A little something from my dark side….
Public humiliation, lying on a bathroom floor, and then hours in a hospital bed not knowing what year it was but worrying about how to pay for the ambulance cost – unfailingly practical, even during an altered state. A month lost while my 23 year old body recovered.
The fear of experiencing another misfire lessened as time moved along. “Abnormal grey matter” was the diagnosis given after multiple MRI’s.
Five years passed between that first seizure and the second one.
When I was 28 my darling little Ava came along, and although all six doctors and nurses were prepared for a seizure during labour nothing manifested. Until one day ten weeks later it did. From my sleep early one rainy morning I awoke to two paramedics staring at me and a teary eyed husband. Apparently, after feeding the baby and tucking her in to sleep, I slept a short time before becoming conscious again. Ten minutes lapsed before I remembered who my husband was. Then I went to the hospital in the ambulance, and my thoughts were centered on providing milk for Ava’s next feeding. Practical Jenny expressed milk on her bed in the middle of the emergency room.
Three years passed between seizures two and three.
At 4 AM one morning I opened my eyes to my husband leaning over the bed. The dim nightlight in the hall behind him cast an eerie glow. “You had another seizure. I’ll stay home from work today.” was all he had to say. I lay awake staring at the ceiling until the sun came up. Ava woke up to a seemingly regular morning with Daddy as a caregiver and Mommy quietly blending into the surroundings.
I decided months after number three to tell Ava about my seizures. I felt she needed to know what to do if Mommy started having convulsions. So I shared my secret with a three year old child. I selfishly, or unselfishly, unloaded the truth onto her shoulders.
Ava asked what it would look like if Mommy seized. She wanted to know the steps to follow, and practice them. I pretended to twitch on the floor, and Ava rolled me onto my side. We talked about what she should say to strangers if I blacked out in public. Now Ava is the practical one.
It was humbling as an adult to momentarily feel as if my child was mentally stronger than me. It’s one thing to potentially have my husband talk me through a wash of mental sludge post seizure, but a little one? I am an otherwise together woman who may, or may not start writhing in pain without warning. A woman who kicks the blankets off her feet and gives her husband a coronary because he wakes suddenly thinking she’s seizing. I carry guilt for creating fear for my family, and guilt for seizures I’ve never had – that may lurk around the corners of my future.
Living in constant worry is out of the question. Perhaps I will drop to the ground in the middle of walking Ava to school, or on a bus ride, or while making lunch. It is out of my control – and I am always in control.