Two years ago at the beginning of September, my family's lives changed forever.
I was working nights at Sparton Electronics (yes, I spelled Sparton right) and called Kevin at my supper break at 9:00 as I normally did. He told me he had fallen asleep and had a strange dream that he was lying on the floor and not able to get up. In his dream, he tried to yell for Lilly to call my mom but couldn't get the words out. He told me that before his dream, he had a weird feeling in his arm and leg. He told me he didn't know he even fell asleep and the next thing he knew he was in the bathroom. I told him to just get some rest if he wasn't feeling well and I would call at my next break at 11:30. I told him if he was sleeping to not bother getting up to get the phone.
I got home at 2:00am and read for a bit to get some down time. Then I crawled into bed with Kevin, Rosemary and Victoria. Kevin woke for a bit and said he was feeling strange still, I told him to get some sleep. To tell the truth, I was kind of annoyed with Kevin right then. I can't really explain why, just a feeling of frustration that he can't even take care of his own issues and had to foist them on me. I was tired, it was past 2:00am, I was just getting off my shift, I was irrational. I drifted off to sleep.
At around 4:00, I woke up because the bed was shaking. I nudged Kevin and told him he was kicking in his sleep. He responded that he wasn't doing it on purpose and that this had happened before he had his strange dream. I have to admit that even at that point, I was annoyed with him. I told him to stop it. Then his arm left arm started shaking. He grabbed his left wrist with his right hand and tried to stop the shaking and told me he was trying to make it stop.
Then, he lost consciousness.
As he fell back on his pillow, his left arm went straight out to his side and continued convulsing, all the while hitting poor Victoria in the head. I scooted her out of the way and then called 911. They told me it sounded like he was having a seizure and an ambulance was on the way. They asked me if he had ever had a seizure before, and I told them no. They told me to make sure he was breathing OK. I said he was making strange noises and how do I know he's breathing OK. They asked me what did the noises sound like. I told them like gurgling, choking kind of noises. They asked if he was choking on his tongue and I said "How the hell should I know! He's never had a seizure before!" Then the shaking began to lessen and so I told them I think he's stopping and hung up on them. That is when the adrenalin really kicked in.
I have had many people say to me that they would have lost their head if that happened to them, and they wouldn't know what to do. They give me compliments and praise me that I was able to remain so level headed while all that was going on.* I let them go on about how great I am, all the while thinking in my head "if you only knew..."
I got off the phone with 911 and Kevin stopped shaking. His seizure lasted two to three minutes, with him being unconscious for a good chunk of those minutes. When he stopped shaking, I sat down on the edge of the bed and started talking to him. I told him he had a seizure and that I called 911 and an ambulance was on the way. He just kept on looking at me and not saying anything. Kevin was catatonic and kept on tapping me on the leg and then tapping himself on his head. Kind of like this tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on my leg then tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on his head. Over and over and over. I talked to him but he couldn't talk in his catatonic state. I said "Are you OK?" Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Kevin, are you OK?" Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Kevin, please be OK..." Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. I told him that I was going to move Victoria and Rosemary out of the bed and I would be right back. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. I moved the two girls into their own beds.
I ran back and sat down by Kevin again. Then I thought "Oh crap! I better go unlock the door for the paramedics!" So I told Kevin I was going to unlock the door and that I would be right back. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. I ran down the stairs and unlocked the door. You see, I didn't want the doorbell to wake the kids. Yup, that was my thought process. My brain was just going a mile a minute at this point. Then I thought "I better call my mom. She's going to have to take the kids tonight!" So I ran into the kitchen and picked up the phone and started dialing. Then I thought "Geeze Sara! What the hell are you doing! You need to go make sure Kevin's OK!"
So I ran back up the stairs and sat back down on the bed. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "You had a seizure Kevin, I called an ambulance." Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Do you understand?" Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "I don't understand what you are trying to tell me." Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Kevin, can you understand me?" Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Are you OK? Does your head hurt? I don't know what you're trying to tell me." Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. Right then, I was more worried than I had ever been before in my life. I didn't know if he would ever recover, if he would ever talk again, if he could understand me, what he was trying to tell me. So, I decided to ask him to wave his hand in front of my face if he understood what I told him. He waved his hand in front of my face and then tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. I was relieved. I said to him "I am going to go downstairs and check for the paramedics. Wave your hand in front of my face if it's OK if I leave you for a couple of seconds." He waved his hand in front of my face and then tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head.
I ran back downstairs and went outside, no ambulance. Then I thought "I better get the girls shoes and coats ready to go!" and started to gather their things. Then I stopped myself and said "No! Call mom! She'll need to meet me at the hospital!" and ran into the kitchen to call my mom. I got to the phone and stopped myself again and ran back up the stairs and into our room to be with Kevin.
When I got in the room, Kevin was trying to sit up. I ran over to the bed and gently pushed him back down. I told him that he needed to wait until the ambulance got there before he got up. He was able to talk at that point and told me he had to go to the bathroom. I told him to lay back down until the ambulance got there. He snapped at me and said "I'm not going to the washroom in the bed!" Those were his exact words. I was worried for two reasons. One - Kevin never snaps at me. Never. Two - His wording was a little strange. I would have expected something like "I'm not going to pee in the bed" or something. I was so shocked and worried, but I helped him get out of bed. He could barely walk. I helped him into the bathroom and told him he had to sit down to go pee. He refused. I made him. He could barely stand and I was afraid that he was going to fall over just trying to pee. I didn't want him to bang his head on the toilet, counter or bathtub so I told him if he needs to pee, he can sit down to do it. I helped him with his pants because he couldn't even pull down pyjama pants on his own and helped him to sit down. That's when the doorbell rang.
