To Blame or not to Blame?
Why is it after every seizure I ask myself, ‘what did I do wrong?’ How did I cause it?’
Each time, I have one, I still assume it was something I did to bring it on, that it’s my fault.
Whether it’s epileptic or non, I believe it happened because of a conscious effort to produce it. Not the misfiring of neurons or the emotional response to an outside influence beyond my control. It was me. I’m to blame.
It takes effort to remind myself that these events occur whenever, wherever they want to, and I have no say, that it isn’t my fault. It’s nothing I’m doing. As Dr. Wiebe has told me, the brain can only handle so much before it snaps [my word]. It’s no different than stretching an elastic band beyond its endurance and it breaks.
Why then, do I still think it’s me? Is it because I have this need to personify this disease, give it substance something I can touch, hold, point a finger at? For me, the most difficult part, besides the seizures themselves, is the invisibility of my disorders, no one can see them when dormant. It’s not like I have a cast or bandage, crutches or a wheelchair, not to say the need for those is better, but their necessity is obvious in most cases, as is the healing process from broken bone to fixed.
Maybe it’s the unpredictability that’s to blame, the reason I automatically think there was something I could have done to prevent it. A perfect example was five days ago. It’d been over two months since my last seizure and life was good. I was volunteering at the hospital—started my blog—be part of a peer-to-peer group for the seizure unit—enjoying our new apartment. Even Dr. Sharma said I was doing better. So, when the seizure hit, I couldn’t pin down a reason as to why, why did it happen when life was good, things were going well? I blamed myself, the poor diet choices lately and lack of gym visits. I was to blame.
I’d ordered some items to pick up from Canadian Tire and went to get them by myself. That alone showed an improvement in my mood, going out without Dev, something I hadn’t been doing often. The thought of a seizure occurring when he wasn’t around, or someone who knew about my condition, was scary, the anxiety of such an event overwhelming. I would choose to stay home rather than go out.
So, off I went, shopping cart in tow and even took a longer route just for the exercise. ‘Covid-spread’ had developed, and my Pillsbury Dough Boy belly was now jiggling like jello. Headphones in place, Justin Timberlake, Nicki Minaj, Usher, Pitbull, and Kelly Clarkson accompanying me, I headed out. Our apartment, in the Beltline district, is centrally located. Numerous shops, pharmacies, and grocery stores within a five-block radius, the Canadian Tire being one of them. Walking to the beat of the music, I was inside the store and at the pick-up counter in no time at all. A short delay in finding my order, a thank you and smile, and out the door. The box I was given was light and, in hindsight, bringing my shopping cart wasn’t necessary. Regardless, I took my purchases outside to organize. The box wouldn’t fit inside the bag, and I struggled to secure it with the bungee cord. My hands wouldn’t co-operate, and I became frustrated, even sitting on the floor to keep the cart from rolling as I maneuvered the box.
Just then it hit. Confusion, dizziness, a surge of panic. I knew what was happening, that I was in trouble and tried to call Dev to come help me. ‘Okay, Google’ didn’t work and I couldn’t read the screen. I recall asking for help, for someone to call for me. I think my left hand started to twitch, then all went dark. A vague recollection of being turned on my side, then nothing until I awoke in emergency. The doctor ruled it as a psychogenic event, not epilepsy, and once I could walk, they sent me home. I crawled into bed, and slept, rising only to eat and use the washroom. The next day was much of the same, sleep, eat, bathroom.
Even as I write this, I’m thinking ‘what if Dev had come with me, would it have happened?’ or ‘should I have sent Dev to pick it up? Would it have made a difference?’ ‘Was it non-epileptic or actually an epileptic, or a combination?’ And on it goes. The constant merry-go-round dance of questions without answers, the what ifs, should I or shouldn’t have Is? The replay of events that won’t stop, the constant play—stop—rewind—play—repeat. It’s no wonder I suffer from anxiety and depression. My thoughts are my own worst enemy circling like a vulture above a dead carcass.
The good news is it eventually settles down, recedes into the corners of my mind awaiting the next assault. Life carries on. You pick yourself up, dust off the dirt and grime, and move because there are no other options.
Two days after I was at the hospital for my next volunteer shift. Just spending time with patients stuck in a hospital room with limited visitors, lifts me up. Simple things like taking meal trays away, getting water, spending five, ten-, or twenty-minutes chatting is such a joy. Making them laugh and smile, breaking up their monotonous day filled of poking, prodding, meals, and loneliness, is a high like no other. Spending time with those who don’t have the luxury of their own bed, food, familiar surroundings, can’t feel the breeze or warm rays of the sun, bored, frustrated, and alone, puts your own life in perspective. Yes, I have health issues, a disease with no cure, but I can walk in the sun, sleep with my cat in my own room, watch tv from my couch, be lazy and order in. I have options, choices that these patients don’t have, and I’m grateful.