rabid child

The boy in bed next to me is a rabid animal, teeth bared, eyes wide, and shrieking. He lunges at me, grabbing fists full of my hair in his clammy hands. Like a battering ram, he butts his head into my chest. He pushes off of my throat to sit up, then slams into me again. He writhes, thrashes and kicks. Though he is only half my weight, I feel as though I am wrestling with a crocodile or giant fish, sheer muscle pounding me and evading my grip.

My boy screams and rants like this for hours on end, flailing and flopping in his bed while I do damage control for us both. At times he launches himself over the edge and I must catch him from falling out or from hitting his head. In his eyes I see terror or some kind of pain. I wonder if he is suffering a migraine, stabbing cramps or perhaps is passing a kidney stone. He acts and sounds as if someone is pulling his fingernails out or breaking his bones. The source of his agony can never be known. No remedy worked to end his torment.

I ask myself if this is a hallmark of benzodiazepine withdrawal, these nighttime episodes that have occurred a handful of times these past few years. I wonder if they are night terrors or seizures themselves. I wonder if, when I see them beginning, I should give him the rectal Valium, which presents problems of its own. 

I read about night terrors and look for possible links to benzodiazepine withdrawal. I see their relationship to frontal lobe epilepsy and read about the kind of seizures it spawns. They sound familiar to the psychotic episodes Calvin endures, but how can I really know? We can do another EEG. We can do another MRI. We can look for evidence of brain lesions or tumors. We could find ourselves in a position to consider brain surgery, though the knife is something I never wanted near my son whose flawless body adorns a fucked-up brain. Don't ever cut him, I've thought over and over again.

flawless body, Photo by Michael Kolster

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