Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A very bad, no good day.

One year ago last Wednesday, I had a seizure on the 17 on the way home from work, which is something I'd never before done in in public, much less by myself. I'm not talking about one of my little mini-seizures. Over the years, I've had those in all kind of places. Those are easy enough to hide: just a bit of speech mess-up and some memory problems, sometimes with a headache to follow - no big deal. In fact, it always gives me a bit of a charge to be able to sneak it by. It's kind of a shout out to my roots, from those days before diagnosis, before meds, before knowing what was wrong with me. Those little ones aren't fun, but most of the time I can handle them, and they play a part in who I am.

This was one different. This one was a reminder that epilepsy is about unpredictability, and a lack of control. It was one of those really big ones, formerly known as grand mal, now more correctly called tonic-clonic. "Tonic" means stiffening, and "clonic" means shaking. Anyway you label it, it blows, and it's pretty impossible to hide.

So, I was on the bus, it was a hot day, I was reading a book I didn't really like, and a little seizure started up. I was a bit surprised and disoriented, which might be why I didn't shake it off. I think I've actually been spoiled by Lucky's skill in snapping me out of these. Now, it seems that I'm a bit lost on my own. I was aware of what was going on until we turned onto Broadway, and drove a few more blocks. At that point, I lost about two minutes. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the same spot, but the people around me all looked horribly uncomfortable, and they were staring at anything but me. The only person paying attention was a woman who sat beside me, rubbing my hand and speaking in a low voice. I couldn't understand her, but I knew that she cared, and that she was very, very worried. It was at about that time that I saw some men in uniforms boarding the bus, and it was obvious that they were coming for me. Since I couldn't understand what was being said to me, and since I couldn't seem to get myself to talk, I based my analysis of the situation on the reactions of the people around me. With that, I assumed that the men in uniforms were police, and the woman beside me was trying to tell me as gently as possible that I was being taken away to jail, forever. It's funny what your brain will do.

Over the next half hour, as they got me off the bus, loaded me into the ambulance, and took me to VGH, I gradually came back to myself, and I realized that I'd had a seizure, which was slightly better than being mistakenly arrested and locked away for a crime I did not commit. Even as my head cleared, I was stuck with some of the guilt and misunderstanding, which is why, when I called Lucky to tell him where I was, I mistook his panic for anger, and immediately started to apologize for dragging him to the ER. I'm still sorry.

I'm being a bit harsh on all those people on the bus. A seizure is a scary thing to see, I know. I found out from the paramedics that the woman beside me was a nurse from Britain who was sight-seeing with her husband, and took charge when someone yelled for medical help. I wish I could thank her. Someone else wrapped up my iPod and put it back in my purse, and that same person was probably also the one who slipped my bookmark into my book, before putting it away as well. I thought about those things when I got back on the same bus, with the same commuters a week later.

I started trying to write this down the Monday before last, and it's taken me this long. I don't like to think about these things, but they are in my head - literally, I guess.

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