Walls Work Two Ways

I ordered this shirt for Rose. She has hit a rough patch.

When she called several days ago she was upset.

Someone she trusted had hurt her.

She said she had put some walls back up.

I have been thinking about those walls.

She has had to protect herself from harm more than most.

It’s a fact of life for her.

Like someone saying they were putting on a raincoat when it rains.

She just does it when it needs to be done.

But those walls work two ways.

What keeps others away from you, also keeps you away from others.

Rose knows this. She went and had words with this person.

Some of those walls will remain. Rose is savvy about some things.

Trust must be earned.

Some walls need to stay where they are.

I was just glad to hear that she had torn down some old walls while off at the university.

Watching Rose Rise make me proud.

Seizure Mama

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Story #33: Bike Wreck in South Dakota

Our family took a three-week trip across the country to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. Our son was in high school and Rose was in middle school. It was the perfect time to take such a trip. Our children were mature enough to handle the long hours on the road. I will always remember things about this trip that shaped our future. It really was a defining time for our family. There were obstacles. We handled them as a family.
We drove our truck and tent-camped most of the time. When we arrived at our first camping spot, Flagg Ranch, we got out of the truck to see the most vivid double rainbow I have ever seen. We thought we had lucked in to the perfect campsite. We had two tents, one for sleeping and the other for all our supplies. We did not enjoy a restful time here, however. First, it was hard to sleep due to a park ranger’s loud truck circling the campground all night on bear patrol. When a rain storm came during the second night, we realized that our prime site was a gully. Both tents filled up with water. We were forced to move camp in the dark during the rain. We spent most of the night in the laundry building drying our sleeping bags. Other campers doing late-night laundry let us use up the remaining time on their dryers. This was on my birthday. It was amazing. We were an invincible team.
We moved around quite a bit during this three-week-long trip. I kept hauling an especially heavy bag of Rose’s in and out of the truck. Finally, I asked her what was in there. “ My shoes” she replied. “ How many pairs of shoes did you bring?” I asked. “ seven” she said. “ Why on earth did you bring seven pairs of shoes?” I asked. Her response was “ You told me to.” While she was packing for the trip she asked how many pairs of shoes she should take, I replied “ several,” but Rose heard “ seven.” This was one of those times when we suspected that a hearing aid was in her future.
Our family toured around Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the Badlands and Devil’s Tower. The only health issue Rose had for most of the trip was hiccups. The hiccup spells would last for long periods of time. It was a side effect of one of her medications. Epilepsy did not show up until we got to South Dakota. We camped at Custer State Park after visiting Mount Rushmore. It was a lovely place, but nowhere near a hospital, or anything else.
Rose and her brother were riding bikes around the campground while my husband and I fixed supper. We saw our son speeding toward us alone and knew that Rose had just had a seizure.
(Pause here. We are in South Dakota, near nothing, letting our daughter with epilepsy ride her bike. Were we crazy? Were we foolhardy, negligent, stupid?  No. We were living our lives. Epilepsy is like a terrorist waiting to attack. You can’t hide from it. It will come when it comes. We refused to keep sitting around waiting for the next seizure. Been there, done that.)

We jumped in the truck and drove to Rose. We hauled her and her bike back to camp. We waited for her to come to. We were concerned about broken bones. She was wearing a helmet, so probably no concussion. She had gravel in her knees. I was scared to do anything until she regained consciousness.
When she came to, we assessed the damages. No broken bones. Then it was time to deal with those knees. This part of the story always gets Rose a little mad. We had to carefully pick gravel out of her knees and bandage them. It was a painful process. She was upset with us that we had not taken care of this task while she was unconscious.

Seizure Mama speaks to parents:

We could have stayed home and waited for the next seizure. We could have forbidden Rose to ride her bike. She could have sat around the campsite watching her brother whiz past. But this is our life. Our family needed adventure and joy. We were going to live our lives to the fullest despite our fears. In those three weeks of wonder, we had one seizure and a lot of hiccups. That could have happened at home, but instead we got to see a spectacular double rainbow, Old Faithful, Mount Rushmore, a grizzly bear, and thousands of bison.
Get out there. Pack this damn epilepsy and go. But leave those seven pairs of shoes at home.

