Have you ever had one of “those” moments where you blanked on the name of a long-time friend, or forgot what you wanted to say in the middle of a sentence? Do you sometimes forget why you got up to go into another room, so you have to go back and start over? Have you ever looked at something you’re holding in your hand, and for a split second you didn’t know what it was or what it was for? Have you ever known with complete certainty that you know something, but your brain denies access? These are fairly benign incidents, but the realization that your brain is a little glitchy on occasion can be scary.
It’s even scarier to suddenly find yourself abandoned in a time or place that feels completely unfamiliar to you, and you have no idea how you got there. Trying to carry on is a function of survival, but you feel – lost.
It’s kind of like that feeling you get when the arrow on your GPS starts floating around in “nowhere land”. You have no idea where you are, or which direction you should be driving, but you keep driving, perhaps becoming increasingly frustrated at feeling so lost. You yell at the GPS, and maybe have a few choice words for other drivers around you who show no sympathy for your plight when you start driving erratically. It’s hard to carry on an angry monologue with your GPS and stay in your lane. Can’t they see what you’re dealing with? Why can’t they understand? Their voices are like horns blaring in your ears. Make it stop!
You catch a glimpse of your reflection in the mirror, and there’s a certain look in your eyes. That look of being lost. And confused. And frustrated. And angry. And frightened. Lia’s brain appears to misfire sometimes, and the look she gets is kind of like that.
The first time it happened, she was happily plowing through her favorite meal one minute, and in the next, her hands were trembling and she stared at her spoon like she had no idea what it was or why it was there. Then she looked at me and frowned like she was looking at a complete stranger. She had just put food into her mouth, but appeared to have forgotten how to chew or swallow. She would move her tongue and smack her lips a little, and then she started to drool like a fountain. I called her name and asked if she was OK, but it was as if she couldn’t understand anything I said to her. She dropped her head, resting her chin on her chest as if the last ounce of strength had drained from her. This was one of those times when less than two minutes felt like an eternity.
Then she snapped, and I thought I was in a “Carrie” sequel. Yeah, it was kind of like that. Everything in her mouth came flying out like bullets out of a machine gun. Then she screamed and gave me such a look. I can’t begin to describe the darkness in her eyes. I managed to dodge her attempts to dig her nails into my arm, but before I could stop her, she grabbed her bowl and hurled it across the room to the tune of her favorite expletives. And then, as suddenly as the aggression started, it stopped, and she started to cry. She cried as though she had lost the thing she loved most in the world. It was a pitiful, high-pitched wail followed by deep sobs. Ignoring the fact that she had just tried to rip the skin off my arms, I held them out and asked if she wanted a hug. She stopped wailing long enough to look at me and whimper, “Yeah.”
Lia was back to her old self within a few minutes. I got everything cleaned up and we moved forward with the rest of our day as if nothing had happened. I expected her to complain of a headache or something during her postictal phase, but she was fine. Because she was already being treated for a history of seizure activity, she wasn’t rushed to the ER, and we maintained observation at home.
It was the first time I had witnessed one of her seizures, and it was like nothing I had ever seen before. This prompted me to do some reading, because once again I found myself in territory where I had limited experience. There was a lot I didn’t really know, and I suspected we would travel that road again. I found this information on Epilepsy.com very useful in understanding the different types of seizure activity. And the lessons continue.