I never want to romanticize having epilepsy in any way, as there is nothing desirable about it, but there are three seizures that I really remember in my life. My first seizure is one of them.
Saying I remember seizures is a bit misleading. What I remember is the circumstances surrounding them, because either what lead to the seizure or the consequences of the seizure were unique. In the case of my first seizure, both of those things are true.
I was at summer camp at the time, and it was the last year I was young enough to go. After a horrible year at school, I was enjoying it more than ever. I spent most of my days there horseback riding with my cabin mates, girls I had grown very close to through the years. The camp itself was close to Lake Travis in Austin, so I got to go swimming as well as go on my first and only zip line across it. We had dances every weekend. I learned how to fish, shoot a bow and arrow, and go rock climbing.
That day, during rest time, I was tired. This was the first thing that was unusual about that day. I had never slept during rest time. Normally I spent that hour goofing off and writing letters home about how much fun I was having at camp. But this day, I fell asleep on my friend’s bunk bed. Luckily, it was the bottom bunk.
The Story and Aftermath
I remember nothing about the seizure itself. My friend told me that I started shaking. The girls in my cabin thought I was joking until I fell off the bed, at which point one of them ran to the nurse’s office. I remember to this day that was not a short run up a hill, and am still impressed by it.
When I woke up, I was in a truck. I remember being very tired and very disoriented. I was not aware of where I was going, but I was on my way to the hospital. I do not remember the visit.
I do remember staying in the nurse’s office at camp that night. I sat in a bed, not quite sure what to do with myself. The nurse came in at one point and told me that my cabin mates had come to see me. I told her I did not feel like seeing anyone. While I don’t believe in having regrets, this decision comes close because I did not see most of those girls again.
My parents arrived within a couple of hours. I know I was relieved to see them.
I was not diagnosed that day, or when I got home. I was told that some people may have only one seizure their entire lives. As I discussed, this was a bit of a sucker-punch to someone like me who likes a fair amount of predictability. But, the only thing to do at that point was wait for, what turned out in my case, to be a year to have another seizure.
My first seizure will always be an important one. It marked a lot of change in my life. It was more defining than my diagnosis, at least in my memory of it. While it is not necessarily a happy memory, it is one that I find important to hold onto.