So I’d say about 98% of my posts are humor and/or ranting based. I use this blog as my therapy, to have fun and for extra credit, I’ve met some AMAZING people. But every time I begin to write a serious post, I change my mind and leave it dormant in the trash file. A post I’ve been thinking about for some time now is how epilepsy was treated (or hidden) in my home growing up and what was asked of us and the reasoning behind it. Yes, not a funny story (well, I may add a dash of humor and I won’t get offended if you laugh) so I totally get it if you want to leave now and move to something not so serious.
I grew up in a town about 30 miles East of Columbus. It was a descent size town and my family made a living with an Italian restaurant. My father was very well-known, loved and respected in the community. He looked like a thinner version of Sylvester Stallone so often times I found myself rolling my eyes when soccer moms were flirting. Even grosser, he would occasionally flirt back.
But this well-loved member of the community had a secret I was told to NEVER tell anyone. Not teachers, not friends, not kids that worked for my dad….no one.
Growing Up With an Epileptic Father
“There are still people out there that think epileptics are possessed by the devil,” my mother would routinely remind my sisters and I. I just rolled my eyes every time she said it because I didn’t believe it. Sure, there was probably some 95-year-old farmer that believed this non-sense but they probably didn’t eat in restaurants anyway. Regardless, I still kept my mouth shut and only told my best friend. To piggyback on the whole possessed by the devil thing, it was my mom’s fear that if word got out about my dad, people would stop coming to the restaurant, the restaurant would close and we would be out of our very healthy income. And cassette tapes and Caboodles aren’t going to buy themselves. Am I right?
I don’t know if this is how it is for most epileptics but here is what would trigger my dad’s: stress, lack of sleep, alcohol. So essentially, everything that went into being a successful entrepreneur of an Italian restaurant.
“Do NOT call 911,” my mother would tell me as she was getting ready to head to the hospital. She was a nurse and worked at The Ohio State University Hospital on the weekends. At the ripe old age of 9, I was tasked with watching my father have a very physical seizure, take care of my 2 younger sisters if he did then with my tiny little body, restrain him from leaving the house or hurting himself. Coming out of a seizure left him dazed and confused, shuffling around and mumbling. This would often scare me as he was like a drunk zombie.
I didn’t quiet have the following words at 9, as I had never cussed before but essentially when I was alone for the first time with my dad and he was seizuring, I was like, “fuck this shit, I’m calling 911.”
The paramedics were totally cool and half of their job was calming me down.
“My mom is going to kill me!” I cried in complete hysteria. “She said never to call you guys but I was worried he was going to swallow his tongue, I didn’t know what to do.”
They assured me I had done the right thing and even insisted I call them whenever he does have a seizure. I used this to my advantage (and protection) when my mom found out what I had done. I kinda’ hid behind the paramedics advice and fortunately, she didn’t kill me.
This continued to happen during my teenage years and I became REALLY good at applying concealer to my dad’s face. His seizures occurred in every place but a soft bed such as walking down a flight of steps or falling off his chair and banging his head. Sometimes it just felt like a routine. After I got over the shock of watching his seizure, I would just go to work:
Dad has black eye
Cover up black eye before school
Dad is healed
In 2003 we lost him to a seizure. We weren’t on speaking terms and hadn’t been for 7 months so if there is a word greater than sucked, please insert it here to describe this event when it occurred. I always say irony is a comedian but come on!
Wow, that was a little too dark and a whole lot of depressing. Sorry, I don’t know why I wanted to post this. This isn’t a significant day or anything.
Don’t be surprised if my next post isn’t about farts or something…..seriously……I need to lighten the mood after that one.