end of november

When I fetched Calvin from the bus yesterday, he had a smile on his face with his tongue stuck out into the frigid wind, a cute look that has emerged in the past several months. I bent down to kiss him and I smelled what I call seizure breath, a telltale sign of a looming grand mal. I sniffed again just to be sure I wasn't imagining things; he had had a grand mal the morning before, so he wasn't really "due" for another one until sometime later in the week at least.

As the afternoon wore on, the low sun casting its long shadows, I noticed other omens: bouts of shrieking, flushed cheeks, fingers in his mouth, eye poking, irritable and whiny before bed. As a result, just before midnight I woke up to give him a dose of THCA tincture for good measure, but it wasn't enough to thwart the grand mal that came at 4:20 a.m.

My boy is still not back to baseline, so I am keeping him home from school again, at least for the morning.

November, which started out pretty badly with a rash of grand mals and partial complex seizures within the first twelve days, calmed down after we halved Calvin's CBD oil on the thirteenth; he hasn't had any partial complex seizures since then and, until last Sunday, he'd had only one additional grand mal. However, including that one plus the one this morning, he has had a total of six this month, and a count of nine in just thirty-four days—twice his monthly average of grand mals. The end of November can't come soon enough.

Nonetheless, I am trying to remain positive, though I am anxious and watchful this morning, hoping he won't have any partial seizures which have a habit of occurring in the wake of his grand mals. If we could eliminate his partial seizures he wouldn't miss so much school, a place where he learns and, on good days, seems to thrive. I'm also reminding myself that, though he had a fraction of the seizures before starting the benzodiazepine wean over three-and-a-half years ago, he was an impossible child, reducing me to tears on most days due to his disconsolate mornings, incessant shrieking, extreme hyperactivity and chronic insomnia, which lead Michael and I to agree that we'd exchange his poor behavior for a few more seizures, hoping to improve our family's quality of life. To a great extent we were right, though the hardship now is the number of days Calvin has had to stay home from school.

As with every year, the advent of winter-like weather—bone-chilling winds, shrunken shrubs, short, cold days, naked trees—causes me to pine for the spring, this time more than ever. By the first of March Calvin will have taken his last dose of clobazam, the benzodiazepine he's been on for years and one we've been painstakingly weaning from a daily high of thirty-five milligrams to just over half of one. My hope is that once the benzo clears his system, Calvin will have fewer seizures simply because he will no longer be in active withdrawal. We will see. If not, I'll be on the hunt for some other remedy, November a distant memory.

Photo by Michael Kolster


  1. Mesmerizing photo. Goes well with the excellent writing. Just Curious Q: What organ is responsible for clearing out the Benzo residue from a child? Liver? Kidney? Intestines? Does it need to be cleaned from the brain also? Any way to speed up that process? Go Calvin!

    1. not sure, tim. the liver metabolizes it, but i am unsure if it lives in other cells. the main thing is that once it is gone the body must ramp up its production of GABA, which hopefully calvin's body has been doing slowly these past three-plus years. we are eliminating the drug so slowly (only two one-hundreths of a milliliter a week!