A day of chaos

One year and four months ago, the duct-taped wonder also known as the "Ghetto Dryer" slowly died. A $50 miracle - the matching dryer to our splurge of a front-loading washer - replaced it. The dryer struggles shone a light on some spiritual unrest deep within, and I wrote about it in detail back in December, 2008. Tonight, the miracle dryer started on fire. Somehow or other, a metal headband got thrown in with the wash, plugged itself in to the circuitry at the rear of the dryer, and electricity and smoke billowed forth. The fix was simple - the flames hadn't actually burst out yet, and opening the dryer door stopped the flow of electricity. However, the heating element seems to have taken the brunt of the damage, so the dryer is probably kaput. Aaron and I ran around locating the fire extinguisher, cleaning out the laundry closet at midnight. Quite a scene! Beyond the dryer itself and the blackened headband, there was little damage.

It was a fitting end to an equally chaotic day. Amelia had two seizures today that were the blatant, twitchy, nasty type we have been thanking God she doesn't have. I am beginning to settle into the new normal...the life in which whatever you least expect will always happen, the life in which whatever you fear will probably come to pass. I wouldn't call it resignation exactly, just a kind of resolute and dogged expectation. The seizures lasted about 2 minutes, and were full-blown enough that any denial I have been entertaining about the reality of epilepsy was completely swept away. The post-seizure (post-ictal) phase was also significantly more "classic": overwhelming lethargy, drowsiness, decreased ability to respond to commands or questions, dilated pupils, poor muscle tone. A few phone calls with the team at Mayo brings relief on one hand, and sorrow on the other: the video EEG monitoring in mid April has been cancelled, as it is unnecessary given the new circumstances; and Amelia was started on an anti-convulsant medication today, Keppra.

My primal reaction to the first seizure was horror. The nice thing about being a nurse is that, when confronted with any health crisis, the very first thing that happens inside of me is the nurse "switch" gets flipped. I immediately run down the checklist: Airway, Breathing, Circulation. It isn't until later that emotions creep back in. At first, I felt relief - this seizure was so undeniable, I am no longer faced with uncertainty about whether the side effects of seizure medication outweighs the benefit. I know now that Amelia needs this treatment. Yet I am stricken with the thought of watching my dear one grow up with a disabling condition, a condition that will probably limit learning to some degree, will certainly embarrass her and cause emotional angst, may limit career choices, educational endeavors, or social opportunities. Yet I also know that, finally - in my 30's - I can finally see the health problems of my youth as the gift they were. I would not be the tenacious fighter, the compassionate nurse, or the impulsive, fun-loving mother I am now if it hadn't been for heart failure at 18 and cancer at 29. Today I heard a man dying of cancer say, "God cannot give me a bad gift." God has not given Amelia a bad gift - nor has He given a bad gift to me as her mother. I need to get my teeth into that lesson in the next few days. All over again, in a new way. The prism of God's character is thrust once again before my wandering eyes, and I am brought back to my knees in praise. God is God; God is good; God is great.