Friday, November 09, 2018

Life Usually Has Other Plans

For the past week, I’ve been stressing out over an upcoming event: my return to the dating pool. I can’t say that my swim went well. First, I paced back and forth on the pool deck, eyeing the water suspiciously. Then I stuck a toe in, but quickly retreated to a safe distance. Wet! It was much too wet. Then I shook myself off, scheduled my swim, awaited my moment, and dressed for the occasion. I even took a selfie to send to my daughters before I took the plunge.

In the photo, I’m so nervous in my bathing suit, I don’t recognize the man looking back at me. There’s something wrong with his face. He doesn’t look anything like me. It might be his rigor mortis smile, or the overly pink complexion moments before he begins to steam from apprehension. Whatever is ailing him, it doesn’t matter. Life managed to keep him away from the water 35 minutes before he was scheduled to dive in.

The school gave me a call seconds after I took the selfie. My daughter was having a breakout seizure.

I recorded the following to Facebook on my way to the Brownie’s high school. For some reason I chose to use text-to-speech in Facebook. Maybe it was the app already open on my iPhone at that moment. Maybe I just wasn’t thinking clearly. Regardless, here’s what I said:

On my way to the high school instead of a date. The Brownie is having a seizure. It’s a rotten timing. It’s taken her years to be ready for me to date. And now, this happens. Hopefully, she’s all right. I’ll keep you updated. If you are friends or family, please let others know thank you bye

I later posted to Facebook that I shouldn’t dictate messages during an emergency. Text requires care to communicate tone. But I think my exasperation came through just fine. I was worried my date triggered her seizure. I was feeling frustrated and guilty all at the same time.

So why did I think this was about me and not her? To say she’s not been open to me dating since the divorce would be an understatement. Despite their mother remarrying quickly after our divorce, my youngest two daughters entered a state of abject terror whenever I mentioned the D-word. The decision was a simple one. I chose not to date for the past seven years. My second youngest daughter finally deigned to allow me to date once she got her first boyfriend, but my youngest remained adamant: NO DATING! Years passed, and I thought she was finally ready because she’d been telling me it was okeh for me to date recently, and she wasn’t upset about my upcoming date at all. Then this happened.

Her seizures for the past year have mostly been anxiety panic conversion disorder episodes taking the well-worn neurological path of seizures from birth. They’re non-epileptic, but still legitimate seizures. Part of me wondered if maybe she wasn’t okeh with the date after all. Maybe this episode was the result. That’s what I was thinking when I recorded the message above.

Then I arrived at the school.

Paramedics were already on the scene. A secretary was waiting for me out in the hall. In the school’s main office, my daughter lay on the floor, crying and incoherent. She was agitated, disorientated, and thrashing about, making it difficult for the paramedics to inject her with midazolam, a common sedative for seizures. You haven’t seen needle skill until you’ve watched a paramedic move his body to track a flailing arm to prevent a needle snapping. This was the post ictal phase of an epileptic seizure for my girl. There was no denying it now. The epileptic seizures were back.

Two days have passed since that moment, and my body hasn’t returned to normal. We spent only two hours in the hospital, and the Brownie has slept well and recovered, but I’m still a wreck. I picked up a bug at the hospital. My week’s plans have been obliterated. I’m frustrated, but not at her, poor thing. I am frustrated at how selfish I sounded in that initial post. I am frustrated with my fragile self. I am frustrated that my control over ADHD is still susceptible to random events because my week is in tatters. I am frustrated that my health is so lousy despite the hours and hours of exercise I have been doing all Summer long. I am frustrated that I am not perfect, something I know logically I cannot achieve, but emotionally I demand of myself.

That’s why I’m blogging this. This is my therapy. I write about what troubles me in a creative, and hopefully, entertaining way so that I wash away my discouragement. I do it to help me see things in perspective. For every person who reads my blog and thinks I’m no big deal, there are others who are looking for the human touch while they struggle with issues that overwhelm them. They aren’t alone. We’re all on the same path. Some of us are further ahead than others, but it’s common decency to look back and offer a hand—the same type of hand that others have offered ourselves. It helps us not feel sorry for ourselves. It helps us find the strength to move forward. Life is hard for everybody to deal with. Disability just adds flavor to the dysfunction.

And now I feel better. It’s time to mimic my daughter’s resilience in my own life. I have articles to write and a book awaiting my attention. It’s also time to suit back up and go for a swim.

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