Remembering for Three

A pregnant woman eats for two.

That is important, but not as complicated as remembering for three.

I spent the last four days with my family.

This included my daughter, Rose, and my mother.

We can be called forgetting, forgetful and forgotten.

My mother is 87. She is forgetting the present. Her past is perfect.

I am 52 again. I am very distracted by life. I am forgetful.

Rose has spent most of her life on anti-seizure medications.

Most of those drugs did not stop her seizures, but did stop her memory.

Much of her childhood is forgotten..or remembered incorrectly.

It is hard to be me…remembering for three.

But we have each other right now.  We have now.

That is worth remembering.

Flower

Epilepsy Again

We thought we were done…but we were wrong.

Story 13:

Rose made it three years without a seizure. An EEG(electroencephalogram)was done. It was normal. She was weaned off of drug 3S during the summer. She grew taller, quicker, and smarter. We felt epilepsy was behind us. We believed the seizures were due to all those ear infections and fevers. Rose was growing and thriving. We were all relieved.
Rose started third grade without much worry. Everyone involved with her care knew her history. As a precaution, Rose’s medical information was shared with her new teacher. This young woman was very funny and enthusiastic. Rose’s classroom was near the office. Rose was happy.
We were all getting into our own grooves. Our lingering fear had loosened its hold on our family. I restarted my garden art business and began scheduling shows. My son was now in middle school leaving Rose at the elementary school without her big brother. No worries.
In mid- November, I had a two-day art show in a neighboring town about forty-five minutes from Rose’s school. Anytime I was away from Rose I wore a beeper and carried a bag phone. I can confidently say that her father and I, both at once, had not been this far from Rose since her diagnosis five years ago. Anytime I was away from her I wore a beeper and carried a bag phone.
The week of the show, Rose got another ear infection. She had hoped to go to her first sleepover at a friend’s house just across the road from our home. I was preparing for the show. Everyone was busy, too busy.
We kept Rose out of school on Thursday to recuperate and rest. She seemed to feel better. Friday morning was frantic. I gave Rose some over-the-counter NSAIDs(non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and her antibiotics. I also sprayed her nose with a sinus spray as her ear specialist had recommended. We thought we had covered all the bases,but gut was still screaming. This was too much at once; the two-day show, the sleepover and especially being far from Rose.
My husband and I delivered our two children to their separate schools. Then we headed to the town of the art show in separate vehicles. He was to help me unload my heavy pieces into my booth and immediately return home. As we were unloading my garden art, my beeper went off. I looked at the tiny screen. It displayed the number of Rose’s school with a 911 at the end. This was our agreed-upon signal to drop everything and run. I am so thankful we had this signal in place. I explained to the artists in the booth beside me that we had a medical emergency. They assured me that they would pile my art under the table and cover it. We jumped into our truck and my husband drove as I called the school.
Our friend in the office answered the phone. He said “It’s Rose. Get here quick.” I explained that we were headed up the interstate, but were forty minutes away. Our hazard lights were on and I was waving a white sheet of paper in the windshield. Still some people refused to pull over into the right lane. At one point we passed in the grass and lost a hubcap. The beeper kept going off. The calls kept coming: “What hospital do we take her to?” “How far away are you now?”

My one question was ”Is she still breathing?”

Seizure Mama speaks to parents:

Let’s play a different version of the terrible game we parents play, “Second Guess Yourself.” Only this time let’s change it from ‘What if I had…’ to “What if I had NOT…?”

Examining the events described above, what if I had NOT…

1. …let Rose’s teacher know that she had epilepsy.
2. …set up an alert system including beeper and phone. (This occurred before cell phones.)
3. …left an emergency bag in the office with emergency medications in it?

If I had chosen to hide Rose’s seizures to avoid the stigma, would she still be here?

The Art Stayed

Rose was home bound several times during her twelve years of public school.  It was during these periods that we saw her academic struggles up close.

She would go from knowing her multiplication tables to not remembering them, but the art stayed.

