Chris didn’t drop like a stone. He toppled, rigidly, like a falling tree. The security camera that caught his seizure shows a millisecond of confusion before he falls, with surprising grace, over the edge of the metre-high platform and onto the concrete floor. I wince even thinking about how his hands didn’t reach out to break his fall; how his head could have – but didn’t – hit the floor first; how narrowly the sheet-steel blades of the spotlight tumbling with him missed his torso.
Five days of EEG’s, CT-Scans, MRI’s and blood-work later, he has the all clear…for now. He’ll be back in a specialised epilepsy unit in a few weeks for a filmed EEG. We are 90% sure that the seizure was caused by a combination of a new medication and a lack of sleep. Given our recent medical history though, 90% isn’t enough. We’ll head back to make that 100%. For now, he’s back at school, pleased as punch to be signed off PE until the end of the term.
I’m not doing as well. My “take-when-you-need-to” stock of Urbanol is quickly becoming depleted. My heart races and my mind loops through the 24 hours where I explained over and over to a memory-wiped Chris where he was and what had happened.
The memory of another phone call, with another boy, is always here. Always hovering in the corner of my mind.
“You can’t live life always worrying if something will happen to your kids,” the psychiatrist tells me. But of course, he’s wrong. I can. I do.
And of course, he’s also right. He calls in anxiety. He tells me it’s only to be expected. He tells me that it won’t go away but in 2 – 5 years I might feel like I can cope with it. He tells me to set the bar lower, to celebrate not needing to be in a psych ward.
I call it terror. I call it waking at 3 am to check on Chris. I call it the memory of how I told myself to stop imaging the worst only to have some new and unimaginably terrible torment manifest in my kid. I call it knowing that I couldn’t have changed the outcome but still spending every day looking for that moment where a tiny choice could have set us on a different path. A cancer-free path. A seizure-free, path. A happily-ever-after path. A path with the comfort of everyday worries.
It’s no way to live. I know that. I don’t know how to change it.