During my recovery I’ve been spending a lot of time with one of my favourite books ‘The Stand’ (uncut version) by Stephen King. Something happened on Tuesday night which makes me feel particularly close to Larry Underwood (pictured above from ‘The Stand’ movie) who is one of the main characters in the story.
On Tuesday night I had the biggest fright of my life which made my bowel cancer scare, pale in comparison. We’d just had dinner and my son was anxious to get back to his computer game so he could finish it before bedtime. I scraped the plates, put them in the dishwasher and called to my son asking him if he wanted some ice-cream.
No answer, so I called again.
Still no answer. I was getting irritated by this time and went in to see what he was up to. He was just sitting there staring blankly at the screen so I turned it off asking him if he wanted some ice-cream. Still no response which was odd as he should have cracked it with me when I switched the screen off.
I was getting worried now and turned him to face me. The way he was sitting was odd, head tilted slightly, eyes deviated a little to the left, arms still held as if resting on the desk. I thought he was mucking around and shook him a little telling him to cut it out.
Still no response. I yelled for J to come and sort out our son, and walked out of the room in anger / worry / stress.
J picked him up and found that his body was rigid and told me to call an ambulance. My heart just about stopped and I shakily made the call.
We lay our son in the middle of my bed (following the operators instructions) and I sat by him waiting for the ambulance while monitoring his breathing. J was out on the road waiting for the ambulance. Eventually my son came out of the rigid pose and started getting restless, moving around on the bed, rubbing his face, kicking his legs, sucking his thumb and crying. He still wouldn’t respond to me, didn’t seem to know I was there and would not speak.
I just kept talking to him, asking him to say something, squeeze my hand – anything to let me know that he knew I was there. No response. Thoughts were running madly through my head – was it just an epileptic seizure, had he had a stroke and was now brain damaged, or was he going to die?
I felt like breaking down in despair, tears pricked at my eyes and I let out one sob before I viciously cut off that train of thought. A little voice firmly told myself to cut it out, that it wouldn’t help my son or anyone else to dissolve into a blubbering mess.
That little voice in my head doesn’t make itself known that often except in a crisis. In the past when I was a lot younger, I called it my ‘Fuck It’ attitude. It would come to the fore when I had to make a very difficult decision, do something that frightened me, or when I needed to “harden the fuck up” to get something done.
Suddenly I knew deep in my heart and soul that I would be okay. Even if the worst happened I knew I could get through it no matter what.
After half an hour the ambulance arrived and by this time my son was tired but responding normally to the paramedics much to my relief. We went to the hospital and they said that my son had had an absence-tonic seizure. It may have been caused by the blow to the head that he’d had when he fell on Monday (I’d picked him up from school early that day and had taken him to the doctor to be checked out = no concussion), or it may have been caused by the computer game or by something else. Basically they didn’t know what had caused it.
So now we have to wait 4-6 weeks to get him in for an EEG test. In the meantime we’re to carry on as normal. Easy to say, not so easy to do without stressing out. My son seems back to normal now and is back at school. I’ve got the teachers watching him like a hawk for any further symptoms but I am hoping this was just a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
What does this have to do with Larry Underwood you ask? It relates to that little voice in my head that appears in a crisis. If you have ever read the ‘The Stand’, there is a part in it which describes the inner core of Larry Underwood’s personality:
“…Because there is a hard streak in you. There’s something in you that’s like biting on tinfoil.”
I think I also have that same hard streak in me and I don’t know how I feel about that. I almost feel ashamed that I have that ability in me, to put everything (everyone) else aside in order to get the job done. I am normally an emotional, empathetic (sometimes overly so) person, so this aspect of my personality seems completely at odds with my normal ‘outward’ personality. When it happens, it doesn’t really feel like ‘me’. I feel uneasy about this - it doesn’t quite ‘sit right’ with me and I’m currently trying to accept it as part of who I am.
I guess it’s good to be reminded that I can rely on myself, that I know I can cope in a crisis and that I can make the hard decisions when or if they need to be made.
I suspect that if I didn’t have this hard streak in me, I probably wouldn’t be here today…