Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Blog # 83: A FAMILY DEALS WITH UNRECOGNIZED EPILEPSY Excerpted from Dr. Lance Fogan’s novel, DINGS Chapter 20: Part I

Chapter 20: Part I

Conner was still asleep at noon. Madison sat at the kitchen table with us and gulped chocolate milk from her sippy cup.
Sam held up half of a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich for her to bite. She asked, “Where did we go yethterday, Daddy?”
As he started to explain, I jumped up to answer the phone. “Oh, thank you for calling back, Dr. Jackson. I want to tell you what happened to Conner last night…”
After I hung up I said to Madison, “Hey, kiddo, how about watching a Barney DVD?”
The toddler grinned and clapped her hands. “Yay!”
“Would you pour some coffee, honey? I’ll get her started on the DVD, and then I’ll tell you what Dr. Jackson said.” I returned to the kitchen a few minutes later. In a low voice, I said, “The pediatrician was very complimentary of Dr. Choy. Apparently, Dr. Jackson works with him a lot. And with Dr. O’Rourke, that neurologist Conner’s going to see. Anyway, he agreed that we should continue to give Conner the Dilantin since Dr. Choy had already started it. But, he said that the neurologist might change the medication, or even stop it—please, God.”
I sat down and poured cream into my coffee. I smiled and watched the steam rise and swirl above my blue-and-white mug. The edges of my lips took a cautious, noisy sip. “Just like Dr. Choy said, Dr. Jackson thinks that we should tell Conner’s teachers what happened. You know, so they’ll be aware of, well—in case anything happens at school.”
Sam nodded. “So, Dr. Jackson thinks it could happen again, too, even though all of Dr. Choy’s tests were normal and he’s on the medicine?”
“Well, no! I mean, it shouldn’t.” I put my cup down too hard and some coffee sloshed onto the table. I stared at the spilled drops and then pushed them together with my finger. “That medicine, the Dilantin, should prevent any more of those seizures, he said.”
“But, Sandra, until we see the specialist—until we know exactly what’s going on—I mean, could Conner have another convulsion?”
My eyes bored into his. “Yessss.”
“Mommy! Mommy! I’m hungry!”
We sprang from our chairs. I called into the den, “Madison, we’ll be right back, honey!”
Sam took the stairs two steps at a time in front of me.
Conner was sitting up in bed when we got to his room. “It’s so late, Mom. What about school? My tongue hurts real bad. I hurt all over! And, I got a bandage on my arm, and there’s one on my back, too! How’d they get there?”
Sam and I exchanged a quick glance. Sam sat on Conner’s bed. I knelt on the floor and wrapped both arms around my son. I closed my eyes and squeezed him. I did not know how to tell him about his convulsion, or even if I should tell him. No, of course, he needed to know. Still short of breath after the rush up the stairs, I asked, “Do you remember what happened last night, honey?” Conner shook his head.
“You remember how bad your cough was last night, and your nose was all runny? Do you remember?”
“Well, you got a real high fever and your cold made you shake all over. It made you bite your tongue, too. That’s why it hurts, honey. Here, let’s see it.” I stuck mine out reflexively.
His swollen tongue—pink, but for a bluish, ragged gash along its left side—jutted out between his teeth. “Ooooh! It hurts.”
“I know it does. But, the doctor said it’ll get better in a day or two, honey.”
“Doctor? I was shaking? Why? What doctor said?”
“Daddy and I took you to the hospital last night because you were shaking. You stopped after a couple of minutes.” I looked at Sam. He nodded. “You had a brain scan—a CT scan the doctor called it—and some other tests.”
“Oh. I don’t remember. A brain scan! I had a brain scan, Mommy? Oh, boy! Wait ’til I tell the other kids. I know about them from TV! I remember that doctor guy, Beth’s father that came to my class and showed us pictures. Can I have breakfast?”
“Of course you can, and you can stay home from school today, too.” I laughed and squeezed him tighter. “How’s about chocolate-chip pancakes with lots of syrup and some chocolate milk?”
“Yeah! Let’s go!”
I remembered the headache Dr. Choy said could happen after the spinal tap. “How do you feel honey? Does your head hurt?”
“I feel achy, Mom. My cough is better, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is, honey. Does your head hurt?”
“No. My tongue hurts. Can I have those pancakes and chocolate milk?”


         The second half of Chapter 20 of DINGS will appear in a future blog.

Lance Fogan, M.D. is Clinical Professor of Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “DINGS” is his first novel. It is a mother’s dramatic story that teaches epilepsy, now available in eBook, audiobook and soft cover editions.