September 30 will mark six months since my last seizure. Six months since I woke up in a park I’d never even heard of just off I-59, surrounded by medics and a police officer, who were all asking a million questions I could barely find the words to answer. Six months since I walked up the stairs of the house my husband (only my boyfriend then) and I rented in Southside and calmly told him I’d had a seizure while driving – all not even an hour after it happened. I’d been driving back from that house, back to work in Woodlawn – not even 15 minutes away by interstate – from my lunch hour.
One of the medics was exceedingly kind, offering to talk to my mother when I called her to get her to pick me up, as I didn’t know how to describe where the park was. He told us his son has epilepsy and that he can relate, and was nothing but nice as my mom’s panic set in while I dealt with the postictal brain fog I’ve grown so accustomed to. Another medic, however, was exceedingly condescending, asking me why I had gone home to Southside for lunch – as if that was any of his business or had anything to do with the seizure.
Had a tree or picnic bench not been in the path my car took as it careened down the hill between two guardrails that I miraculously missed while seizing, I would have ended up in Patton Park’s lake – windows down, buckled in, deeply unconscious. The last thing I remember is quite a few miles back from where I lost consciousness, on an interstate interchange just moments after leaving Southside.
I didn’t go to the hospital. Medics offered and my mom insisted that I should, but I had no head injury. In fact, I had no injuries of any kind – aside from a single small scratch on my nose from the bridge of my glasses. No reason to have to pay for an ER copay.
I don’t know who was driving my car that day, because it definitely wasn’t me. Whether luck or something higher up looking after me, I narrowly avoided those guardrails, was travelling beside a woman who noticed something was wrong and called 911, and didn’t hit anybody enjoying their day in the park. As people walked around the track and in the grass while I sat in my car coming out of unconsciousness, surrounded by medics and a police officer, all I could think was, “I can’t believe I didn’t hit anybody.”
I’ve been fortunate with my epilepsy. It’s controlled by medications now. My doctor put me on an extended release oxcarbazepine medication in addition to the lamotrigine I’ve been taking for close to ten years now. I haven’t had a single side effect from it that I can tell, but my memory is still gone in big chunks from the last nine months or so of my life, when my seizures started up again with frequency. When people mention events or parties or conversations I’d had since last October, there is a 70% chance I don’t remember it.
But when that’s the only side effect I’ve experienced from my many seizures over those months, I think I can deal with that. Sorry to my coworkers who got really acquainted with epileptic me.
I still have repairs to make to my car. Insurance didn’t cover it because it was a seizure. Most of the damage is cosmetic as far as we know. If it isn’t, I’ll just search for a new-used one. And that is going to be amazing. Getting around for six months when you can’t drive yourself is a challenge, especially in a transit-poor area like Birmingham. I have relied on my husband, my mom, and my husband’s parents and am so very grateful for all the help they have given me.
I’ll be glad to have my independence back, but most of all I’ll be glad to celebrate this milestone. Half a year of having some semblance of a normal life.