I ran downstairs and let in the paramedics. I told them what had happened and that Kevin was in the bathroom sitting on the toilet. Now, see all of that that happened above, from when I called 911 to when the paramedics arrived? All of that was in the span of less than five minutes. We lived really close to the station at that time that I'm pretty sure all of that transpired in under three minutes. I know that they strive for less than four minutes between a call and the ambulance arriving. Now, does any of that sound level headed? No, the only level headed thing I did that night was to call the ambulance. The rest of it was just the adrenalin telling me that I needed to be doing something, then something else and keeping me distracted from what I should have been doing - staying with Kevin. Not that I blame me, but it's not the picture of calm that, for some reason, most people think I had that night and I can't convince them otherwise.
When I let the paramedics in, I was ready to collapse. I was so ready to just turn the whole thing over to them because I was in way over my head. One went up the stairs while the other talked to me. I filled him in on what happened and that Kevin had no prior history of seizures and then we joined his partner and Kevin upstairs in the bathroom. The paramedic who was with Kevin was asking him a few questions. I must say right here how much I admire paramedics. When he was done asking Kevin his questions he said to Kevin "I'm going to let you finish up in the bathroom, and wait just out here for you. I'm going to close this door and your wife will help you. Don't forget to wash up after you're done." Why do I admire him for that? Well, he basically told Kevin how it was going to go, what was going to happen and left no room for argument. But, he did it in a way that was commanding but so kind. I asked my paramedic brother just how you learn to talk like that and he told me it just goes with the job. (The reason he reminded Kevin to wash up is because people just coming out of a catatonic state aren't quite able to remember these things on their own.)
So I helped Kevin finish up his business in the bathroom. All the while he kept asking my why the paramedics were there. I kept telling him he had a seizure and needed to go to the hospital. He kept on insisting he was fine.
One of the paramedics asked me to go downstairs to answer a few more questions for him while the other helped Kevin down the stairs. I'm glad that they got there before I attempted to take him down the stairs because both of us would have taken a tumble if I attempted it. Kevin could barely walk, but he was able to go down the stairs slowly, all the while the paramedic went backward down the stairs in front of Kevin with his hand on Kevin's chest to keep him from falling. I never would have thought of that, and that's why these things are best left to the professionals, kids.
While one paramedic helped Kevin, the other asked me some more questions. Just basic ones - what did he do today, what is his job, how many kids do we have, to what hospital did I them to take him, was I bringing my kids or did I have someone to watch them, did I want him to call the police to sit at my house until a sitter got there. Those are the only ones I remember. I answered all of them, told them to take Kevin to Victoria hospital because it's close to my mom's house and my mom can meet me and the kids there and take them over to her house. Just let me call her first. While all that was going on, Kevin and paramedic number two made it down the stairs and paramedic number two sat Kevin on the couch. He and his partner discussed a few things.
While they were talking, I called my mom. I told her Kevin had a seizure and that he was going to Victoria hospital. I was babbling and not really talking straight and she said "Tell me what you want me to do." I told her that she and Paul (my step-dad) need to drive to Victoria Hospital and wait for us there and then one of them will drive the van back to her house. I told her that she would need to come back sometime to get clothes etc. for the kids because I wasn't going to have time to pack anything and not to bother taking the kids to school the next day. She said OK and we hung up.
By the time I got off the phone, the paramedics had a stretcher outside waiting for Kevin. Kevin was still sitting on the couch and was looking at me. I recognized the look he was giving me. He didn't think he needed to go to the hospital but was going to humour me and go along with it. They helped him up on the stretcher and strapped him in. They told me that they would be heading to Victoria Hospital and Kevin would be waiting there for me. While they were loading Kevin into the ambulance, I went upstairs to get the girls. I did not want to see them drive away with Kevin.
I woke the girls up and told them that daddy was going to the hospital in an ambulance. Paramedics, like Uncle Mark, took him and I was going to meet him there and g'ma was going to take them back to her house. Madeleine told me all of the noise woke her up and she heard something happening. I'm very glad she didn't go downstairs to see Kevin on the stretcher or anything. I marched the kids down the stairs and as I was helping them with their shoes and coats, the phone rang. I ran to answer it and it was mom asking me if I wanted her to just come to my house. I told her that the kids were pretty much ready and I didn't want to wait that long to get to the hospital, so no please just meet me there. She said OK and we hung up.
I got the kids all out in the van and we drove to the hospital. It's interesting driving in that time of night. There's no one out at all. There's an eerie sense of peace and quiet. During the drive, I kept on thinking "I guess things were going too well for us."
I got to the hospital and met my mom. Up until that point, I didn't shed a single tear. I was teary, but I kept it together. My mom asked me what happened and I told her everything that I knew and then I said "Things were going so well" and broke down. My mom, who knows that nothing goes well for us without something bad happening after, gave me a big hug and said "I know". You see, two weeks prior to that night, Kevin got a new, really good, job for a really good company. I had started working again after being at home with my kids for eight years and life was good. We had benefits again after two years of having none, so we could take the kids to the dentist (oh the silly things that excite us moms). We were digging ourselves out of some financial trouble, we had money to do fun things now, the stress level in our house was at the lowest it had been in a long time. We were just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It didn't just drop, it kicked us in the ass.
Part 2 coming soon
* In the two years since all of this began for us, I have discovered that it's better to let people do their gushing without trying to tell them that I am only human and they would have done the same thing in my position. At first, I tried to tell all of the "I could never handle it as well as you!" people that yes they could. When you are offered the choice to keep it together or to let it all fall apart, you really have no choice. You have to keep it together. Humans are amazing creatures and are incredibly adaptable. I used to try telling people that I am no different than anyone else, but everyone always protests and tells me that I am stronger than they are. Now, I just sit silently when people tell me these things because it's just not worth the argument.