Where should I start? The first time I experienced a seizure? The first time I was diagnosed with psychogenic seizures by that awful neurologist? What about beginning with my sojourn in the epilepsy monitoring unit, several years into my recovery?
There’s so much to this story, so many twists and turns. Whenever I think about the topic, my emotions dart all over the place—frustration, anger, and resentment, grief and sadness, and finally relief that for the most part, I’ve come to terms with the whole story.
Standing in line behind her in Starbucks, I observed her as she leaned nonchalantly against the counter. I knew that stance—that was me, more than a decade ago, the slight swaying in the nonexistent breeze, the carefully annunciated speech, and the slow response to the barista’s terse questions. There was no doubt—this tall, skinny, unkempt woman was a brain injury survivor, in her early days of recovery.
We had to take a COVID test within 72 hours of travel, i.e. on Friday morning. Uh oh—the results were only guaranteed to arrive within one to two business days. I.e. there was a distinct possibility that they wouldn’t arrive before our flight.
Then came the day when we were both fully vaccinated—we could resume our walks. Speaking on the phone, finalizing our plans for a walk in the nearby nature reserve, it sudden
She lived happily ever after.
Or so she thought
Brain bleeds and subsequent surgeries ended the life she knew and her dreams of the future.
In the wake of the surgeries, she struggled to reclaim her place in the world, to regain the life she lost.
I’m sure that some point soon, I will feel comfortable grocery shopping. I try to tell myself that I will be able to visit my parents in the foreseeable future. I hope that the hatred will wane, that it isn’t symptomatic of the beginning of the breakdown of society.
I fought to zero in on the technician’s voice. “Her head is down. So that’s good news.”
Where did she see the head? Up or down, all I could see were shapeless blobs. She was saying something else. I tried to focus on her words. Perhaps she’d clue me into the secret language of the ultrasound.
I’ve never really like crowds. But now, unlike in my pre-bloody brain life, I can’t tolerate them. I can’t process high volumes of information in a timely fashion. All data comes in with equal value, whether it is a loud shriek or a soft murmur. All colors seem garish, blinding, and all tactile input is harsh to the touch. Everything is a blur, without shape, chaotic. I can’t make order out of the chaos. I have nothing to anchor me and my incoherent thoughts. My brain lacks the ability to file information away under recognizable labels.
Gus’s a funny little thing, a mutt, smarter that I could have imagined. He teases me, changing the rules of games as we play, laughing at me from the top of the steep hill in my back yard, squeaking his toy as he tries to tempt me to clamber up the slippery slope to wrestle the toy away from him.
I remember that they called for some sort of code. I remember wondering whether the code was for me. I also remember convulsing, and feeling a hand on my shaking leg and a voice saying, “It’s okay.” The next thing I remember was a near death experience, and then waking up to a dark room, puzzled.
According to Cindy, there was a crash cart. How did she know? Was bringing one standard when they called for a code? Did they use it?