invisible giant

Walking Calvin around the block yesterday felt like dragging a stubborn dog. He'd start and stop, swerve and hitch, sometimes weaving behind me even as I held onto his wrist. At one point he pivoted and fell onto his back at the edge of the sidewalk. Since my right hand had Smellie by the collar, I wasn't able to prevent his fall. Still, I was able to let him down slowly so he didn't hurt himself. Then, he wouldn't budge, so I had to lift him back up. I became frustrated, let Smellie go (she's such a good dog) and yanked my careening kid the rest of the way home.

Thankfully, the remainder of the day was mellow, consisting of a nice car ride and lots of cuddling. While putting on Calvin's nighttime diaper I asked him if he was tired, and he made a little hum. He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

After sleeping soundly, Calvin aroused at eleven p.m. in the thralls of a focal seizure, wide-eyed, restless and trembling terribly. I dripped some THCA cannabis oil into his mouth and held his head so the oil had time to absorb and so he wouldn't drool it out. I took his temperature, changed a soaking diaper, then crawled into bed with him. Three hours later this repeated, and a third time an hour after that. At four-thirty I gave him his morning Keppra hoping to avoid more fits, but the strategy didn't work and at five o'clock he had the worst focal seizure yet. As I was reaching to turn on the light, Calvin, in the middle of the seizure, began to sit up, put his hand on the side of the bed, slipped and fell out. I halfway caught him, softening his fall but not before his lip caught the sharp corner of the wooden step stool. Michael helped me pick him up and put him onto the changing table where I syringed in his morning cannabis oil, noting a lip that was bleeding and beginning to swell. The seizure began to worsen. His tremors became so violent he looked as if he were a rag doll being shaken by an invisible giant. Something akin to fear filled his eyes as he kicked the arm of the lamp clamped to the end of his changing table. I put my arms around his neck and held him closely until his trembling ebbed then quit.

When it was over, I crawled back into bed with him, lamenting so many seizures amid what had been shaping up to be another good month. Stroking Calvin's face in search of possible fever, my thoughts drifted to the little girl so much like Calvin who died last week from likely complications of the coronavirus. Her name was Charlotte Figi. She was thirteen years old and, without knowing it, had become the face of CBD oil as therapy for epilepsy. Her mother, Paige, had been my mentor of sorts—one of only two parents I knew of who were treating their children's seizures with cannabis. She had suggested different strains of the herb with which I could make my own oil (this was years before it could be ordered online and shipped) and she walked me through how to safely wean Calvin's benzodiazepine. As I embraced my son, I wondered what this dutiful and loving mother, this pioneer and champion for so many, was feeling. I wondered when she might begin to feel relief from the loss of such an extraordinary child who filled so much space with her brightness. I wondered if she felt any modicum of solace in knowing that the invisible giant which is epilepsy no longer haunts and harms her daughter. I wondered if, one way or another, Calvin and I will ever feel that same peace.

Photo by Michael Kolster


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  2. Oh, Christy! My heart aches for you all. What I would give to be able to provide relief. Hugs to you and to that sweet Calvin.

  3. so much virtual xoxo from me to you.

  4. sending you and calvin a long distance hug, how I wish I could ease the pain for you both. love you.

  5. Christy this is beautiful. The pain, the repetition, the rout routine... the damn seizures. The relief, if one comes will to be filled with pain...at least in my head there is no way out. Either she or I will be left without the partner in this daily stubborn dog walk...