Rose could spell words one week and forget them the next, but the art stayed.

She would read a story and forget the names of the main characters, but the art stayed.

When everything else seemed to be flushed from her brain by seizures and side effects, she could still mix a perfect flamingo pink paint and create beauty with her shaky hands.

There were times when we gave up on academics and just did art.

When nothing would go in, the art still came out.

Her teachers were understanding through these roller coaster rides.

When she was stuck in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit for days at a time, Rose made hotmats. She asked the healthcare workers which colors they wanted and custom made them for people. It was a great way to keep her busy. The nurses and staff thought it was super cute.

When the academic struggles get to be too much for your child,

draw their spelling words, make a math collage, make up a story…

Sometimes it is better to pause than to pass.

Seizure Mama speaks to parents:

I am a former teacher. I knew how important it was for Rose to not fall behind in school.  I also knew how unimportant it was for Rose to fall behind in school.

While she was home bound in grades 3 and 4, her teachers and I refused to frustrate her by pushing the curriculum. One of her teachers said it was like trying to teach a blind person colors.

We worked to keep her moving forward in any way that worked. Art always worked. It was also a way to reassure all of us that Rose was still in there, through all the seizures and side effects.

They could have been terrible times, but we did not let them be terrible. Sometimes you have to let go of the agenda and go with the flow.

Seizure Mama/Flower Roberts

Epilepsy Blog Relay Post: June 23, 2019

 

 

My Hobby and My Mission

My hobby gives me so much joy.  It comes naturally to me. It’s easy.  It’s fun.

It is gardening.

I have chlorophyll in my blood. I come from a long line of plant people.

I love gardening and I love blogging about my garden.

My mission, on the other hand, is hard.  It causes me sorrow.

Twenty-four years of taking care of Rose while waiting for the next seizure or side effect was difficult.

Remembering these experiences is painful.

Writing about these struggles sends me back in the trenches.

Why do I do it?

Because I know how it feels to fight a losing battle; day after day after day…

I know how it is to feel unlucky, cursed and damned.

I can’t stand thinking that other mothers are doing it alone.

So I will stay the course.

Sending out a beam of light to a mama in her darkness.

Hang on Sister!  Flower is here.

Seizure Mama/Flower Roberts

The Technology Tumor

Long before the rest of the population was hooked up to technology,

Seizure Mama was wired.

My first two technology tumors were a beeper and bag phone.

For you young people, a bag phone back then weighed about thirteen pounds.

It was the size of an encyclopedia.

If there was an emergency with Rose,

the beeper went off with the number of the person who called.

I would unzip my “encyclopedia” and call them back.

I carried this phone in a giant purse or backpack everywhere I went.

When I want to whine about having to wear a little pack with my phone in it now,

all I have to do is think back to the beeper and bag phone days.

That shuts Mama right up.

