Short intro about the blog

This blog is about our journey to healing with Grade 3 Anaplastic Oligoastrocytoma

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Seizure - Part 1

The boys and I had been looking forward to Friday. We had planned a hiking trip with another family, and my boys love hiking. Adam decided to opt out. He wanted to do a liver flush Thursday night, which meant he would be chained to the toilet Friday morning. We left the house around 10:00am, and Adam had already been using the toilet more than usual, as expected during a liver flush. He looked a little gray, but nothing made me feel like I should cancel the hiking trip. It took a couple of hours to meet up with our friends and get down to the trail, and as we meandered down Skyline Drive I saw a bright candy-apple red HHR. It was parked at one of the scenic overlooks. It caught my eye and made me nervous for a second, but I decided that unless I saw more than one, I wouldn't let it worry me. We got to the parking area, had a wonderful picnic and set out on the hike. About every 45 seconds one of my children would trip over a rock and fall. Most of the time it was Finlay. By the time we got to the top, they were covered in scratches, bruises, bleeding wounds, dirt and tears. But, they enjoyed it... really. There were just as many spills on the way back down, and Finlay managed a spectacular swan dive at the very end of the trail only yards from the car. Finlay had been begging for ice cream ever since we got into our friend's van, so it was agreed that we would stop at a McDonalds in Front Royal for sundaes.

Shortly after we left the trail parking lot to head back home, I saw another red HHR. We passed the scenic overlook where I had noticed the first red HHR, and it was still parked there. I thought that was a bit unusual, because people don't usually stay at a scenic overlook for the whole day. I was starting to get a bit nervous. I didn't have a signal at all on my phone in the mountains, but as soon as we parked up at the McDonald's I called Adam. He told me that he had vomited twice that afternoon, and he felt really sick. As I was talking to him a red HHR drove past. That was the fourth red HHR sighting that day. I finished my call with Adam and called my mom. I told her that Adam was really sick, and I was an hour away, so would she please go over right away and watch him until I got back. She promised me she would go over to the house straight away.

An hour later, we walked in the door. The first thing Mom said was, “Adam just went upstairs a few minutes ago... he thought he was going to throw up again.” I kicked off my shoes and used the downstairs toilet. Then I went up to check on Adam. The bathroom door was closed, so he was still in there. But, there was a strange noise, almost like a sucking sound. I thought maybe he was vomiting, so I turned to go down the stairs and give him a minute of privacy. I stopped on the second step and listened again. There was something wrong about that noise. Adam always locks the bathroom door. Always. But this time it was unlocked, so I went straight in. The scene was so confusing. Nobody was on the toilet, and the seat had been ripped off. My eyes fell on a body in the bathtub, but the head was missing. The sucking noise was loud and clear. Adam was crumpled in the tub, his head completely folded under his shoulders, and his body was struggling to breathe. I grabbed his shoulders and pulled him up. He was completely unconscious, and it was incredibly difficult to lift him. His head kept bobbing forward, so I kept trying to hold him upright while keeping his head up. It was so awkward. This was all happening within a fraction of a second. I started screaming for my mom. I've never screamed so hard in all my life. Finally she came up and I yelled for her to call 911. I kept shouting and shouting and shouting. She was moving so slow. Nobody could have moved fast enough for me at that moment. Adam had blood on his face, but I didn't know from what. I knew I had to get him out of the bathtub and lay him on the floor. I put my arms around him and under his armpits and started pulling. I yanked, I pulled, I lifted with everything I had and I just couldn't get him out. He was so so heavy. I shouted to Calum and told him to run to the neighbor and ask her teenage son to come help. Meanwhile I kept pulling. Calum came back and told me that no one answered. So I told him to go to the other neighbor, who we have never spoken to, but there are three adult sons living there. Calum came back with the oldest son who came in and helped me pull Adam out. We got him onto the floor, and I pulled Adam's underwear up over his pelvis. He must have been sitting on the toilet when he fell in to the bath. The neighbor asked if there was anything else he could do, but I told him thank you, no. Adam was starting to regain consciousness, but he was totally out of it. He didn't seem to know who I was and was unable to speak. He kept groaning and trying to sit up, but he couldn't. I kept repeating to him, “It's me, I'm here, please lie down, just lie down.” He didn't seem to hear me. The first paramedic arrived and I got out of the way. He spoke to Adam and told him he was going to pull him into the hallway, where there was a bit more room. Other paramedics arrived and it got crowded very quickly. Adam was on the upstairs landing, trying to get up, and collapsing, groaning and grunting all the while. It was agonizing to watch. They had a stretcher downstairs ready and waiting to load him into the ambulance, but they had to get him down the stairs first. One of the men asked me for Adam's name and date of birth, and a list of his medications. I ran to the kitchen and started writing out the list, but my hand just couldn't write. It was barely legible, and I handed it to the police officer standing in my living room. I started scrambling around thinking about what we needed to bring, and the boys were standing in the downstairs hallway with my mom. Calum was crying and he asked me if Daddy was going to die. I looked in his eyes and said, “I don't know.” My mom took my keys and said she would take the boys back to her house to get them away from the madness. They left, and the paramedics got Adam wrapped up in a hammock-like tarp and carried him down the stairs. Adam was getting quite belligerent and they had to tie his arms down. He was groaning and straining, trying to break free. He just had no idea what was going on. They got him onto the stretcher and loaded into the ambulance, and I was told to sit in the front passenger seat. We sat there forever. Honestly, it must have been 5 minutes, which at the time felt like eternity. We finally got the all-clear and started on the 25-minute trip to the hospital. Adam started roaring in the back of the ambulance. It was a sound like nothing I'd ever heard. It was like Chewbacca in agony. I started to cry. I had been in shock up to that moment, but that awful awful roar just broke me. Thankfully, the driver wasn't interested in talking and left me alone to sob. Finally, about halfway to the hospital I heard the most amazing sound I'll ever hear in my life. Adam shouted out at the top of his lungs, “SHIT!” He just kept yelling “Shit! Shit! Shit!” I felt a wave of peace come over me, and I knew he was going to be okay. Who knew that a four-letter expletive could sound so beautiful. The paramedics got him calmed down, and within a few minutes Adam was answering questions with ease. By, the time we pulled into the Emergency Room ambulance bay, Adam was holding a conversation. My friend Celeste had already arrived, and walked up to me next to the ambulance. We followed Adam and the paramedics into the ER, and they asked Celeste to get some visitor badges for us while I followed the entourage into a room.


  1. Oh Vanessa, my heart hurts for you. We continue praying for Adam, you and your family during this awful, awful time.

  2. How terrible that sounds. I could barely read it so I can't imagine what you are going through. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Our Father's death so I will pray especially to him for a cure, for something....and for you and your strength....
    Missing you very much.

  3. I am so so sorry! I cant even imagine. Just focus on getting through one day at a time. Praying for all of you as you continue this excrutiating journey.