Wednesday, October 14, 2015

We Live. We Survive. We Carry On.

Wiped Out from Her Seizure
I thought that with fourteen hours of sleep, the Brownie would have avoided neurological problems yesterday. That's how things have always been in the past. If she woke up with her head spinning, we knew that a seizure was coming. That's what happened yesterday morning. I let her go back to bed, but couldn't wake later. She was unresponsive. When she finally woke up at noon, her head seemed fine.
Unfortunately, at 9:20pm last night, she began a seizure. It came on rapidly. Within five minutes she couldn't see, and her arms began curling and shaking. She told me repeatedly that she couldn't see until the tongue ticking stopped her from talking. Then the breathing difficulty began. I applied her VerSed, but the onset of symptoms outpaced it's effects. Soon, I had to breathe for her. Between breaths, I struggled with Siri to place an emergency call for me, then just manually dialed 911, but by the time the call connected, her seizure stopped as suddenly as it came on. The seizure lasted only ten minutes, but what a hard ten minutes. She began breathing again, and instantly fell asleep.

After verifying my name and address, the 911 operator told me that I didn't have to be afraid now. I told her that I was not. Such seizures are routine for me. I even took the paused breathing in stride. When the paramedics arrived, there wasn't anything they could do. I let them check my daughter's vitals, but everything had returned to normal. One of the paramedics suspected that the VerSed caused her to stop breathing. Apparently, it's a side-effect. However, it's never behaved that way before with the Brownie. Besides, she was having difficulty breathing before I applied the medicine.

Now that it's 1am, and I've watched three hours of TV in a stupor, I'm ready to admit that the seizure affected me more than I let on—even to myself. When a seizure happens, I dampen my fear and push it far below the surface so that I can take care of my daughter's needs. Boy Scouts, lifeguard training, my mother's medical experience, and my own brother's epilepsy have trained me to remain calm during a crisis. I keep my cool. However, my heart still takes a blow even if I ignore it at the time.

Now the Brownie sleeps peacefully in the other room. She'll likely not attend school tomorrow and consequently fall further behind. She's missed so much school already this year, but it's not like there's anything I can do about it. Just last week her neurologist admitted that she's likely part of the one third of epileptics who are resistant to treatment. However, as an experiment (with her mother's and doctor's approval) I didn't dispense her Chinese medicine this week because we thought she was plateauing. We were going to try one week with medicine, and the next without. This seizure could be a result of that change, or it could be unrelated. It's hard to know these things. What I do know, however, is that the Western medicine, Vimpat, isn't working. That medicine is all she's taken this week.

We switched to eastern medicine when she was seven precisely because western medicine didn't stop her seizures. The herbal tincture she took reduced her seizures by half. Only since our car accident has her seizure activity returned to the increased frequency of old, and even then her Chinese medicine slowed her seizures down once we adjusted the blend for the new conditions. Perhaps now that she's had seizures with western meds for the past six months, the smug teachers, doctors, and family members will be less judgmental now. They like to point their fingers and say "Aha!" as if the Brownie's continued epilepsy is evidence of her parent's moronic belief in alternative medicine. People can be so cruel, even family members.

It's more fun when my legs do it.

But none of that matters. All I'm worried about now is my poor darling and how scared she is during these blasted seizures. As the seizure began to worsen last night, and her hands began to tic and curl, I couldn't help but see myself in her. This filled me with such a profound feeling of helplessness.

These past few days have been rough ones for me neurologically. In the picture above you see my left arm in the process of rotating. It's only rotated 95-100°, but it feels like 180°. This is not a position that I'm forcing myself to be in by pressing on the arm rest. It's a painful tic, especially when it locks that way and the muscles begin to scream and burn. When this happened Monday night, the Brownie tried to massage my arm to relax the spasming, but there was nothing she could do. Sometimes I can boost my protein intake, drink some OJ, and keep the ticking at bay. If stress is causing me to tic, I take meditative breaths and will myself to relax. However, sometimes I just tic, and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

One day later and the roles were reversed with me being the one helplessly standing by as my daughter's brain had its mental earthquake. I share all of this with you so that you can see that sometimes we cannot stop our ADHD, chronic depression, bipolar disorder, or any other mental malady from happening, but we can square our shoulders and take them on. We live through the experience. We survive. Then we dust ourselves off and carry on. Chronic conditions take their toll emotionally and physically, but a good attitude will reduce them into insignificant moments instead of scarring events.

And now I'm off to bed. Who knows what tomorrow will hold? All I know is that I'll be ready for it.