cannabis, give us calm

I sensed it coming but I didn’t want to believe it. Yesterday, Calvin showed some of his telltale signs of an impeding seizure: warm hands and skin, prickly, raised rash on his chin, few smiles, foamy drool, lots of finger-snapping, head rubbing and a slightly whiny disposition. He even had a bloody nose. All of these expressions gathered into a perfect storm on day eight, leading me to dread the tempest that I felt advancing, and I worried about him as I sat at the sushi bar on an uneven stool visiting with my friend.

At 4:00 a.m. it arrived in all its fury. Its impact thrust my kid into a shriek, like a punch to the solar plexus, followed by quick, sharp waves of spasms. I quickly crawled into Calvin’s bed, rubbed his back, kissed his neck and uncovered his limbs so he could convulse freely without risk of pulling a muscle. His head was banging against the pillow so hard I was consciously grateful that he usually seizes while in bed. Michael brought me one of the prepared syringes of CBD cannabis oil that I keep in the refrigerator for these moments. The seizure, which showed some signs of stopping at three minutes, lingered for several more until finally it quelled enough so that I could squeeze several drops of cannabis oil inside of his cheek with the hope of preventing a second assault.

Assured it was over, Michael and I lifted our boy to the changing table to swap out his swollen diaper, soaked pants and shirt, then spooned him back into bed with me at his side. As Calvin slept I felt the twitch and stretch of his aftershocks, though not nearly as much as in the days before the cannabis. In the dim sepia of the night-lit room my mind reeled:

maybe this is a benzodiazepine withdrawal seizure. is he getting sick again? i knew it was coming. i should have increased his cannabis. it lasted so long. poor little bugger. will this ever end? i wish i could go back to sleep. relax. i hope he doesn’t get a headache. i should have stayed home with him. i wonder what time it is. i hope he grows out of this nightmare. what's with the bloody nose?

Calvin slept until a sliver of dawn began peeking through behind the window shade. He grasped my neck and pulled me close.

"Uh-uh," he peeped—Mama.
"Mama's right here," I replied, "I love you so much, Calvin. You're my sweet boy."

While Michael went down to make coffee I got Calvin up. I could tell he didn't feel good so I gave him two acetaminophen suppositories. We can never really sleep in—any of us. Calvin has to get his seizure medicines every morning around 6:30, perhaps for the rest of his life. That's the way epilepsy rolls: a lifetime of seizures, drugs and their side effects. I am hoping, with luck, a little herb—cannabis—will continue to calm the seas that all too often rage inside Calvin's head. And in my son's embrace, I turn my head to see the empty cannabis syringe with a bit of golden residue. I realize that Calvin only had one seizure and I think: Give us calm. Give us peace. Give us rest. Give us happiness.

photo by Michael Kolster

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