At two-thirty this morning I awoke to the familiar sound of Calvin rocking and rubbing his head in his hands. When I got to his crib he sat bolt upright, as if possessed, then flattened himself into the pillow again. I turned him onto his back, cupped his head in my hand and gave him some water from the bottle kept at his bedside. He drank it with an unusual and worrisome fervor then threw his head back in a whiplash. With a cool hand I caressed his forehead, then flipped him to his side and covered him up. Twice more this happened. As I crawled back into bed for the third time I told Michael that Calvin was acting strangely. Just then, already kneeling, Calvin started banging on the side of his padded crib—protective wool blankets, fleece throws and quilts lining its walls. This time Michael got up and laid him back down.
An hour later I awoke. Outside, the dissonant groan of metal plows against snow-covered asphalt fractured the frosty silence. I heard what I thought was the tick-tick-tick of Calvin’s thumb against his teeth, one of his self-stimming behaviors. At that point Rudy came upstairs, his black claws tapping and scratching the wood. I wondered if he knew what was going to occur.
Just as I was about to look in on Calvin again, he let out the squeal that begins his seizures. We rushed to his crib and I checked the clock. More convulsive than usual, Calvin's eyes fluttered and darted while the rest of his body pulsed wildly with electric shocks. A minute and a half passed and his convulsions began to dampen. Two minutes passed and the regular spasms became errant, jerky tremors. Approaching three minutes, his eyes still large and vacant, I waved a hand in front of them and he flinched, but my Calvin was still in another world, chewing and swallowing in the odd manner of some seizures. I couldn’t tell when the seizure was over, his body still strangely writhing and rippling with quivers, but we lifted him out and brought him into our bed.
For almost an hour a constant current of shudders and shivers flowed through his body as if he were frightfully chilled. We hadn’t seen these vigorous aftershocks in years. I feared Calvin would roll right into another seizure, the kind that is big, fat and mean, with tsunami force that nothing can stop, laying waste in its savage path. But Calvin’s nemesis yielded to sleep as delicate white flakes of snow passed by our windows and blanketed the frozen ground.