concerns and didn't really think twice about it.

When I arrived at work the next morning, I checked my email and found that his mother had written me back. Kindly, but firmly, as a mother should, she had expressed that the things that I had noticed were symptomatic of a seizure, and that she would expect him to have one in the next 24 hours. She requested that I let the staff know immediately, so that they would be on the lookout for seizure-like symptoms. I went back through his file, trying to find something that I had missed the day before, but none of his symptoms really seemed to match the behaviors I had seen. Either way, I spent the 30 minutes before the bell rang talking to the nurse, PE teachers, assistant principal, ESS teacher, etc. making sure everyone was aware that if A was feeling better this morning, he would be here, but we would need to keep an eye out for him.

I saw A at breakfast and he looked like his bright, happy self. His tradition in the morning when he gets to my room is to either try to scare the beejeezus out of me by sneaking up behind me, or just simply trying to get past me unnoticed. He finds great joy in this practice, and I have recognized as one of those things that A just loves to do :) In fact, he finds it so funny when I "catch" him, asking, "Mrs. T, HOW did you KNOW I was there?"

He was no different this morning, trying to sneak behind me, and giggling when I discovered him, yet again behind me. Morning Meeting went without a hitch, business as usual. My para was called out of the room that morning, so I was slightly concerned upon realizing I may be the only adult in the room with a pre-seizure student. Fortunately/Coincidentally, one of our autism professionals came in the room to do an observation on A around 8:45, and so I felt slightly better knowing there was an extra adult.

As we moved on to our reading block, my students were behaving like gems, and so I was really able to keep an eye on A. At one point, he got out of his chair, walked towards the Smartboard, and stopped completely. This seemed very unusual for him, so when he came back to his seat, I asked, "A, are you feeling okay?" He said, "Yeah, I feel good!" However, when I watched him get up again to get a piece of paper, he repeated the earlier behavior, stopping completely, staring off into space, completely oblivious for several seconds. As he came back to his seat, I asked again, "How do you feel?" A replied, "I don't feel very good." I immediately called the school nurse, who headed right down. When I returned, A somewhat lethargically said, "I need--I need to go the nurse." While I was on the phone, my instructional coach had come in to observe, and as I was guiding A out of the classroom, our ESS teacher also came in. I was able to leave my class in their hands, and we took off down the hallway. I kept A talking, noticing that he was beginning to stutter, get a little droopy, and fading off quite a bit.

We met the nurse in the hallway and headed back to her office. He went in and laid down, but couldn't sit still, complete sentences, or even forgot to respond to questions. He shivered a few times, stuttered his way through questions, and was very lethargic. At this point, I was just barely holding it together because I knew something was very wrong with this sweet little boy. Mom was called in, and as she knelt in front of him, she asked him where he was. After pausing, he was able to tell her he was at school, but couldn't lift his head in response to her request to look her in the eyes. At this point, I had to leave the room because the emotions completely overwhelmed me. I was relieved Mom was there to get him to the doctor, I was scared for him, I was terrified of what was happening to him.

My kind assistant principal let me sit in her office and cry for a few minutes. I was able to compose myself and get back to my room about 20 minutes later. It was incredibly difficult to teach that day, as I was feeling so emotionally exhausted and I constantly wondered what was happening to little A.

At the end of the day, I received an email from the nurse, who said that Mom had called and told her that 1 hour later at the doctor, A had a grand mal seizure, followed by several more episodes. He was in the hospital, getting blood taken, and recovering.

I was so grateful for that mom's responsiveness to my email, and her warning to be on the lookout. I was grateful for support staff who showed up in my room at the exact right moment. I was grateful for an administration who let me catch my breath. I was grateful for a very calm and loving nurse to sit with A and I in her office. I am grateful, also, to my Heavenly Father for watching over me and little A, and I think it was a blessing that his seizure happened at the doctor, and not at school.

I am also grateful to know what to look out for, in case there is a next time. Because this is a chronic condition, this may not be the last time I deal with A's seizures.

Last of all, I am grateful for A's influence on my life. I am so lucky to get to work with these little ones, even when they do drive me crazy some days! I feel I learn so many life lessons through these tiny guys, and I'm so glad their parents share them with me everyday!


  1. Very neat story. Great to hear about your experiences. Tell Todd hello for me.

  2. Wow, How scary! You handled yourself great! I don't know if I would have been able to witness that. You were right on top of everything. Way to Go!
    The Hive

  3. I love your blog!

    I nominated you for the Liebster Award...hopefully this will help you get more followers! I would love if you would follow me too! See my blog for more information if you are interested!

    Jennifer Kimbrell

    The HiTech Coach

  4. oh my that is so scary!! Kudos to Mom for responding so quickly and for you to send her the email in the first place. As a teacher, it is so easy to say, "ah I will do it in the morning!" Kudos to you and everyone involved for being so in-tuned.

  5. What a scary day! Thank you for sharing your story!

    Think, Wonder, & Teach