Thursday, January 29, 2009

Other Lifetimes

I want to talk about brain injury, epilepsy, and patience, and relationships, and love. And wanderlust. I have two lifetimes ago to keep straight. The first lifetime ago began when Greg and I met and married. When he was a attorney to be reckoned with in criminal court, or in cases where he represented mentally ill people locked up in awful institutions for doing nothing more than going to a 7-11 in pajamas to buy an airplane ticket. He represented little, old black women arrested for raiding a recycle bin in a town where they "shouldn't have been". He did conspiracy trials, and drug cases, and divorces, and tackled a restoration of civil rights case for an incredible guy who had turned his life around but wasn't able to get a State business license because of his conviction 30-years ago (then). We live in a little leaning beach shack with our melded family, snorkeled on the weekends with the kids, went fishing, and enjoyed remodeling our slanty shack. That is my first lifetime ago.

Then, our second lifetime ago. Greg has grand mal epilepsy, and has had since he was 18-years old. It didn't stop him from college, or law school. Or practicing law. Three or four times a year, he would have a very bad seizure, but since he could feel them coming on, he could avoid terrible injury, have someone cover for him in court, and recover. Towards the end of our first lifetime ago, the seizures increased, he suffered two TIA's (mini-strokes) and alarmed, he went into the hospital for a "re-vamp", to monitor his medication levels and get him straightened out. The short story...he suffered a massive, prolonged seizure. Forty-five minutes long before they were able to stop it, and he was intubated and in a coma for the next 16 days. Respirator, intensive care, brain scans, MRI's. One-month after entering the hospital, he came home with no short-term memory, unable to walk unassisted, and so medicated he could not remember who anyone was.

I left my no-benefits job to care for him, to arrange physical therapy, doctors appointments, and get medical bills paid by his insurance. Our youngest son came over in the evenings to help get him in and out of the shower. Friends and colleagues were afraid to come see him more than once. He looked good, but the guy we all knew was not there anymore. His seizures continued.

Next time: The beginning of our second lifetime ago.

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