Crunch Time for Rose

I have learned not to worry about Rose.

After twenty-four years of being Seizure Mama, it’s a necessity for my own survival.

I am very aware of the stress level of college students right now.

I used to teach college biology, so I understand that this part of the semester

is a race to the finish line for students.   Actually, there are four or five finish lines.

Add in spring fever, plans for summer trips and  a summer job

and you have a tornado of stress.

We know what that means.

I am thankful that Rose is an experienced student who does not procrastinate.

I count on her to make good decisions.

She is in charge of herself. My worrying will not do anything but harm me.

Still.   I plan to keep very busy these next four weeks.

Just in case I try to wander into the “Worry Maze.”

(That’s what I call it when the “What Ifs” try to sneak into my thoughts.)

STUDENTS with seizures: Take care of yourselves until the semester ends.

Good sleep, good food, good exercise, study in spurts. No 24 hour marathons.

PARENTS:  This is their ball game. Stay in the stands.

Seizure Mama

Blog or Bottle?

I used to feel like I might as well write my Seizure Mama posts on a note,

put it into a bottle and toss it into the sea.

But I knew better than this, so I have to share a story with you.

My other blog, floweralley.org, was a slow starter. That was almost four years ago.

I kept posting to myself for months.

I pretended my best gardening buddy was out there waiting to hear what I was planting.

I pretended they needed to know how to plant and tend their gardens.

I pretended that somebody out there needed me.

Then it happened, ever so slowly.

There were real gardening buddies waiting. They appeared from everywhere.

Every day I shared numbers and locations with my family, when they got home from their busy lives. I mattered. I was a gardening somebody. I was not alone.

Now, there are hundreds of followers.  I know them. I love them.

Now,  “The Flower” hums along with likes and comments. I hear from friends every day.

I am telling this for those of you that I follow who only have a double digit of followers right now. (Seizure Mama only has 16.)

DO NOT GIVE UP!

I read your words. You are saying something important. Really important.

Way more important than gardening.

You are doing a good job. I am sincere in this.

I am older. I have been where you are.

It will get better. You will get noticed.

Folks will hear your words, if they are true and heart-felt.

If I am following you, I consider your posts are worth my limited time.

No bottles needed.

Keep posting Amanda, Yaelle, Laura, Alec, Charlotte, Maria, Emma, Kevin, Clare, Dave and David.

(If I left out your name, forgive me. I haven’t finished my coffee yet.)

We are a team. Epilepsy people need us. We got this!

Everybody’s Mama/Flower

 

