When I look back on the past year, I often think about how uncomfortable many of the experiences were. From the minute I woke up after my first seizure, I suddenly felt as if I was living a completely different life. My days were filled with challenges that I had never had to deal with before.
But out of all of those uncomfortable things, there were only a few moments that were truly terrifying. The doctor’s visits, tests, and days of being afraid to leave my room doesn’t compare to what it felt like when I woke up from my second seizure.
Because I was convulsing for a significantly longer time than during the first one, I was much more disoriented. I remember the paramedic telling me that I had had another seizure, and I thought to myself, not again. I must have opened my mouth to say something, but he told me to lay back down and relax. Whatever I was saying didn’t make any sense to the people around me. Once we were in the ambulance, I was trying to ask the paramedics questions. Most of those few hours were blurry, but there are a few things that I distinctly remember. I repeatedly told them “We’re in the elevator!” when I really meant to tell them that we were in the ambulance. They just kept telling me that they couldn’t understand what I was saying and that I should rest. I felt so helpless. Talking to people helps to calm me down. I wanted to desperately talk to the paramedics to distract myself, but I didn’t know how. My brain knew what I wanted to say, but my mouth was saying something completely different. I wasn’t able to get a single coherent thought out.
About halfway through the ride to the hospital, I heard one of the paramedics tell the other one, “She’s tachy”. Side note: literally all of my medical knowledge comes from Grey’s Anatomy. In my fuzzy brain, all I could think about was the thousand times on the show that the monitor started beeping and the doctors said those exact words. After that, the patient usually had some kind of serious medical emergency.
The paramedics could sense the distress in my face, but they mistook it as me being offended. One of them smiled at me and said, “No, we aren’t saying you’re tacky. We meant tachycardic. Your heart is just beating faster than usual. We don’t think you’re tacky.”
At that moment, I would’ve preferred for him to have called me tacky. Any insult would have been better than hearing that I was tachycardic. In that moment, my brain wasn’t about to comprehend much more than pure panic, and I wasn’t able to communicate with the paramedic and ask him if I was okay. I just had to sit quietly and panic.
I can honestly say the most terrified I have ever been was during that ambulance ride. Losing my ability to speak coherently was something completely foreign to me. Talking and communicating with others has always been something I am able to do naturally. More than naturally. I’m good at it. My strength and comfort always came from interacting with other people. Writing is my passion. If I lost my ability to communicate for the long term, what would I do?
All I could think of was that seizures can cause brain damage. I was sure that this had been the one that ruined me. In those moments of irrational thinking and sheer panic, I had lost my ability to speak, and I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to again.
All I wanted to do was feel comforted by the paramedics, but they just kept telling me to relax. They knew my disorientation was just my brain trying to put the pieces back together after what it went through, but I wasn’t thinking logically enough to realize that. I would have given anything for one of them to explain that to me.
About half an hour after we arrived at the hospital, I finally started to be able to coherently respond to the nurses and doctors who were asking me questions. They were asking me all about my medical history, and even though I had to repeat things a few times before getting them right, I was gaining more control, which was all I wanted. I wanted to feel like myself again.
Looking back on that experience now, I know that I overreacted. My brain wasn’t thinking clearly and rationally because it had just suffered something incredibly traumatic. I remember very little from that time. I don’t remember what things looked like or sounded like. I only remember a few words that were said and the terrifying feeling that I had completely lost control for the first time in my life.
I think it’s important that we take the time so realize how blessed we are. Losing my ability to communicate, even just for that short time, made me realize how blessed I am in being able to do what I love to do. Using words to connect with others, whether it be in person or in writing, has always come so naturally to me. Before then, I had never stopped to think what it would be like if I lost that ability. Often, we don’t realize what we have until we are in danger of losing it.
Be aware of your talents and the things you’re passionate about. Take a moment to think of what your life would be like if you lost them. Be thankful that they are in your life. Our joys can be stronger than the things that bring us down if we choose to be thankful that they exist. It is a blessing to have a true passion in your life, and it doesn’t come often. But when it does, it is the most amazing feeling in the world.