Yesterday, my nap ended as I woke to my arms in spasms. I called for help. Linda and Cheryl came. I knew the memories that I had, the smells, sights and presence of 1987 pouring over me like a waterfall let loose. Memories so overwhelming and powerful that they washed even the comments Cheryl had said hours earlier, that I had been college, that I had been married, until they were shadows I could barely see.
Where I lived, what I smelled, and heard and felt was the fear of living in LA, of a world were people were kept in Beirut for years, and no one ever told me why, and the Soviet Union was looming, always looking for some way to advance the revolution. I was an obedient child. I didn't get in trouble much. I wanted a treat, a new health food, the Frojurt (Frozen Yogurts) up on Lake Street, Pasadena. I wanted to go shop at Trader Joes, or go to Macy’s. I knew the terror of five to seven helicopters coming in a silent V formation dropping a sheet of Malathion, whether you were inside or out, leaving cars pitted and pets dead behind them. I knew how to get to level four of Qbert and level 5 at Frogger, but I always messed up the last “home” in the top right corner because the logs moved very fast and I jumped my frog too early.
But I wasn’t there now, I knew that, I was here, and here was where I belonged, though I couldn’t really remember much beyond that. I was an adult now, but I remembered that I had spent hours talking to “adults” as a teen, calling Linda “ma’am” and minding my manners. I did not question ‘adults’ asking me questions because they were adults and I wasn’t. Being a teen was about people calling you in and asking you questions about your future, about what you where doing, what you were reading. I had told them about Typing Class and how I had done all the extra credit assignments and was getting an A, and what books and authors I was reading. I remembered them trying to say this was my place, which was so funny. I was a teen, how can a teen have a “place”? And all this stuff, a whole collection of things, a teen can't have that, not what was beyond what can be stuffed under the bed or in drawers or the closet (for room inspection to determine if I could go out this weekend)? When they told me that it belonged to the lady there, Linda, that made more sense. Adults could be messy if they wanted to, they had places, apartments. I waited for more questions, and wanted to know when my parents were coming to pick me up. I talked about how I got yelled at when I spent too much time on my Atari computer.
Only now, I had napped and was awake. And could see and remember one world but I knew I was in another. My arm started to shake on it’s own. “What is happening?” I asked.
Cheryl said, “The heat, maybe the dehydration, it’s causing another seizure.”
Another seizure, more pain; my arm was twitching and flopping as individual muscles in my arms seized or acted as nerves fired. I was having a prolonged neural storm. The heat was a trigger, but my nerves were firing independently. During the seizure, they had removed objects from around me, in order to stop me from hurting myself.
I was exhausted, not tired as I as just woken but like I been placed in a centrifuge. We talked a little, enough to confirm, I knew I was in Canada. But 1987 was still there, and my head hurt. Linda wanted to touch me, to rub me, comforting herself that I was back, or some part of me was back. “Fire” I told her, every time I was touched it was like fire lighting up in my brain.
Then the fire hurt more, my brain hurt more, and my right arm locked, my face started to writhe. I pointed with my arm to a book on Superstitions. They opened it for me, I pointed to snakes and my face. And they understood as my face was changing, writhing, contorting on its own. Cheryl said something like, "Independant face contortions." I pointed to my belly, and Cheryl placed her hand there. She said later it was taut but like a skin over a bowl of snakes and the muscles were not acting like muscles, acting together but each having the nerves and firing independently to twitch, to flop, or writhe between two other rigid muscles. I passed out.
When I awoke, I begged the two of them, to stop this, a seizure every few minutes. Please, stop this, this helpless violation as the control of my body was given over to an invisible and sadistic puppet master; leaving me to wake with the consequences. I drank 3/4th of a litre of Gatorade and some caffine. Anything that might work. I waited in case the nerve in my stomach decided to projectile vomited.
“What is that smell of burning?” I asked.
Cheryl said, “There is no smell.” She looked pointedly at Linda before asking, “What do you smell?”
“Well, it is more like a taste now, a burning.”
Cheryl said, “People often report that before a seizure.”
