Just a Few Seconds

It was just over a month ago when I wrote my last post. I’d been thinking then that I’d be starting to write at least a couple of times a week again, but something happened something I’ve been asking myself whether it’s okay to write about and feeling I need to put in writing here before I can go on with other stories. Those who’ve been reading my blog for some time know that I have epilepsy. I am one of the lucky ones whose seizures are infrequent and are usually nocturnal, for the most part my epilepsy doesn’t impact my day to day life, except that sometimes it does.

While 2020 was a hard year for most of us, it brought a few blessings for me. I got to come back to my home state of Wisconsin and wound up in a small town of roughly 2,500 people about half an hour from Madison. Poynette is the kind of town that could have hosted “Leave It to Beaver.” It’s a beautiful little place with lots of big old houses, parks, a grocery store, library, and most everything that you really need in walking distance and all around Rowen Creek a lovely trout stream that flows through town. I started 2021 working from home in a beautiful little town not far from Madison or the simply gorgeous Baraboo Hills. I needed to find long term work, but overall life was filled with gifts.

Then on the afternoon of Friday, August 13th, I decided to go to the Piggly Wiggly to pick up a bag of tortilla chips and a bottle of carbonated water. It was hot so I opted to drive the mile or so to the store rather than walk. On the way home I turned off of Main St. onto my street. I was less than a block from my house when I seized and hit the gas. The car roared up the street. My neighbor told me later that I must have been going at least 80mph and went airborne before I hit the fence at the water treatment plant just down the block. My car hit a cement pole in the fence. The tow truck driver told me later that’s what saved me from landing in the treatment pond. Had my car been a foot to the left or right I would have either landed in the treatment pond or hit one of the buildings on either side of where I landed and likely would have been killed.

Instead, I began to come out of the seizure when I hit that pole. I knew I hit something. I thought at that point it was a mailbox. I knew I had to get the car stopped, that there might be children riding their bikes or playing on the street. The next thing I knew I’d been hit with the airbag and the car was stopped. I was able to get out and walk up the street. I told the police who’d just arrived what happened.

The seizure probably lasted less than thirty seconds, maybe less than ten. It was no longer than the time that it takes to send a text or even to change the radio station, but I could have died or killed an innocent child. It gave me pause. My car was totaled and I voluntarily surrendered my drivers license. I don’t know right now if I’ll decide to get it back when my seizures are fully controlled. I do know that it’s an important and challenging subject for people with epilepsy to think about and discuss. I also know that it’s something for all of us to think about.

Giving up my drivers license means moving. I can’t live in a little town without public transportation. It also means facing ableism in my search for long term employment. It is simply amazing how many employers require that people be able to drive for positions that don’t involve driving. I’m lucky. I’ll be moving back to Madison where I have a strong network of friends and good connections. I’m working in a role right now that will work with me and I’m confident that I’ll find the right long term position for me very soon in a city that has good public transportation. I’ve got it really good, not everyone does.

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