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The First Anniversary Of Dennehy Day

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A year ago today...

April 24, 2015, I returned home from a business trip to Chicago for my other job as a legal consultant. Having burned the midnight oil one too many a night in Chicago, I, too, was burned . . . out, that is.

My groom also was away for work, so when I relieved the sitter, it was just the 5-year-old twins and me. (Their older step-sister, Riley, was at her mom's house.) I was pumped for a quiet night at home with them. I had missed them so! Around 7 PM, I put the twins into the tub and went to toss their dirty clothes into the washer. No sooner had I done that when the night took a turn for the worse.

I heard screams coming from upstairs. It was Dennehy. And it didn't sound like the normal "she-just-hit-me" scream.

I dashed upstairs and ran into the bathroom. There lay Gia Quinn, lifeless in the water. Dennehy was holding Gia Quinn's head above the water and was screaming at me, panicked, with tears streaming down her face. "Mom! I didn't do anything! I swear! I thought she was playing! She was shaking! And then she went under the water!"

I went into overdrive.

I snatched Gia Quinn's body from the water, reassuring Denna that I wasn't mad at her and that she hadn't done anything wrong. I was pretty sure I knew what had happened. Gia Quinn had had a febrile seizure.

For those of you who don't know what a febrile seizure is, it's basically a seizure that occurs in some young children as a result of the body's sudden spike in temperature. Most kids don't get them after age 2, and Gia Quinn had gone more than a year since her last seizure, so her pediatrician had speculated that she was done with them. Febrile seizures can be associated with the onset of something as simple as a common cold, or over-exposure to heat and sun. In this case, it was the former. Unfortunately, as with her past seizures, Gia Quinn had not had any symptoms of illness leading up to the moment of her seizure. Quite the opposite; she had been incredibly happy and energetic all afternoon. When her body suddenly succumbed to the virus inside her, her temperature contemporaneously spiked about 6 degrees, and she seized.

Getting back to that...

I grabbed the house phone, dialed 911, and put it on speaker phone. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed the neighbor, and put it on speaker phone. I left both phones on the bed next to Gia Quinn -- now nearing the end of her seizure -- while I dried off Gia Quinn's trembling body and examined her for any bumps or bruises. I confirmed with Dennehy (aka "Righty") that Gia Quinn (aka "Lefty) had not fallen or bumped her head. Righty insisted that Lefty had not fallen; she just had been sitting there when she suddenly "just stopped talking," "started shaking" and then "went under the water, so I just pulled her head up, but her body was too heavy, so I that's why I screamed for you!" Righty kept asking if Lefty would be okay. I told Dennehy she had done an amazing thing, everything would be alright, and asked her to get her jammies on.

I then began to address the 911 operator and the neighbor, who'd both been trying to talk to me the whole time. I explained the situation as I watched my baby girl still shaking and incoherent, lying on the bed in front of me. The 911 operator and I went thought her list of questions as she dispatched an ambulance to our house. The neighbor showed up at my door to watch Dennehy.

The EMTs were there within minutes and whisked us off to the ER. It was Lefty's fourth febrile seizure since she was a toddler, so I was somewhat familiar with the procedure; but it still sucked. Leaving Righty with the neighbor. Lights and siren to the ER. Bad IV stick. Hallucinations (hers, not mine). High high fever. Forcing an exhausted kid to wake up many times throughout the night just to get poked, prodded, and interrogated. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting.

Ultimately, we were released around 3 AM. I called a few friends for a ride home, but no one answered at that crazy hour. I reached out to the local police department, and they kindly sent us an escort. Gia Quinn still talks of the ride home in the back of the cruiser as if it were on the level of a ride on Space Mountain at Disney. "It was so cool, Denna! He even put on the lights for a second!" she bragged to her twin the next day.

I'm happy to report that Gia Quinn has not had another seizure since that day, thank God. But not a day goes by that I don't think of Dennehy's life saving act.

"Why did you pull her head up out of the water?" I asked Righty that next morning. "I don't know, Mom! I just did!" she said. She seemed worried that she had done something wrong to cause Gia Quinn's seizure.

"Do you realize what you did, Denna?"


"You saved her life, sweet-patootie."

"I did?"

"Yes. You did. And no words can express to you how grateful Daddy and I are." I was hugging her, of course. I could tell that she didn't fully grasp the gravity of the situation she had just emerged from, valiantly.

So while my husband worked last night -- the eve before the first anniversary of Dennehy Day -- the twins and I spent the night celebrating. We dined, we danced (to "Cool and the Gang"), and we made cookies. We stayed up late and watched "Room on the Broom." We read "Olivia" books. (We captured some of this on video, just in case you're interested:

And I prayed; I gave thanks. Because one year ago today, I learned that there was new meaning to why I had twins. Righty and Lefty are here for each other. And Righty? Righty was meant to be Lefty's hero that night.

And that is why today is Dennehy Day.

May you be surrounded by the love of family,

For more pictures from the day Righty saved Lefty:

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