We all search for patterns in life. It is the way our brains allow us to navigate this crazy, complicated existence. As I have saved interesting cases over the years, I have been sensitive to certain patterns, coincidences.
Here are some stories that are not that amazing, on their own. But the coincidences are just too good to not notice and celebrate.
Two Febrile Seizures
Some young children suffer convulsions when they have a fever. It is not really known why this happens or why it doesn’t happen to older children or adults. Fortunately, it is a benign condition though it does scare the socks off of uninitiated parents. It is not a rare condition but most children who have a fever obviously do not suffer seizures. If one sibling in a family has had a febrile seizure, there is an increased risk that other siblings might also have one.
One night a young mother and father brought their two children into the emergency department for evaluation after both suffered febrile seizures the same day. I was wondering how in the world you would calculate the likelihood of that happening but it is amazingly unlikely.
I was taking care of a seventeen-year-old girl. She was a troubled soul being cleared for methamphetamine abuse so she could go to custody. The officer said she was a runaway and would be going back to Sparks, Nevada as soon as they could make the arrangements.
When I heard that, I told her I used to live in Sparks. I said, “I went to Alice Maxwell Elementary School.”
“So did I,” she said. Then she told me she lived on Sbragia Way! That is only three blocks away from our old house on 1165 Vance Way.
Now, what is the chance that I would have a patient who went to Alice Maxwell and even stranger that we would put it together?
Last week, in the middle of the night, I was hustling around seeing patients. When it was time to go see someone new, I noted two new patients had been placed in beds 1A and 1B, next to each other in the same room. I also noted they were both 3 month-old babies with fever. “Twins,” I thought.
Then I noted they had different last names. Of course, that slowed me down so I decided to check dates of birth. One was born 5/20 and the other 5/21. “Twins, one born just before, the other just after midnight? But with different names?”
Next, I decided to check the street addresses as a quick check. Wow. They both lived on the same street. As I went in to talk to the mother of the two kids, a boy and a girl, I was really interested to see what the story was.
In room 1A, I found a single mother with a baby girl. “Where is the other baby?” I asked. The mother gave me a confounded look and I am sure I was giving the same sort of look back at her. This forced me to do what I should have done in the beginning, check carefully until I understood what was up. Yes, different names, born one day apart, both with fevers, both lived on 9th street. But, Lucinda Garcia lived on 6353 8th Street and Jose Ramirez lived on 2735 8th Street! So, at the same time of the night, two babies with fevers, Hispanic names, born on consecutive days and lived on the same street were placed in the same room for me to care for. It is an amazing coincidence. Call me weird but I really like that sort of thing.
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