I don’t know that I want to write about this, but I think if I do, I’ll sleep better.  I think if I write it all and get it down on “paper” maybe it will be less in my brain and I can focus on something else.

Sunday night Wade & I had dinner at my parents’ house.  We were going to leave to get home at a reasonable hours, but between conversations, a great phone call from W’s grandfather and just general catching up, our departure was pushed back.  W’s grandfather called to accept the invitation to Thanksgiving.  When I got off my phone and reported the conversation to Wade and my mom, I decided to head up to the family room to tell my dad.

I walked into the family room and Papa was asleep in his chair.  He was slouched down, but I thought nothing of it because he had complained earlier of back pain.  Perhaps this was more comfortable.  He was snoring, so I backed out quietly, only briefly noting that the ottoman was on its side. 

I went back downstairs and asked Mum if this was normal.  He’s a rather erratic sleeper, so it may not have been odd.  He talks and flails a bit when he sleeps, so maybe this was a new thing.  She thought it odd though and decided she’d check on him.

She yelled downstairs to me, “I can’t wake him up!”

I ran upstairs and he was still snoring and she was shaking him and calling his name.  Then his eyes opened, but the snoring – or heavy breathing – continued. 

“Will?  Can you hear me?” she asked and he just stared at her.  “Something is wrong,” she said to me. Instinctively I ran to the phone and called 911.

“Police, medical or fire?”

“Medical.  I need an ambulance.  My father is conscious but not responding.”

“They’re on their way.”

(sirens in the distance…)

Back in the family room, Papa was still staring intently at my mother.  She was asking him what his name was and his silent response was deafening. 

“Do you know who I am?” she asked him.  After what seemed like forever, a slight nod was detected.  He looked at me and he responded the same when I asked if he knew who I was.  Mum turned to me and asked me if this was a stroke?  I didn’t know, but from my one first aid class (in which I almost passed out) and many years of watching ER on TV, I knew what to do.  Mum had one hand and I had the other and we asked him to squeeze our hands.  Nothing has ever been more of a relief as to feel the weak, but most definite squeeze in return. 

But was most frightening and is haunting me was the look behind his eyes.  He was terrified.  He was desperate to answer that his name is Bill (my mom calls him Will).  He wanted to say, “YES!  I know who you are!  I know where I am!” But he couldn’t speak.  So it all came from the eyes.  The answers, the fear, the confusion.  It was all in the eyes.  And the only thing we could do was comfort and let him know that help was coming.

The EMTs arrived and took him to the nearest hospital.  There was a final look as the driver of the ambulance got out of the back and moved to the driver’s seat – the doors opened and my father was facing me, upright. He made eye-contact and a slight attempt to get up.  Then the doors closed and we were all on our way to the ER in separate vehicles. 

90 minutes…what seemed like forever.  We waited to find out anything.

He had a seizure.  The doctors knew this because he bit his tongue. 

Mum saw him first and got the report.  She came back to the waiting room to find Wade & me and let us know that he was ok.  Normal, even.  One would never know anything had happened.  It was my turn to go see him.

He was completely himself.  He didn’t remember anything.  I asked what the last thing was that he did remember. 

“I looked at the clock and it was 8:20.  Then I recall seeing headlights when the ambulance doors opened.  Then I woke up and asked the man in the bed next to mine where I was.”  I found him at 8:30. He didn’t remember anything in between, so he doesn’t remember being scared.  That is the hugest relief.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It’s now 36 hours later and we have answers!  He had a temporal lobe seizure – something he’s been having for some time, but this manifested in a much more dramatic way than what we were referring to as his “episodes.”  He’d been in denial about the episodes, but now he has to come to terms.  He can’t avoid this. 

He has two options:  treat it with medication or sit on the couch for the rest of his life risking brain damage.

The answer is clear.  Stubborn or not about taking medication, the answer is clear.


~ by zuzu on November 4, 2008.

7 Responses to “8:20”

  1. scary post elizabeth! i’m really glad he is himself though. one year and one month ago a close friend of mine had a seizure. his wife saw the entire thing and it was very traumatic. he actually broke his shoulder when he fell. he had been resting, as well. and also an erratic sleeper.

    he has been on the meds for over a year, and they’re working great. he’s in great health and living a normal life.

    i’m very sorry you had to feel that fear!

  2. How frightening! Good thing you decided to check with your mum. I’m glad to hear he’s back to his old self.

  3. Oh my goodness, what a horrible experience. The one good outcome is that they know what caused the seizure and there is something they can do to help. I am so sorry you had to go through this…. big BIG hugs your way.

  4. Oh Elizabeth! How awful! I’m so glad you were able to get him help right away. I hope he becomes stubborn about making sure he DOES take his medication. Best wishes!

  5. So scary. Sounds like you are amazing under even the toughest situations. Glad you have some answers!

  6. That was the hardest thing I have ever had to read. It took me to tonight to read it. When I saw the title, I knew what it was about and was afraid to live the experience through your eyes. As much as I didn’t want to be living it via telephone, I am almost glad that is where I was placed at that time. As I said before, big thanks to you for holding it together and helping Mum….. we have strong women in this family 🙂 Love you!

  7. Although I’ve written much the very same report over and over to various people during the past few days, this wasn’t easy for me to read AT ALL! I’m glad it helped you to write it, and you already know how glad I am you and Wade were there to help both Papa and me Sunday nite!

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