Savannah's infectious smile

Savannah's infectious smile
Smile like you mean it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Opportunity lost, but I won't let it happen again

My daughter Savannah and I sat on the grass near where her brother was having soccer practice.  She had made a friend, a little sister of a boy on the team, and together they sat and played Barbies in the sunshine.  Sitting around us were all the other parents that had come to watch their boys play.  In a split second, without warning (as usual) Savannah’s body stiffened and she was thrust forward, head first, into the grass.  Instinctively, I did what I had done so many times before.  I gently rolled Savannah onto her side and saw what I always saw.  Her face was rigid, and the muscles in her lips and eyelids twitched relentlessly.  Her arms and legs were completely stiff and at the joints, they jerked violently.  She made frothing sounds with her mouth, and blood and saliva rolled down her chin because she had, again, bitten her tongue. 
It was just like the other seizures Savannah had everyday.  Only this time, she had an audience.  And this audience was obviously not a group of people who had ever seen a seizure before.  The little girl next to Savannah became afraid.  She looked to her mother for guidance, and her mother, who was equally terrified, motioned to her.  The girl ran away from Savannah and into her mother’s clutching grasp. The other parents stared at us with their mouths open in bewilderment, and I begin to feel oddly uncomfortable.   Seeing their reaction, I put my back to them and shielded Savannah from their glances.  When her seizure was over, I scooped her up into my arms; calmly told the onlookers the Savannah had had a seizure, and took her home.
Upon reflection, I became angry – at first I was angry with them.  How could they act that way?  It wasn’t Savannah’s fault she had seizures.  And it’s not like it can’t happen to anybody.  But then, I got mad at myself.  I realized that I could have used that ugly situation to educate about 15 people, including one impressionable little girl, about epilepsy.  And I was sad for the opportunity lost. 
Seizures can be ugly - Especially convulsive ones.  They scare people.   But if we are ever going to erase the myths and misconceptions that exist about epilepsy, we’re going to have to let people see seizures, and then explain to them what they are seeing.  If I had it to do over again, I would handle that situation at the park a lot differently.  At least now I’m prepared should it happen again . . . or in our case, when it happens again.

Over 25,000 of these crummy seizures (click to view clip from upcoming documentary being filmed by this great couple)

And she's still smiling!!!  That-a-girl!!!

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