“No…” I begged her, with my eyes, with my mouth, she was sitting right there. She couldn’t let this happen to me again, not just after I had done everything, not just minutes after the last one. Please…please…...save me?
And then the Grand Mal hit.
When I woke up I couldn’t use my right side but I could use my left hand. I was signing questions, doing ASL better than they had seen me do it before. In 1987 I was an ASL interpreter: and what I knew in 1987, I knew that afternoon.
My body was cooled and I started to recover but things, from the big to little were gone.
I looked back on the day with humiliation and violation. Not by any person, but by my brain. As an adult, who would want to reveal every thought, every intonation, every immature black and white thinking of being a teen? And yet, I was that, for hours, because that is who I was; from the fear, the terror and listening to sounds, as sounds could save your life in LA. I spouted my juvenile brainwashing, and bubbled my teenage reading tastes all discussed with an openness that precluded the ability to chose what I wanted people to know about me. Because I wasn’t me, I was the me of 1987. And I had been taught to obey. And as open as I am on this blog, I would have preferred to chose, to make context than just have my spouse and my friend/adopted sister see WHAT I was; without defenses.
That was followed by having my body, seizure after seizure again and again. I couldn’t even stop my right arm from flopping around between them, just cover it with a blanket. No, it wasn’t sexual but it was a violation, a removal of control of my body and my mind. No one’s fault, but the feelings of shame and humiliation remain. I feel them, I remember; of looking to Cheryl in desperation and pleading that she STOP this, please. If she loved me, then just stop it...somehow.
With the heat wave, and the lack of sleep reserves, along with being active and talking; all of which seem to be triggers, I had two more seizures this/Sunday morning (though I can’t remember them, because I had a couple more this afternoon). Clonic/Tonic, petite Mal, Grand Mal, heat stroke, Neural storm: I have seizures in my sleep when it gets warm. I lose time, I lose memory. Did I have another stoke this weekend? I don’t know, I know I had a stroke earlier but I can’t remember when it was. I will be glad when this heat stroke is over and I can talk to someone without risking a seizure.
I’m watching an anime, it won’t be in the US for many months if not a couple years. It is called Ef: A Tale a Memory and involves two female twins, one who goes to school and another (pinked haired) called Chihiro, who does not, she stays alone. She goes to an abandoned train station and reads. There she meets a boy named Renji. When he says he’ll see her tomorrow, and she see him tomorrow, she starts crying. After day and day of spending time together Chihiro tells Renji that because of a car accident she lost an eye but also her memory doesn’t last longer than a day. She talks of the “me” of today, and the “me” of yesterday. She talks of reading her writing, her diary to know how to interact, to know what people expect of her.
To hear someone, even a fictional character saying things that I have written, have felt. That it would be better if I was removed from society so that I would bother people less. It is such a personal and bittersweet pain that brings me to tears.
I cannot watch much of this series at a time, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Chichiro has a dream, that she can write a story while being “me”, a single person, with THAT current memory. But there is struggle, and pain because those around her, don’t always understand. One day it is pouring rain so hard that Renji decides that no one, not even Chichiro would go to the station in the rain and he stays inside. The next day she isn’t there, she is sick. Her guardian comes and tells Renji that she came and stayed until midnight because it said in her diary: “Renji said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ Renji is my friend”
She spends her morning reading her dairy, and the afternoon remembering and repeating to herslef what she wants to remember in the morning, what things are important, that she was in an accident, for example. And when she wants to self harm, she only has to rip out pages from her diary to make cuts deeper than knife wounds to her mind, her stability. This is a short two minute AMV about the series, which is titled Stand in the Rain. The title means, that when you cry, Stand in the Rain. We cannot stop the pain; the emotional or the physical. But we can choose not to be stopped by it, to cover our tears by standing in the rain. Or we could be stopped, but that won’t stop the pain, or the tears.
I likely won’t stop begging when the seizures come, or stop feeling the fear in my gut, knowing that my body is not my own again. But I either face and admit I have the fears, the shame, the feelings of violation, or I hide away.
17 hours ago