On June 23rd, we took our son into the pediatrician’s office to receive his one-year vaccines. We were getting ready to go on vacation and we wanted to get it over with since they were already late. Just like most other parents, I dreaded these appointments. I couldn’t stand taking my sweet, smiling, cheerful child into the doctor to have him poked and prodded, but I didn’t know I had a choice. I ran a home-based child care facility and I thought immunizations had to be current for that, as well as future schooling, camps, etc. Kash is the youngest of 5 siblings, all of whom have been vaccinated, and we never had issues, so unfortunately, I didn’t put much thought into doing any of my own research. This is the last picture taken of Kash before he got his MMR vaccination:
After Kash was immunized, I got him dressed and we both left the doctors office in tears.
The next morning I was cuddling with Kash when he first woke up, and he began to vomit. When he finished, I turned him over and tried to get him to communicate with me, or even respond, and I got nothing from him but a blank stare. His body was limp, he was staring off into space, and he wouldn’t even acknowledge his own name. Knowing something wasn’t right, we took him to the closest ER, which was about 5 minutes away. After evaluating him the attending physician told us that more than likely Kash had suffered a seizure due to “system overload” from his vaccines the day before. We were told to take him home, let him rest, keep an eye on him, but that everything SHOULD BE okay.
A couple of days later we left for our family vacation. Eight hours of driving and Kash screamed all the way. We couldn’t figure out what was going on because he was always such a delightful and passive child, and this was completely out of the norm for him. Over the next week, Kash was extremely fussy, broke out in a rash, and ran a fever. With any change in his personality or health, I called back home to his pediatrician who instructed me to treat with Benadryl and Tylenol. After a week of being on vacation with a fussy child and not in our own environment, it was time to make the long trip back home. Once again, eight hours in the car, and eight hours of Kash screaming. By the time we got home, we were all exhausted and decided to go to bed.
The following day, July 4th 2010, Kash woke up fussy and running a slight fever. I got up with him, gave him a dose of Motrin, and since we had a big day of celebrating ahead of us, I decided to lay down and take a nap with Kash. I took him into my room to nap with me while my husband and our other children went about their day. About an hour later, I was awoken by the most horrifying sound that I’ve ever heard….it was my baby screaming and convulsing at the same time. I shook him and screamed his name several times, neither of which he responded to. I didn’t know what to do, so I screamed for my husband to help, grabbed my baby and began to run up the stairs with him.
I got about half way up the stairs before my husband met me. Both of us have some medical knowledge and we know that seizures shouldn’t last long, so we stood in the kitchen holding Kash, trying to comfort him, saying his name, trying to do anything to get him to come out of the seizure, but he didn’t. After a couple of minutes we decided it was best for me to stay with the other children while my husband took Kash to the nearest ER, which thank GOD is only about 5 minutes away.
Cody’s narrative (Kash’s father):
On the 4th Kash and Kerri had awoken early so they took a nap together. About 45 minutes after they went down I heard my wife scream my name along with the word “help”. I met her half way up the stairs with Kash in her arms and he was convulsing and unresponsive. I know this sounds terrible but at the time it seemed best and it was the decision I made, I put Kash in my lap and drove as fast as I could to the E.R. (about 5 miles from our home, I really felt I could get him there faster than an ambulance could arrive at our home). The drive to the hospital felt like hours and I spoke to Kash……yelled a few times to try and get him to come to. We arrived at the hospital and I jumped out with Kash and ran in through the ambulatory entrance where the receptionist started to tell me that I would need to enter through the front door but I interrupted her with all I could get out, “Help – my son is having a seizure!”…
No time was wasted we were in a room and had 3 nurses and the doctor that was on in the room with us right away, I remember thinking that I felt guilty about all the other patients that were going to have to wait because we demanded all the attention for something that would have probably resolved itself (odd thought process and I was WRONG). We had to estimate his weight for medication because the seizure was too violent to get a good weight using the scales. The staff tried to get a line in but could not because his veins were too small and as I previously stated he was convulsing, violently, so the doctor informed me that they would have to “drill” a small hole into his shin. I remembered arguing with him that it would to painful for him and the doctor told me that in his current state he wouldn’t feel a thing. So with the hole drilled and the line started they pushed the first dose, the drug was something similar to a Valium. The doctor told me the drug would work very fast and he would come out of the seizure quickly. At this point of the visit, Kash had been seizing for about 12 minutes and 5 minutes later the doctor whispered something to a nurse and she quickly left the room. The doctor turned to me and told me that the medication didn’t work and that they would have to administer another dose and then told me something that didn’t register because I was distracted by the nurse that had just left the room returning with the crash cart. This is all a little fuzzy but I know Kerri was still home waiting for someone to come for the other kids and my mom had just arrived when I asked why they brought the crash cart in. The doctor told me for the second time that this second dose of medication would stop his breathing……Once again I argued with the doctor, “don’t give him the medicine then”, and the doctor told me that seizures should never last this long (we were now at the 20 minute mark) and the longer he remains seizing the higher the chance of permanent neurological damage. So the second dose went in and he stopped breathing. This is a photo of Kash in the PICU after seizing for 20 minutes.
