Like A Movie

A few weeks ago we went to dinner with another couple. This couple doesn’t know me very well yet, and because they know so little about me, they aren’t familiar with my epilepsy. And because I seem so “normal,” they wouldn’t believe what a part it plays in my day-to-day life. You don’t have to be dropping down and having a seizure every five minutes to be affected by epilepsy. And people who aren’t directly affected by epilepsy don’t consider it to be severe enough or that “important” (for lack of a better word) unless it’s like the movies – someone falls down, wigs out, hurts him/her self and foams at the mouth. Something overly dramatic catches everyone’s attention. But in my mind, it’s those day-to-day events that create the “dramatic.” “Traumatic,” actually. It’s the quick twitch at the table that lasts just seconds too long to be comfortable. The couple stares, I try to blink it away but I can’t focus. My husband grabs my hand, pulls me closer and I bury my face in his shoulder to hide, to ride out what looks so freakish. That dramatic blinking I can’t control where my brain goes just a little haywire for a moment doing whatever it wants at lightning speed. The consciousness of somebody staring at me wondering what the hell is going on makes it even worse. That’s where the traumatic comes in. Feeling like an idiot, unable to explain what’s going on in a way that is short and comfortable, I (the hubby knows how I “handle” it) laugh it off with a little humor – everyone loves a joke and it always eases the awkward silence/tension. I’m sure they’ll discuss my spaz in the car on the way home, perplexed… just as we will.

I never know why it happens at that moment. Maybe it’s because my brain is finally trying to slow down from a crazy day with the baby, or the stress of daily life – commitments, demands, responsibilities- that for me always weigh on my mind. And the last time I was at UCI for an EEG- while I was pregnant- the doctor told me; those aren’t just auras, those are mini seizures… So later when we get in the car, my husband reminds me it’s not a joke – they are serious. He makes me promise, for the millionth time, that when those happen during the day and he’s at work, I have to put the baby in the crib, sit down, and ride it out. Call him. Don’t try to ignore it, be stubborn, or be stronger. Inside, I know I’m not. The traumatic… it’s crushing.

It’s been a little over a year since my last grand mal. But I have those “mini seizures” at least every other day. Those lapses. And I tell myself they don’t count. Those aren’t as dramatic as the ones I had last year, the ones that are played out in the movies. I can brush these spasms off with a smile and a joke. That’s what Megan’s good at. 😊 Yet as I try to ignore them, I know they ARE just as traumatic because that means it’s always right there. The idea of a grand mal, the possibility of a big one. The making of the movie; what everybody expects from an epileptic…

The reason epilepsy awareness is so important is that many epileptics deal with the trauma everyday, yet the lack of a dramatic public episode isn’t always there to garner that attention…

Sometimes, that’s the most traumatic part.

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