rough patch

"I've been reading your blog," friends and acquaintances often say when they run into me in town or at the fields, "Sounds like Calvin has been going through a rough patch."

Images of a bird snared in a brier patch or stranded in some parched bit of desert come to mind. No doubt they're right, yet I hesitate to mention that this rough patch Calvin has been experiencing has lasted thirteen-and-a-half years with little relief. In fact, smooth stretches in Calvin's life have mostly been the exception rather than the rule.

To be honest, however, the past six months apart from May have been somewhat harder on Calvin, what with interrupted sleep and increased seizures, which could be due to benzodiazepine withdrawal, puberty, and/or B6 toxicity and its abrupt elimination. But he's gone through spates like these before, at times needing emergency hospitalization for prolonged seizures, the worst of which lasted the good part of an hour.

In my quest to remember what my child was like before the seizures and mind-numbing drugs, I look back at pictures of him as a baby and I see what appears to be a happy boy. Michael reminds me that photographs often tell lies. Yet, I swear Calvin wasn't always so spastic, so manic, such an hyperactive, peculiar child.

I'm reminded of the Frontline episode, The Medicated Child, and the boy in it who suffers quirks and tics from years being on powerful medications meant to focus and calm him. I wonder what so many antiepileptic medications have done to Calvin's developing brain, to his behavior, his gait, his coordination, his sleep, his ability to be calm. I really have zero doubt that Calvin is the way he is not because of the seizures, but because of the side effects of the drugs. I wonder if after his last dose of benzodiazepine—which I hope might be before his birthday next February—he'll be able to eventually revert back to the child in those lovely photographs and videos of him smiling and serene; in a few of them he looks almost normal. Something tells me he's been wrecked for good.

Alas, this rough patch doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon. And so all I can do is my best to make it smooth as possible for my kid and for my family and—in-between my own bouts of madness—do what I can to ease this bumpy ride, keeping my sights on a soft landing, like a water bird on a pond.

Photo by Michael Kolster

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