We interrupt this chronological story for something far more important at the moment ---
It was two years ago today, on Hollywood Boulevard at noon, across the street from the famous Chinese Theater, that I experienced a full-blown seizure, just two weeks shy of my 64th birthday. It was my first, and so far only, seizure, and no cause has yet been found. Most of the memories are still quite intense, although faded just a little.
We were on the first day of a family vacation, visiting our son who lived in Los Angeles, and traveling with one of our daughters and three grandkids. We checked out the handprints of the rich and famous and then went across the street to a crowded gift shop to pick up some camera supplies. I was immediately bothered by the flashing lights (strobe maybe??) and within seconds felt the need to get outside. On my way, I found that any object I looked at would break apart and/or jump to some other place in my field of vision. Nothing stayed where it should. It was creepy, but not nearly as creepy as when I started to feel both eyes roll back in my head. Somehow I made it outside and leaned against the building. That's all I remember until the EMT was gently questioning me before moving me into the ambulance. Some kind stranger must have helped me because I had fallen to the sidewalk and ended up with no bruises at all - just a very sore, bloody tongue.
I received excellent care at the nearest hospital and almost immediately found myself thinking about all the kids and adults I have known over the years who struggle with neurological issues. As soon as things started going whacky for me, I remember thinking, "This must be what the kids feel - how scary!" And then when I was released from the ER and told to avoid 'over-stimulation'---- I found myself closing my eyes as tightly as possible and covering my ears when we were in noisy places or there were bright lights or lots of color, etc. and then feeling very frustrated that it's really impossible to shut the world out, even though you feel a very strong need to do so. Also there is the feeling that your brain can play nasty tricks on you at any time, and you really have no control over any of it. Naturally, my thoughts then went to how I might feel if someone decided to put in place some sort of behavior mod program to deal with my anti-social behaviors - Now, that would really tick me off! As for the 'fun' things removed from my life - I recognized right away that going to crowded fun places had to be looked at completely differently. For a very long time afterward I immediately looked for a quiet area where I could feel 'safe' everywhere I went. This of course made me think of the kids we call 'runners' - they too are probably just trying to escape situations their nervous systems can't handle.
I have continued to receive excellent care back at home, and feel very fortunate that so far it seems to be an isolated event in my life. I do believe things happen for a reason. Maybe I needed to take better physical care of myself, and maybe I had a few more lessons to learn about the many kids who have been a part of my life. I certainly have a new appreciation for what they are dealing with - ALL THE TIME! How frustrating it must be to never know what your body is going to do, or what is going to set it off. How frustrating to be unable to enjoy the many activities that others do. And how frustrating it must be when others don't understand. They truly deserve not just our understanding, but our respect and admiration.