Last Tuesday, was it? Times flees and runs around in circles and comes back and rearranges things when it is the season of Advent. So. Yes. Possibly, last Tuesday. Jessie went out with her friend RG after RG had finished writing her last paper of the term. They ate and drank and talked about love and bad TV and then Jessie came home and fell asleep and woke at 5 am feeling sick and promptly fainted in this way that she has that makes you think it is a seizure.
She doesn’t just drop gracefully, eyes rolling up or closing, and then lie there. She, as in life, has her own way of what we now know is fainting (or syncope, if you want to get all medical). She drops, yes. Then her eyes roll back into her head and stay open so you can really only see the whites. She rasps/chokes for air, stops breathing, and then begins to turn blue. At this point all her limbs go board-stiff and then jerk. If you can get her into a prone position and keep her lying down, she does quickly recover, freaks because she has fainted, panics, and if you let her up, does it all over again. A couple of times. In a close space, it looks and feels even worse than that. In fact, on Tuesday night even the paramedics, who were present for the third and final episode of the morning, said it was definitely a seizure.
But at the hospital it was ruled as a “syncopal event.” Again. You think I’d believe them. After all the neurological and cardiac tests. But sometimes, in the midst of one of these, I too panic. This can’t be fainting, I think. This looks too serious, is too much NOT Jessie. And then I recount what she looks like, double check three or four times with the doctor, the medical staff … “turns blue!” I say. “Goes stiff and then jerks!” I repeat. “Like this!” I say and I want to lie down on the ground and act it out. I don’t. “Ah,” said Tuesday’s doctor. ”Myoclonic jerks!” “Hey,” said Dan, “that’s a good name for a band!”
We laughed. We relaxed a bit. And this is how we started our Christmas holiday season: breakfast in the emergency ward. Jessie, her usual smiley self, almost fully recovered.
We will have the usual anxiety to deal with. The waking in a panic. The calls for help or a sleep buddy. But this is manageable. Or that is what I keep telling myself as I breath and count on mother instinct to always kick in, keeping an even keel, an even voice: breathing in we relax the body, breathing out we sigh. Breathing in . . . . and out. Breathing in . . . . and out.
It’s how I mother, or try to. Slow and steady. In and out. A rhythm on its own that is primal and yet sometimes so distant that I need to coach Jessie, and myself, into its graceful hold. In and out . . . of the seasons, of the year, of the living of a life. It’s in and out.
A bittersweet beginning; but maybe, in all this coaching, I will get it right.