everything's going to be okay

The following is an excerpt from a work in progress, which describes an event from when Calvin was two:

Michael and I leaned over our seizing boy offering soothing words of encouragement.

“C’mon Calvin, you can do it ... everything’s going to be okay.”

But after twenty-five minutes of seizing, all I could think about was the brain damage that had begun to occur and how my only child’s vital organs—his heart, his lungs, his brain—might soon begin to fail. At that point a pediatrician entered the scene and, after I gave her a quick summary of the day’s events, she sat down to do her best to thread the butterfly needle into my son’s tiny body, which was rife with spasms. She appeared to be meeting as much trouble as the nurses had in finding a vein. In my angst, time expanded, then froze, the air in the room growing stale. Finally, her needle punctured a vessel and a bolus of fosphenytoin bled into Calvin’s vein. I wondered if it burned or, if Calvin’s seizing brain didn’t feel it, if his body might have some painful awareness of the foreign liquor commingling with his blood. I put my hand to his forehead, which felt warm and clammy, and I waited, with much fear and hope, for something to change.

Still, the seizure raged for another twenty minutes in the cool, sterile room. Everything had seemed to take on the jaundice of the beige curtains and floor, lacking all natural color, like my child’s oxygen-deprived skin. It seemed clear that the emergency medications had failed my boy. His delicate fingers, toes and lips were tinted blue-gray, his skin pallid, his body pumping in rhythmic bursts. In my research of epilepsy I had read that the longer a seizure lasts the harder it is to stop, like a runaway train speeding downhill without brakes, only to derail and smash into a billion shards. It seemed we had no choice but to see our boy crumble and fade away right before our eyes. The only solace was in hoping he was unaware of what was happening to him, though we couldn’t be sure. In my mind I thought, he’s going to die now, and I knew Michael was thinking the same. Trying to blot out the presence of strangers who made no further attempts to save our boy, we wrapped our arms around him and whispered.

“Everything’s going to be okay, Calvin, you’re doing such a good job ... Mama and Daddy love you. We love you so much.”

We stroked his arms and legs, brushed wispy blond locks back from his face. I began kissing him in the nape of his neck. You love it when I do this, don’t you, and I realized it might be the last time I’d press my lips into his warm flesh.

Photo by Michael Kolster


  1. Oh Christy, I am so sorry, this has to be beyond terrifying for all three of you. I won't ask how this ends now, I will wait until you are able to finish. My heart hurts for you all right now.

    1. no worries, leslie. this was an account of when calvin was two, thus the photo i chose. thanks for your love and concern. so sorry to worry you. xoxo

  2. I have to admit that i was afraid to ask myself ... glad to hear it was a tale from the past - as terrifying as it must have been

  3. Since finding Calvin's story while searching for ways to assist during escalating seizures my son suffers, i have learned so much. I try to remember to use your words and soft tone during terrifying seizures. this excerpt captures so vividly the experience of parents during children' seizures. Beautifully written, it perfectly illustrates the tenuous quality of life for children with refractory epilepsy. xojennifer d.