Seizure Mama

Epilepsy Arrives

Story #3: The Big One

Seizure number thirteen was different. Rose was four years and three months old. Her first febrile seizure had occurred when she was eighteen months old. All her seizures thus far had been accompanied with illness and fever. This one was different. There was no fever. There was no illness.
Rose was eating a brownie while sitting at her place at the table. Her eight-year- old brother commented that her mouth was too full. I looked over to see Rose holding a napkin in front of her face. I pulled it down to see chocolate drool leaking from the side of her mouth. Her chin was quivering. I leaned Rose over to the side to remove the chewed up brownie from her mouth. By now her eyes were blinking. I carried her to the nearby couch and placed her on her side. She tried to sit back up and pointed to the bathroom. I carried her there thinking she might need to vomit. Her arms went out stiff with her hands bent down at the wrists. I instead of entering the bathroom, I turned and carried her to my bedroom. The room with the phone. This was not the usual seizure.
I dialed her pediatrician’s number and got his partner who was on call. I described what was happening to Rose. By this time her knees were bent up and her lips were blue. The doctor said if the seizure kept progressing, she may stop breathing. Her torso was now tense and writhing. She was in a twisting knot and turning blue.
When the doctor instructed me to call an ambulance.I remember responding, “They can’t find us.” His emphatic reply was, “Get her to a hospital.” I hung up the phone and picked up my blue, baby girl. I carried her up the steps to the carport. As I strapped her into her seat, she vomited explosively. Then she slumped over and became still. I thought she had aspirated vomit and couldn’t breathe. I unbuckled her seatbelt and dragged her limp body across my thighs and beat on her back. Nothing happened.
We had a bag phone back then. I got it out, unzipped it and instructed her brother to hold it as high as possible to get better reception. I dialed 911. What was my emergency? Where was I? How old was the patient? There were too many questions. I had to describe where our driveway was because there was no street sign. I had to tell how to open our locked gate to get into the driveway. In the country, out in the woods, no address, no neighbors. I was talking in words, but my mind was praying, “Give her back. Give her back.”
Finally, the 911 operator began telling me how to help Rose. She was still and blue. “Put her on the floor of the van,” the dispatcher said. “Lay her flat on her back,” he instructed. “Start CPR,” he ordered. As I was getting ready to follow more instructions, Rose took a deep breath. I was relieved to see the blue in her face fading. Now my prayer was, “Let her be whole.”
I finally took my eyes off her to notice it was raining. I looked at her brother standing as tall as he possibly could, holding the heavy bag phone over his head and shaking.
Then I heard a car approaching. There had been no siren. It was a friend from church who was an EMT First Responder. As I started babbling about what had happened he calmly said,”Go change your clothes. I’ll watch her.” I noticed that I was covered in vomit. I was so relieved to have some help. I rushed back into the house to change my clothes and returned just as the ambulance and Rose’s father arrived.

Seizure Mama speaks to parents:

This event was an actualization of many recurring nightmares.
1. An emergency alone. No one to help me in my isolated location.
2. One of my children dying in my arms. My not knowing how to save my own baby.
3. Calling 911 and having no one answer. Or the answerer did not understand what I needed, where I was, etc.

Yes, this event was a cluster of calamities from my darkest dreams. I will never forget that helpless and hopeless feeling.

Yet I also remember my great relief when I saw Rose’s big breath,the familiar face of a friend coming to the rescue, and my pure relief and gratitude when I was no longer alone.

This was the big-bang-beginning of our journey.

The enemy finally had a name: Epilepsy.

Ugly Doll Rescue (Re-posted for Mother’s Day)

The first time this happened was in a giant toy store.

We looked down into a tub full of stuffed animals

to spy a small doll in a red checkered dress with messy blonde hair.

Maybe it was that messy blonde mop that made Rose relate to this doll.

She picked it up and turned it over.

The mouth was twisted and the eyebrows raised.

It was an alarming face. I remember thinking that it looked like it had had a stroke.

Maybe I said this. I do not remember.

The doll never went back in the tub. She went home with us.

Her name is Crystal.

The next one was not as alarming.

She had a cute little head band and outfit.  I think the facial expression was the manufacturer’s attempt at a yawn.

Her name is Dorothy Gale.

Then came the pouty-faced brunette with tear streaks down her face.

She was unhappy in the store. We must take her home, so she will quit crying.

Chevrolet is still crying.

The fourth was the tiniest one. She is was wearing a bonnet.

Her smile is just a little crooked.

She has eyes that look as though she just finished crying, but stopped because she spotted someone she loves. It melts your heart.

I do not remember her name. I am sure Rose could tell you.

There was one last attempt at a rescue.

It was in a toy store in a mall.

Rose picked up the doll off the shelf.  It was supposed to talk, but when Rose pushed on her tummy, a horrible, board-scratching shriek came out.

Rose dropped the demonic doll and ran out of the store.

That ended the mission of rescuing ugly dolls.

This post is in honor of Rose who just spent her first night in a college dorm.

GO SAVE THE WORLD ROSE!!!!!

SEIZURE MAMA

Original post January 2018; Re-posted May 2019.