running home

Within the first year or so that Calvin was diagnosed with epilepsy we made scores of calls to 911. Of those, he was taken to the emergency room of our local hospital about a dozen. At least half of those times he was transferred, via ambulance, to the Maine Medical Center which has a pediatric intensive care unit.

Those calls and visits were made because Calvin suffered large clusters of five or more seizures that recurred every 45 minutes to an hour and which often culminated into a prolonged seizure, once as long as 45 minutes. This condition is called status epilepticus and with it comes terrible risks. The longer a seizure goes the harder it is to stop. Status epilepticus can cause brain damage and can ultimately result in the failure of vital organs which in turn can cause death.

Because of the frequency of those episodes I found it difficult to leave the house. Although I had the help of a nurse taking care of Calvin a few days a week I was petrified that the one time I'd leave the house might be the time that Calvin would expire. However, I also knew that I had to live my life, take care of errands, walk Rudy the dog or simply catch a breather.

We live just a few blocks from the college where my husband teaches photography. It is a nice campus with large white pine and maple trees, beautiful brick buildings, a stone chapel and wide open grassy spaces for me to stroll while Rudy chases squirrels.

I can remember, on several of these strolls, hearing the blaring siren of an ambulance careening down the main street flanking the campus and headed in the direction of our home. Instantly my heart began to race. Panic-stricken, I broke into a full sprint and did not stop until I had run several blocks and could see that the ambulance had bi-passed our home. Only then was I assured that Calvin was safe.

And although it has been three years since Calvin's last transport to the emergency room my heart still sinks whenever I hear the sound of an ambulance.

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