They come in the early morning. Just as the sky is starting to lighten but hours before any of us want to be awake, these unwelcome visitors start as a misfiring in my son’s brain before traveling through his body and entering our world.
His seizures come like rolling waves. The first wave is long and drawn-out. It serves as the siren, alerting us . His body stiffens, his lungs slowly expel their content in a low, distinct moan. I wake up, roll over, put my hand on his chest, and tell him that it’s going to be okay.
A series of shorter waves come next. His body loosens slightly, then tenses again with a grunt. The cadence of the waves becomes steady beneath my hand.
I sit up, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. They adjust to the dark and I can see my son’s body convulse. His eyes flutter, matching the timing of the repeating pattern of his body.
My perception of time goes awry. A few seconds have passed, but the agony that I feel acts as a multiplier and those seconds feel like forever. I have time to wonder whether these seizures will end soon or whether they will keep their tormenting hold on my little boy. There are no signs, no clues to help me predict the size of the storm. The only thing to do is to wait and to keep counting.
The waves elongate slightly and are less intense, which gratefully means the end is near. I start to rub my son’s chest again and reassure him. I want my voice to be the first thing he hears. I want to give him a safe place to return.
The seizures release their grasp on my son and his lungs fill violently with air as he desperately inhales. He sits up in bed, trying to get his bearings. He’s teetering between sleep and the unwanted awakening that his firing neurons have forced upon him.
I continue to watch him as the waves dissipate. Sometimes he simply turns over and falls back asleep. I like those times the best because its like he rides the waves of seizures safely back to shore. Other times, the waves crash his tiny frame in to the rocks. He cries and it breaks my heart even more.
Also published on Medium.