Monday, September 22, 2014

The Seizure Beast: A Mother's Perspective

His eyes grow wide with terror as his body stiffens into a paralytic state, his mouth turning into a perplexed and focused frown. The epileptic beast overtakes him and sucks at his breath as his pulse races and his skin turns blotchy.

He moans.

Only a few seconds before, he was laughing and playing, enjoying the activity of the moment and the interaction from family around him. Now his fearful eyes search his mother's for help and relief, silently begging her to release him from this entrapment.

The beast in his brain consumes him, surging an electrical storm through his tiny body. Seconds pass, then a pause -- the beast gets distracted for a moment, the little body relaxing as the initial attack subsides.

They wait, peering into each other's faces, knowing what is coming.

"Make it stop, Austin. Make it stop," she commands.

Seconds later the beast roars to life again with repeated waves of spasms, throwing his head forward, splaying his arms in the air, thrusting out his legs, picking his limbs up only to slam them down again against whatever surface is closest -- his head rest, the metal bars on his wheel chair, the hard plastic foot rest -- bruising him in its wake.

His body shakes and shudders under the violent attack.

The spasms might last anywhere from 30 seconds to almost 3 minutes, an eternity to his mother as she watches him gasp for air, eyes still crying out for help, throat releasing moans intermittently as his body allows, his breath shallow as the beast keeps sucking it away.

He begins to turn blue as the beast tries to stifle his breath, sitting on his lungs causing them to seize with the rest of his body.

She lifts his arms up and down over his head, blowing in his face, encouraging him to take a breath.

Fervently she whispers, "Breathe, breathe, come on breathe." She starts to pray, but the words won't form in her mind. She's prayed so many times. She saves her breath, willing it into him.

Locating the phone in her mind, she visualizes dialing 9-1-1.

At last, he inhales a deep breath and exhales a moan, pink returning to his cheeks. His body flinches in the aftershocks as the beast begins its release, retreating to its hideout in the recesses of his brain.

"You did it, baby. It's almost over. Be tough," she encourages, feeling the all too familiar relief wash over her.

He moans and rolls his head to the side anxiously seeking rest and sleep in order to recover.

Her heart hurts for both of them.


  1. This was such a spot on comment of what it is like to watch someone you love, especially a child, have a tonic-clonic seizure. I would only add that you usually cry after the seizure is over and your child is sleeping soundly while his/her brain is trying to recover. It doesn't matter how many times you experience this with your child each time is just as heartbreaking.