Lessons From Plants, Redux
My foster son became rather depressed when his plant—a gift from his mother—began shedding a lot of its leaves. The plant wasn’t dying, and it didn’t appear to be under any more stress than usual. But still, it lost leaves.
Several of them.
“Are you watering it enough?” he asked me, fingering the remaining leaves with tender care. I assured him that I was, that this loss was part of the growth process.
But he was not convinced. Instead, he seemed rather distressed by the losses that it suffered. He almost seemed to grieve those fallen leaves. He stood next to that pot, a vigilant sentinel, as though his presence might soothe away its stress. But still, the leaves died and fell.
Loss is, after all, part of the growth process.
I saw my doctor earlier this week and he told me that because of the type of epilepsy I have (partial, with a right temporal lobe onset) and four drug failures, the odds of controlling my seizures with medication alone are now a mere 15-25%. That percentage jumps to 60-75% with brain surgery, which still terrifies me. And I’m not sure those odds are high enough for me to sign myself up for a lobotomy.
I applied for Social Security disability earlier this month. I hated doing it. It felt like admitting defeat. But I am in no state to hold a job right now—my hold on consciousness is so feeble at times. The government requested more information from me this week—my husband had to fill out a seizure witness form, and I had to explain the types of seizures I have (their duration, their frequency, their severity). Filling out those forms, admitting that I had become incapacitated to this degree, felt like a loss, much like those leaves, dreams once so bright and vibrant and new themselves, that had shriveled on the vine and fallen to the ground.
But my foster son, ever mindful of his plant, pointed out the tiny explosions of new growth on those same vines that had just shed those dead leaves, a thousand green fireworks spiraling into the air, more leaves than it had lost, full of promise and life. He has suffered his own losses—more than I can comprehend—and those losses have allowed him room to expand and grow in ways and places he never dreamed. He has grown so much—more than any of us ever thought possible. He understands this natural cycle better than I ever could. He has lost so much, but each loss has been a pruning. It is good to see. It brings me hope.
Loss is part of the growth process. It prepares the way for new growth, and I can feel the buds within me, daring to nudge through the loss and unfurl their blooms.
What It’s Like to Have a Seizure (Or, Why I Hate Socks, Balloons, and Meat That's Been Stuffed into a Tube)
I hate socks.
I have always hated socks. Always. As a child, I peeled them off the second I took off my shoes. And I still do, on the rare occasion that I even bother to wear socks. I hate how confining they are, how restricting. They just make my wide-width shoes even tighter (my feet are about as wide as they are long—pretty much square blocks), and I feel like my toes are gonna bust out the sides.
I hate balloons for the same reason. They’re squeaky and loud, they contain and confine, and they have the potential to burst. I hate that they might pop at any moment—you never know when they might blow. They always sneak up and surprise you. I remember the ushers at our wedding thought they were being kind by filling our getaway vehicle (hubby’s grandma’s sweet Jaguar) with balloons. Two popped on the ride to the reception hall. I nearly hyperventilated.
And meat that’s been stuffed into a tube is revolting to me. I think hot dogs and bratwursts and sausages are vile. I hate casings. Again, with the confining—I hate that restriction. (And I hate meat that has been so altered that it no longer looks like meat, but that’s another story for another time.)
I hate things that feel so overstuffed that they might pop.
And these strange pet peeves/phobias/what-have-you’s never made sense to me until recently: I’m pretty sure that they freak me out because it’s exactly what my brain feels like right before it fails me: so full it’s got to burst.
In spite of this brand-new, fancy, super-expensive drug I’m on ($7.00 a day!), I’m still having seizures. I had one on Tuesday, and it was a nasty one. And I had a migraine before and after it. It hasn’t been a good week for my brain.
But I feel like there is this pressure that just buildsandbuildsandBUILDSANDBUILDS inside of my head, and it comes out as a seizure.
The previous drug released this pressure in small leaks—I had frequent, minor seizures, like when you let air leak slowly from an untied balloon. (Ugh, that awful squelching noise.) The act never empties the balloon—it just takes some of the pressure off.
This new drug (and the one prior to it) keeps the lid on for awhile longer—I went nearly two whole weeks without one. But when I blow, the pressure that has built up is substantially greater, so the seizure that follows is, too. This kind is pretty much the equivalent of a popped balloon. Or a holey sock. Or a hot dog that busted out of its casing. (Shudder. I can think of few things more disgusting.)
So, seizures feel like socks and balloons and hot dogs.
All things that I hate.