Tropical depression Henri didn't make landfall in Maine, but we had low barometric pressure and insane humidity anyway. It seems the full moon also helped tug Calvin's seizures into existence—he had one grand mal at nine p.m. on Sunday, and another at three the next morning.
Last night, after putting Calvin to bed, Michael and I ate barbecued salmon and sushi rice with spicy fish sauce while watching the last half of the film, Aliens. During one of many grisly scenes—at the very moment when an alien burst through the chest of its wide-eyed, terrified human host causing her to convulse—we heard our son shriek. It was his third grand mal in less than a day. We sprinted to his room where we found him tangled in his blanket, convulsing, his lips a dusky blue.
"I'm going to give him the Diastat," I told Michael, who expressed unease with my decision to employ the benzodiazepine because they can be so problematic.
But my brain and my gut said, do it!, so I grabbed the vial from the changing-table drawer, cracked off its plastic cap and squirted lube onto its tip. While Michael kept our boy safely on his side, I unsnapped the crotch of Calvin's onesie, ripped open and pulled aside his diaper, then carefully inserted the tip of the vial into his rectum, depressing its plunger slowly. My intent was not to stop the seizure which had already begun to subside, but to thwart a probable fourth, perhaps more devastating one, from occurring in the night.
The Diastat knocked Calvin out. Benzodiazepines like Diastat, aka rectal Valium, can cause respiratory suppression, and since SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) is thought to occur within twenty minutes after a grand mal, I wanted to monitor him for awhile. So I brought our unfinished meals and glasses of wine into Calvin's room, plus a chair for Michael. With my plate in my lap, I sat on top of the changing table where I could easily see Calvin's chest rise and fall. Holding vigil, we ate the rest of our dinner in the dim light of the small room grieving the impossibility of our child and his sorry lot in life.
As we munched our salads, Michael expressed regret about Calvin's unthinkable limbo: he can walk, but can't—or won't—walk well enough to stroll any distance down the street, in the woods, or at the beach, and yet he cannot sit still; he can see, but we can't know what or how well; he can manage finger foods, but cannot use a spoon; he can swallow, but sometimes chokes on food and drink; he is having some success sitting on the toilet, but he still has to wear diapers and can't poop without the use of suppositories; he cannot speak, so sometimes it's near impossible knowing what he might need, understand, feel, suffer or think; he's right there, but so often he's out of reach. In short, he's an unthinkable enigma.
Finishing our dinner, we discussed the paperwork we have to complete and submit to probate court in order to be granted guardianship of Calvin when he turns eighteen in February. Yes, even though we are his parents, we must apply to become his legal stewards since he can't make decisions for himself. One assurance we've been asked to give is that we will continue to provide Calvin with activities he enjoys. As if his suffering from seizures and/or drug side effects isn't regrettable enough, the list of things that give Calvin joy is extremely limited; he likes hugging, baths, music, car rides, swings, sweets, and a few baby toys. He doesn't have friends. He can't do sports. He doesn't know how to play with trucks or dolls or games or Legos. He can't run or ride a bike or play catch or swim in pools, lakes, rivers or seas. He doesn't watch movies or cartoons. He can't walk the dog. He can't write or read or camp or bake or fish or hike. He is capable of doing just enough to avoid being confined to a wheelchair or to a bed in a room, but he can't do most of the things that make most kids feel happy or truly free.
This enigmatic and beloved child of ours lives in a limbo alien to most, one he'll likely endure his entire life. Oh, how I wish him to be free of his unknowable, unthinkable miseries.