I could be angry about a lot right now, but I’m choosing not to.
I could be angry that after going 3 ½ years unmedicated (this last round), my son was seizure free, until this morning.
I could be angry that it happened at school, in the cafeteria, with all of his friends around him.
I could be angry at the kid who recorded it and uploaded it to Snapchat: “Seizures – 1, (My son’s name) – 0.”
I could be angry that the EMS worker was in training and asked a million asinine questions as if I knew nothing about seizures.
I could be angry that there were so many workers being trained on the ambulance that there was no room for me in the back, and they butchered his arm with the IV.
I could be angry that the ER we visited couldn’t wait to get us out of there.
He had his first seizure the day after Katrina. We had celebrated his 2nd birthday just two days before. We evacuated to my sister-in-law’s 900 square foot apartment in Baton Rouge. I was pregnant with my daughter, set to deliver in November, and not like cutesy pregnant. It was more like hippopotamus pregnant. The power had gone out, so we did our best to keep he and his cousin, born a month apart, running around in their diapers, entertained, We spent a lot of time outside where he learned about helicopters. “Cockahs, Mommy. Yook! Cockahs!” Although I had never experienced a seizure before, something in my gut knew exactly what it was when we heard that unmistakable guttural sound from the back bedroom.
I grabbed my sweet boy under my arm and slung him to the hallway, like a hippo ninja. My instincts and high school intern training kicked in, so I laid him on his side and cradled his head as I crouched over the abdominal hill that was my daughter. There were two simultaneous dialogues going on: The one in my head pleaded with God not to take my baby, and the one out loud that spoke on its own reassured him that Mommy was here.
Later that night, sitting in a crowded waiting room bursting with Katrina refugees, I cradled my comatose, diapered, baby boy on my chest, right on top of my baby girl nestled sweetly in the womb. The news was live-streaming footage of my hometown, Slidell, and I watched as the helicopter camera panned to the flooded street that led to my house. I was numb.
That was thirteen years ago. I’ve been with him through all of his falls, his breaks, his seizures that amounted to hundreds a day when he was a toddler, the MRI’s, the sleep-deprived EEG’s, the trips across the lake to the specialist, the weaning him off his meds, the bloodwork, the ER…
In the back of our minds, we knew it could happen again, but as each day passed, we were just thankful to have him around.
It didn’t happen in a pool. It didn’t happen when he was alone. It didn’t happen when we were at the beach over Spring Break.
I’m thankful he was surrounded by his closest friends who knew exactly what to do. They’re old enough now not to be scared of it. I teach at his high school, so when I got the call on my cell phone that is literally always in my possession, I took off my wedges and sprinted to the cafeteria. I’m thankful for all the running I’ve done to stave off my anxiety. I got to him in a matter of seconds.
I’m thankful that the principal handled the Snapchat situation, and even more thankful that my son reacted to it with grace and maturity.
I’m thankful there are people learning how to save lives on an ambulance, even if they can’t find a vein to save their lives.
I’m thankful my husband and I are well-versed enough on his condition that the hospital didn’t phase us.
I’m thankful I’m strong enough and intelligent enough to work the wheelchair the angry nurse shoved at me.
I’m thankful for the outpouring of love from our community.
But most of all, I’m thankful he’s resilient, and brave, and humble, and here.
About Jessica Olivard Jackson
Jessica has been married for 16 years to a Junior High Principal. She is mom to Abel, 15, and Ava, 13 and she is currently teaching high school English.