This is the part of the story that I usually stop talking at, when the lump in my throat gets too big to talk through and I know if I blink a tear will fall. I hadn’t noticed the large man, that looked more like a bouncer than a respiratory specialist, that had entered the room until he began bagging my son. Kerri arrived right around this time and so did my realization that Kash wasn’t coming home today as I finally inventoried my surroundings and noticed nurses were beginning to cry.
Sorry this is so long. Obviously, this is a story I get very involved in telling, but I will fast forward for you.
Kash spent the next ten days in a coma. This is a photo of all of the medications Kash was on while in the PICU:
It was during this time that we began educating ourselves on the risks of vaccines. Bad timing considering we were too late to do anything now and we got to learn that if Kash ever woke up he faced certain brain damage and could be a vegetable. That was IF he woke up.
Kerri was my rock, I know I should have been that one but when it comes to my kids I am soft, cotton ball soft. Kerri is also soft when it comes to the kids but she is a muh better actor than I am. How can someone be so tough but have such a soft touch? She left the hospital twice, once to shower (before she found out she could use the showers there) and the second time when she left to take the other kids to dinner as Kash was in the Pediatric intensive care unit — where kids are not allowed.
It was in the PICU that we met several other very ill children and their families. There were some great stories of recovery that we got to watch as we waited for Kash to wake up… there were also some very sad stories that we were on the same floor with. In the PICU we learned about the hand plates, the same hand plates that you remember making and may still have from your childhood or maybe hand plates with your own children’s palms on them. These hand plate kits were there for the children that would not make it home. They were there to make a hand print for you to take home after your child had lost their fight. The same day we learned about the hand plates the hospital chaplain came by and I remember I got very angry because on TV they only come by to bless or baptize the dying. Again, I was wrong, I asked Kerri, “What the hell is he doing here?” and she informed me that he had been by everyday to pray with Kash.
This photo shows the moment when for the first time I was able to hold Kash again:
This photo shows Cody snuggling with Kash in the hospital bed:
FAST FORWARD and Kash woke up. He battled seizures for the first several days until they got him on an appropriate dose and schedule to keep the seizures at bay. Kash had reverted back to a newborn. He had no muscle strength or control (couldn’t even hold his head up) and had lost the words that he had begun to say before the seizure. BUT OUR KASH WOKE UP AND CAME BACK TO US.
FAST FORWARD. A year later Kash is two and still doesn’t have many spoken words; he can actually sign more than he speaks. Kash is running, laughing, smiling, crying and gives us kisses. He did wake up a little different from before and not just with the loss of speech, or the left-sided weakness, but he NEVER gave my husband kisses before the seizure just myself. Now, my husband and I get more kisses than we can manage with one face. Kash has speech therapy every week, has a state funded therapist that comes out an additional two times a month for speech, PT, and OT, sees a neurologist, and also goes to a spasticity specialist. We are also in the process of getting him into see a pediatric stroke specialist because during his coma, Kash also suffered a stroke which left him with left side weakness.
With Kash turning 3 in May, he will also begin his adventure in school, and will be placed in a special needs education class. With all that Kash and our family has been through, looking at his face is a constant reminder of the second chance of life that we have been given. Kash is living proof that God still performs miracles. I will however NOT be passive in my journey with a vaccine-injured child, but will use this as a chance to educate other parents, future parents, grandparents, and anyone else that will listen.