Years of complacency undone by one little pill
Twenty-three years is a long time to get used to something. For twenty-three years I took the same medication, the same drug to treat my seizures, to quell the nighttime shaking that would wake me, immobilized in fear. It’s ironic, really, how my memories of seizures aren’t of shaking at all, but of perceived catatonia, an unmovable stillness, feeling frozen and voiceless. Of course, that’s only how it seemed to me, staring outward from frightened, confused eyes into the shadows of a darkened room: what felt like a silent stillness was actually a trembling and groaning, my voice rising up from my throat and edging past gritted teeth as my muscles flexed and quaked. It was only later that I realized that the nightmare sounds of a growling animal in my bed were, in fact, my own.
Twenty-three years is a long time for one pill to keep the stillness: so long as I took it, I was safe, my nights restful and calm. But twenty-three years is a long time for one body, one liver, one frame to bear one chemical, and it was time for a change. Safer for my bones, I was told. I was unworried. Well, not entirely, but as close as someone as fitful as I can get.
Twenty-three years of afterthought, twenty-three years of never, ever feeling ill. I am not my neurological condition. I am not defined by the short-circuit in my wiring. For twenty-three years this was true.
Now I am shaking. Now my muscles twitch, my very bones and organs tremble and seem to vibrate within me. Now my legs – strong cyclist legs, graceful dancer’s muscles – feel weak and unsteady. Now I clutch the wall, the chair, the table. Now I call the pharmacy, the chief neurologist, anyone at all, and ask how to make the shaking stop. “How bad is it?” they ask.
Bad enough. Bad enough that my hand shakes when I write. Bad enough that I wonder if I’ll fall. Bad enough that I am aware – keenly, presently, constantly – that I am epileptic. No more person-first language: now I am become my condition. Now it defines my days. Now it shapes my world.
How bad is it? Bad enough that I am shaken.
Fear and trembling have beset me;horror has overwhelmed me.I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!I would fly away and be at rest. ~Ps. 55
Writer, student, motherwww.darlenemcleod.online