Sometimes the smallest things are the most courageous. Telling your friends that you are ill is a small thing but it is something people find hard to do; what with all the social ramifications that one, surrounds illness and two, impinges on our social belief system that different is bad.
It’s scary that those two ideas are already manifest in a seven year old. I understand The Boy doesn’t want to be different from anyone else, nor seem to be weaker than his peers in any way. He just wants to fit in and get on with life.
But life has dealt him an odd hand. He has epilepsy. Not the Grand Mal where you collapse but Petit Mal or Absence Seizures. I am not sure whether having Absence Seizures is a blessing or a curse. It could be considered a blessing in that it is easily hidden but it could also be counted a curse because it is so disguised no one actually believes that he has a problem.
The Boy’s life is a record that is always jumping, and I really mean that. For a short period of time at any point in the day and mostly several times in an hour he “blanks” for a few seconds. During this time he sort of goes away, I am not sure where, and then he comes back and carries on exactly where he left off. You wouldn’t think a few seconds would matter but I have found that there is a whole lifetime missing in those seconds. Think about it a second is a long time, it could mean life or death or why else would we talk of split seconds?
The funny thing is, with Absence Seizures is that he can carry on doing things even though he is not ‘there’, for instance, he can carry on walking, even though he doesn’t know it. Can you imagine one moment you are just leaving your classroom and the next you are six foot away from the door down the corridor? It’s not much I grant you but it would be pretty disconcerting. Or say you are telling a joke and you are about to hit the punch line and then everyone is looking at you frustratedly and you know you’ve lost your audience in that split second, or at least what you thought was a split second. Then you could be walking to your table in the school dining room with your tray and suddenly all your food is on the floor and you don’t know why.
What amazes me is that The Boy is able to cover these lapses and no one seems to think any the worse of him. It’s just the Boy. His jokes are lame, he’s clumsy, and he’s in a world of his own.
But there are times he cannot cover, these are the times when he blanks and he wets himself. Just because one part of him is not there doesn’t mean the rest of him will wait. So he stands there and does nothing while he empties his bladder.
He stands there while people shout at him and get cross or laugh at him. One moment normal; the next different and marked.
Today The Boy is going to tell his classmates why he is as he is, he’s going to open himself up to everything he fears because if he doesn’t then worse could happen. He has worked out that he has to tell people even though he will from then on be different because that is the only way he can be accepted. He has to make the moves, he has to anticipate the mood of the community he is in and he has to get them on side, and quickly. Of course he knows there will be some who will make an issue of it but hopefully his friends will show their true colours and he will not be alone.
I am not sure I could be that brave…
If you'd like to know more about Epilepsy and in particular Absence Seizures check out these links: