I paused and thought about it as I stood in front of the stove reaching in the cupboard above for a cookbook.
"I can't remember."
Four years ago, my oldest son took me by the hand and led me to the couch. I sat down and in a daze I realized my tongue was sore, extremely sore. My head spun and my temples began to throb with an oncoming giant of a headache. I didn't recognize the fact that my five young children, the oldest being nine years old, my youngest only three, were all scared, crying and in shock. Slowly, the realization that I had just had a grand mal seizure began to sink in. I felt sick to my stomach, both from the seizure itself and from learning that my children had witnessed it for the first time.
It had been at least 12 years since I first found out I was epileptic. Still, to this day, although I have to take anticonvulsants twice a day, I can't even call myself by that word...epileptic. To me, the definition of that word is "someone who seizes uncontrollably all the time and has to take the bus and wear a helmet everywhere she goes." That's not a title I want to wear. The truth is (and this is a hard pill to swallow) I am epileptic, but I thank the Good Lord everyday that He has kept me safe and has allowed my seizures to be medically controlled. As long as I take my pills religiously, day and night, I am seizure free.
Going back to the night my kids saw me have a seizure for the first time...I have been thinking about that night a lot because for some reason my children have been talking about it recently. Hearing them describe the moments of time that are lost to me forever gives me the chills. I try to put myself in their shoes and can very easily imagine how horrified they were.
We were sitting around the table eating dinner. That is where my memory escapes me. I remember nothing else until I was brought back to consciousness standing in front of the stove. The only other thing I could tell you is my tongue was swollen and hurt like heck and all I wanted to do was go to sleep.
This is the kids' version, told to me by Samuel and Benjamin:
"We were sitting around the table eating dinner and then all of a sudden you got stiff and leaned over onto the windowsill. We all thought you were playing around but when you didn't stop when we asked you to, we started to get worried. Then you fell over onto the ground and began stiffly shaking. We saw blood drip out of your mouth and everyone started screaming. I (Sam) stepped outside because everyone was screaming and I had to get away from all the noise.
I (Ben) saw you stand up and thought you were fine, but then you went to the kitchen with a blank stare like you didn't recognize me. You went to this cupboard and began to look through these cookbooks that you never used. Sam said he was going to call 911 but you said, "No, I'm fine." and then you sat down on the couch and started to talk to us."
The thought of my babies having gone through such a terrifying scene saddens me. I was supposed to be their security, their safe haven, their rock.... but they witnessed my frailty. I had been low on my medication for weeks and was taking half my usual dosage and sometimes skipping a dose altogether at that point. I had had trouble with my medical insurance and my pharmacy, and half the time, since I was feeling fine, I didn't even think about taking my pills. This is the pitfall of being epileptic but having the seizures completely controlled by medication. Sometimes, it would be so long since my last seizure that I would start feeding myself the fallacy that I was fine and probably didn't need the medicine anymore. The truth is, I do. There have been too many close calls and too many scares for me to even go down that line of thinking anymore.
Having seizures has never scared me, how can I fear what I don't remember? The fear that my children have felt, however, thinking about that brings up an emotion I don't even have a word for. It is an emotion somewhere between heartache and horror. One thing, my kids do for me, however, is they tell me their fears without giving me their pity. This I can handle. I can help them calm their fears but I don't handle pity very well. I don't ever want anyone to say, "Poor you!" I don't want to look into well-meaning, though pitiful eyes that feel sorry for me.
Tonight, I had a scare of my own. While kneeling to pray the Rosary with our block Rosary group at my parent's house, Hunter fell flat on his face as we were praying the last prayers. I rushed to his side surprised, but knowing that he had fainted. He has a history of fainting, syncope they call it. But this time, as I tried to awaken him, he appeared to seize mildly, take a deep breath and then fall back into unconsciousness. He gradually, sluggishly came to, but it took him longer than I remember it taking him before. Getting him into the van, he was clinging to me as though he could barely walk. When we got home I opened the door and he was sprawled on the seat asleep. I had to wake him up again and guide him up the stairs and into his bed where he quickly fell back to sleep. I am praying he will feel fine in the morning.
Let's remember to thank our Guardian Angels for all the overtime they put in. I am convinced that not a day goes by that at least one of the six Angels that live in our household has not saved somebody's life without us even realizing it. Good night.