Story #32: The Cyst and the Scissors

We went back to our favorite medical complex for a kidney stone recheck about a year after the initial stone was found. At that point, Rose had been off drug 6Z. She had spent months drinking lemonade made from fresh lemons. She had been through various tests for conditions that might have contributed to the stone issue. All tests were normal. The new drug 7Z was not as great as 6Z, but that is a different story. We expected the “all clear” from the urologist after this visit.
Rose and I went back to a room for the ultrasound. Her dad stayed in the waiting area to read and nap. We knew this would take a while. Rose got comfortable on the bed as she was slathered with warm gel. Another spa treatment with a hefty price tag. The technician began rubbing her wand around Rose’s midsection. I watched the gray screen of the monitor. The young lady would rub Rose as she looked at the screen and click on the keypad to take pictures and measurements. Rub and click, rub and click. Pause.
The technician excused herself to us. She returned with her supervisor. The two discussed things quietly as they pointed to the screen. They asked Rose to roll to a different position. Rub and click. Rub and click. The first young lady left and brought a doctor back with her. There were more quiet discussions in front of the screen.
About this time Rose’s sleepy dad appeared in the room with us. Someone had gone out to the waiting room to get him. We knew something was coming. More stones? Really? Making all that lemonade for nothing?
No, it was not a stone. A mass had been found on her ovary during the procedure. The bad news was, it was about the size of a tin can. The good news was it looked hollow and was probably harmless. This is when Rose’s dad and I looked at each other and laughed. Crazy right? The poor child’s parents are laughing like a joke had just been told.
Surgery was scheduled for the coming weeks. Same hospital. We hoped it was a benign mass. We hoped that the surgery would not cause damage to the ovary. There would be a big scar. No matter.
We were once again among other parents with sick children. The other children had conditions that were much more serious than a cyst. We felt blessed to be in a good place to get this taken care of. We would get through this.
Rose’s dad and I took turns staying with Rose. We would see the familiar faces of other parents in the elevators and hallways. We lugged supplies and laundry in rolling baskets and colorful luggage. You could recognize other caregivers by their luggage and tiredness, sleep-deprived sentries silently going about their duties.
Rose saw the surgeon again for a recheck before she could be released. She lay on the examining table as he poked at her incision site. There was some swelling. He opened a new pair of scissors and made a hole in the stitched line in Rose’s abdomen to let the wound drain as Rose watched with fascination. That is the kind of patient she was. Watching and learning. Patient and student all in one.

Seizure Mama speaks to parents:

You do not need to look far to find someone who has more problems than you do. Every time we went into a hospital, we left feeling lucky. Remember this if you feel the need to have a “pity party” with a stranger while in a hospital.
As I was loading Rose’s clothes and games out of the hospital, I rode down in the elevator from the pediatric floor with another mother. She was obviously moving her child out, also. We had passed each other numerous times in the previous days. I looked at her luggage and exclaimed, “Hooray, we both get to go home.” “We are headed to hospice.” was her reply.

Story #31: Shoveling Sand and the Stones

Kidney stones in a ten-year-old girl are quite unusual, but this was an unusual girl. The kidney stone that blocked Rose’s ureter was surgically removed. The other was later pulverized by lithotripsy. Rose was sent to yet another specialist in another city. This urologist happened to be at the medical complex where Rose was now a regular as an epilepsy patient. We joked that she was like the character “Norm” in the sitcom Cheers when she arrived, “Everybody knows her name.” Our little sickly celebrity.
Rose’s trips to the specialist included bringing a jug of urine which had been collected with the help of a big “plastic hat” in the toilet. The jug was kept in the refrigerator. Urine in the refrigerator, hats in the bathroom – ours was not a usual home.
The chemical content of the removed stones would give us some indication of what might be causing them. We  would learn later that the culprit was our latest beloved drug 6Z. We wanted to keep Rose on this drug because it was actually working. Could we keep the drug, despite its causing the stones?
The urologist’s response to that question was that we would end up “shoveling sand against the tide.” He described the stint that had been removed after her kidney stone surgery as being completely encrusted with crystals. The stones were definitely a side effect of her medication. Seizures or stones. Those were our choices.
Now that we knew the cause of the kidney stones, we had to go back to her new neurologist to pick out a new epilepsy medication. Rose was weaned down on drug 6Z and drug 7Z was added to her daily cocktail. Would this new drug control her seizures? Would it bring new side effects? We never dreamed what would happen next. We were getting used to expecting the unexpected, but even I got blown away by this next event.

Seizure Mama speaks to parents:

We were way out of our league by this point. I knew nothing about kidney stones. I did not understand how an anti-epilepsy drug could cause them. It has taken me years of reading to know what I know, which is still very little. Drugs contain the compounds that perform certain functions and other parts that are in the mix for other reasons. I think of them as dirty drugs. The part that stops the seizures is the good part. The part that causes the side effects is the dirty part. You can keep asking questions of the specialists, but you probably won’t understand the answers. Do not get frustrated with them or yourself. Sometimes you just have to trust these folks that have spent years studying something that has just appeared on your radar.