A week ago I had a seizure. It was my first in six years, which is just long enough to forget what it's like. I was in the back seat of a car, which is an unusually safe situation in which to have a seizure. When I rode the same route today, I realized that I don't remember seeing anything for about fifteen miles before the site where the driver pulled over. When I was more accustomed to seizing, I would have had about fifteen minutes to warn them about what was going to happen, but I didn't see it coming this time. So, I lost a big block of time, between when I started the whole pre-seizure process, and when I mentally "came to," which was when I was talking to the paramedics. It's kind of disorienting to regain consciousness while you're standing up, talking to people, trying to remember your address. My overriding mechanism is competence, so of course I was trying to convince them that I didn't need to get into the ambulance. It's funny what core part of your being comes out when you are operating subconsciously. "I'm fine" is clearly situated pretty centrally in my being.
Unfortunately, there are few things quite like a seizure to remind you that you're not really fine.
I scared the crap out of the people who were with me, which is not really in keeping with my general mode of never having people worry about me.
I had no control whatsoever of my body or brain for a while, which doesn't really lend itself to independence. Even afterward, I had a full day of near immobility, and a week of feeling like I was recovering from electrocution.
I can't drive for a while, and frankly I'm nervous about even being alone until we're sure that the meds are stabilized. Now this is the kicker: not being able to go or be anywhere on my own. I am always everywhere on my own. This seriously sucks. But I am way too anxious to even try to get behind the wheel of a car right now. My anxiety about getting into the pulpit this week was very nearly crippling, and the likelihood that I'll kill anyone if I have a seizure there is pretty slim.
I have lost, for now anyway, the ability to trust my own body, my own brain. I am constantly aware of whether there are any signs that I might seize again, whether my focus is flagging or my vision warped.
Incidentally, I am still getting on a plane in five days and going to Northern Ireland and Scotland, by myself, because I am not missing this trip, and because I believe in doing things that are scary. And this time, this is scary, even for me, who has traveled alone many times to many places.
But here's the thing about having a seizure, about suddenly not being able to trust your body, about not being able to get yourself anywhere on your own: it's reality. I don't want this reminder, but I acknowledge that it is a reminder, that I am never really in control of everything my body does, that I am never really independent, that I am never really on my own, and can't be any of those things. Independence, that thing that is so much at the core of my being that I cling to it even when I'm not fully conscious, is an illusion. The reality is weakness, uncertainty, and need. This is onerous, and annoying, and inconvenient, but it is also true.
As much as I hate it, and feel confined by it, the loss of my independence is an interesting lesson. And so I walk away and leave my car to sit in the church parking lot indefinitely, and call one more person to get a ride to tomorrow's meetings, and I think, none of us can do this alone. None of us can do this alone.