breathless again

As my mother once told me she used to do, this morning I tried to drown my sorrows in the shower. Though my eyes stung and my throat began to feel swollen, only a few tears fell. I so wanted and needed to do some serious weeping—about my son’s afflictions, the suffering of Ukrainian civilians being bombed by Russian troops, the miseries of this damn pandemic—but instead, all my body had to offer was a halting breathlessness under the stream of hot water.

A couple of hours earlier, not long after waking for the day, Calvin had a rare, conscious-onset grand mal seizure in his jonnny-jump-up. Michael had just stepped out for his early-morning run, so when Calvin began to seize, I ran to the door and yelled Michael’s name into the sleepy street, hoping he was still within earshot. Moments later—knowing well what my calling-out meant—he rushed back in through the door.

Unable to pry Calvin’s convulsing, vice-like body from the jumper, we managed to get him onto his side—which limits the risk of aspiration—by supporting Calvin’s upper body on Michael’s chest and his hips and legs on my lap as I sat in a chair pulled under his jumper. Once the seizure was over, we were able to slip Calvin out of the jumper and onto the floor where I placed a folded blanket underneath his head. After a few minutes of our son’s own halting breathlessness, together Michael and I hoisted Calvin onto the green couch where he laid in a daze.

Regrettably, it has been only two days since our son’s last grand mal. I had just been thinking about how extra homemade THCA cannabis oil often seems to prevent Calvin’s seizures from clustering if given in the hours and days after each initial seizure. I wish I had given him extra cannabis oil yesterday afternoon and last night with the hope of preventing this morning’s fit, especially considering the advancing full moon which also seems to tug his seizures into existence.

Thankfully, Calvin’s conscious-onset grand mals have become a rare occurrence since I began giving him my homemade cannabis oil eight years ago. He used to have them regularly, and frequently in the bathtub. They virtually disappeared with the advent of the cannabis oil, which relegated his grand mals to the middle of the night when he’s asleep and secure in his safety bed. Unfortunately, his daytime grand mals began to reappear in the last several years, albeit with little frequency; they still account for just a small handful of the sixty to seventy grand mals Calvin suffers in any given year.

So today, once again, I’m stuck indoors with an unwell kid who is going between resting on the green couch to fidgeting and walking in aimless circles; I doubt he’s out of the woods yet. Thankfully, I was able to get outside for a short stroll with Smellie as the sun was rising over the pines that skirt the fields. Thankfully, I got to take a shower before Michael left. Thankfully, I was able to breathe peacefully as the morning sunshine lightly gilt the room (instead of hiding in a bunker without food or water, breathless, while being shelled by the enemy.)

And, like a gift, just as I was wrapping this up while Calvin rested next to me, I got an email from a friend and former Bowdoin College student, Marina Henke, who did graduate work in radio and podcast documentary studies at the Salt Institute last fall. She attached a link to the profile piece she did on me, which I’m now able to share widely. I invite you to have a listen; it’s beautiful and telling, and only seven minutes. Hearing it again unleashed all sorts of feelings in me, as well as some much-needed, hard and cathartic weeping.

Calvin recovering on the couch after this morning’s grand mal.

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