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This is a post I wrote on July 23, 2012: 18 days after Noah’s death. I had to remove it after posting on the advice of counsel, but since that is no longer applicable, I think it is ok to share this now. For those not as familiar with Noah or what happened that day, this may shed some light for you. Thank you for reading and for supporting our family.

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The guilt I have been feeling is intense. It takes so much energy trying not to replay the day of the accident and the events that followed over and over in my mind. The “what if’s” and “if only’s” haunt me constantly and not just the obvious ones: What if I hadn’t taken the dog to the vet that afternoon? What if I had made something else for dinner? Would it have made a difference? I know I shouldn’t punish myself, but it seems so far beyond unfair that I am breathing air right now. That I was breathing air while my baby’s lungs were filling with water just feet away from me. And I couldn’t even see it.

Water. Such a vital element for our bodies. Our resource for cleansing and washing; the most basic element for sustenance of our existence. Yet so completely deadly at the same time.

I wonder what it feels like to breathe water…and hope that my little Noah didn’t suffer. That the water was somehow kind to him and didn’t cause him too much pain. I wish I could have been there to stop it, even if just to ease the pain or hold him. I’m sorry and ashamed that I didn’t get in the water and search for him there. It was the last place I could have ever imagined he would go: beneath the surface of the water:

Noah hated getting his head wet, even in the bath. Over the course of three years of swimming lessons he finally got to a point where he would put his face in the water, briefly, but he never submerged his whole head. He never dared to get anywhere near any kind of deep water. He knew where the deep end of pools were and he steered clear. Even on occasions where I carried him to the 5 foot deep areas to play with him,  he would latch onto me so tightly that I often had bruises.

That day when we first got to the pool, he was playing Marco Polo with Zoe and Hannah until the girls started getting closer to the deep end. Then he wanted no part of it. Noah was the most careful child I have ever known. He was not outgoing when it came to that kind of thing. He never seemed to be too concerned with what others were doing and peer pressure couldn’t touch him. He wanted stability, assurance and safety at all times or you could count him out, no matter WHAT anyone else was doing!

Which is what makes this whole tragic incident so confusing. The only explanation we have been able to come up with is that he may have had a seizure while in the pool. Noah experienced Atypical Absence seizures about twice a year since he was about 3 years old. He underwent EEG testing, etc. but results were always inconclusive (pretty typical for those tests). And putting Noah through the prep for that test was just hell for all involved. I mentioned above that Noah hated getting his head wet, but he hated anything or anyone even touching his head, let alone a nurse using smelly glue to stick electrodes to his head.

We were offered seizure medication for him, but declined it for several reasons: the side effects were not worth the benefit, he only had these incidents about once or twice a year, and since he had Absence Seizures vs. Grand Mal seizures, he wasn’t at risk for any type of head injury or tongue swallowing like when there is thrashing involved. Plus, he may grow out of it, they said. Noah’s seizures were mild: he would just get very tired and weak, he would be unresponsive when we spoke to him and he just seemed to kind of “space out.” The first couple of times it happened, I remember I just laid on his bed with him and watched him sleep, just to make sure he was ok. Once it passed he was tired, then was happy to go back to being his usual self the next day.

So when Jason told Noah’s behavioral psychiatrist about Noah’s accident, he immediately suspected a seizure. It had been over 103 degrees outside that day and we had driven one of our dogs to the vet in Odessa – about an hour each way. We stopped to pick up Zoe’s friend, went home and ate dinner before heading to the pool.
So we had been in and out of heat / air conditioning all evening, which is what behaviorist suspected to have triggered the seizure. It had been over a year and a half since his last episode, so we thought he had outgrown them. In fact, the possibility of a seizure didn’t even occur to me that day.

No one who was in the pool saw him. Three grown adults, including myself, didn’t see him in the pool. Two 14-year-olds and a six-year-old in the pool did not see him. At first, I thought he was hiding from me someplace, which he so loved to do. But when my shouts for him became increasingly frantic and panicked and he didn’t respond, my only thought was that he had been kidnapped. When I went to look outside my apartment, about 100 yards away,  thinking perhaps he was feeling left out and went home, I was at a loss for other places to look for him. When Zoe ran out and said “Mom he was in the pool” my response was “How was he hiding in the pool??” I was upset that he hid so well and didn’t respond when I called his name. How could he hide like that and make us run all over looking for him?? So when Zoe said, “No, Mom, they found him in the bottom of the pool”…I came undone.

That’s all I can handle writing right now.

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