Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Brain Malfunction

Today I had a seizure.

It's been a bit of a while I guess (a good couple of weeks), so maybe I should have seen it coming, but when it hit, it came completely out of the blue. One minute I was fine, happily playing with my two young children, the next - flump.

Every seizure is different. Some are short, violent affairs; others long, slow minutes of paralysis; still more are unpleasant mixtures of the two. This time, sat propped afainst the sofa, my head fell back and my eyes closed, as my body slumped. my son, O, came over and said "Mummy, wake up," a few times, clambering on and off my lap while he tried to get me to play with him (he is two), while my daughter, M, sat in her bouncy chair, unaware of what was going on, as far as I know. She is three months old.

I'm not sure how long it was before my partner (and carer) W noticed. Perhaps a minute or so. The seconds blur and merge with minutes in my memory while I'm fitting, sometimes shrinking, sometimes stretching out and doubling or tripling the percieved time I am 'out'. W rushed over, of course, and made sure our children were safe. This is why he cannot work - although 99% of the time I am fit and healthy, that remaining 1% when I am a hazard to myself and them could come at any time. Ironically, I would be safer at work, though no one wants to hire me.

My eyes opened at some point, after I slumped forwards and hit my head on the floor, but before W was able to lie me on my side.They screamed for me to blink, but until that particular spasm passed remained open, unfocused and staring straight ahead into W's body. It is disconcerting to be able to see but not choose where your eyes are directed. Much as it is disconcerting to watch and feel your body doing things you have no wish for it to do, such as tremor, spasm and jerk violently.

Now I remember. Before W was able to lay me on the floor, my right arm curled up and over my shoulder, straining to contort in peculiar shapes. I remember this because it was stretched to its limit, pulling on my joints to bend further. My eyes also rolled, and mercifully closed, and I think my son tried to climb on me again, because something pressed down on my legs. W was shouting at him to mind out of the way, at any rate, in between reminding me to breathe. This time I was able to comply. On other occasions I was not, and had to be nudged, hard, in the ribs.

My arms and legs continued to spasm for some time, and M began to cry. She was hungry; wanting milk. She would have to wait for a few more minutes, for although the seizure was reaching its end, I was still unable to respond other than by briefly squeezing the hand W put into mine. First my body stilled and went limp, then, gradually, normal brain function resumed. Speech came after movement, this time. Sometimes it's the other way round.

Finally, head aching, I felt able to lift myself and sit on the sofa. After another minute or two I was back to normal, and able to hoik up my top to feed M. At least the accompanying tiredness which follows my seizures is something I'm used to as a parent anyway. Before I made it up there, O had given me a cuddle and told me he loved me, happy now that Mummy was back to normal. W told me that this time M looked concerned while it happened. I don't think I've had one while she's been awake before, so that's not surprising I guess.

So now? Now I get back to the business of looking after two children, jot down the date, and mark it as 365 days before I can start the process of reclaiming my driving license (as the timer resets each time I have a seizure, I don't expect to reach this goal any more). I'll chalk it up to the epilepsy which has more or less defined my life since I was nineteen.

Then I'll wonder in the back of my mind how long the countdown to the next seizure will last.

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