The day started out great. Vernon was happy to see me when I got to dialysis. He even complimented my feet when I walked away to ask a question and came back. “You’ve got beautiful feet.” I was wearing heeled sandals, so maybe he actually meant he liked my shoes.
I laughed. “Really? My feet are one of my least favorite parts about myself.”
“I think they are so beautiful.”
“Vernon, you are so sweet. You always make me feel so loved. You even like the parts of me that I don’t like.”
“I do love you.”
“I know you do. Thank you.”
It’s amazing how love is still there. And his ability to express it. This reminds me of a story from the early days of our relationship. I’ve always fought against this strong cowlick on my forehead. I’ve long hated the thing, blaming it for too many bad hair days. One night over dinner out, he noticed the hair sticking up funny and commented how cute he thought it was. Again, I said: “Really? You are crazy!” But inside I remember thinking, “I will marry this man. He loves the parts of me I hate.” (This is just one example, by the way. It happened with other things too.)
The morning continued well. We were able to sneak a call in to his sister Vanessa in the UK. It was short, but sweet…and the first time he’d been able to connect by phone. All the complications around him have made it hard to plan for such things. He also enjoyed looking through his Facebook photo album. “I love my photos,” he said. “We really should have more pictures taken.” We reminded him that he used to hate having his photos taken. No matter, appreciates them now!
It was almost time to be taken off the machine. The ambulance was waiting for him and the nurse-technician started to disconnect the tubes; this is usually the part he looks forward to—being done. But he rolled away from her as if he didn’t want her touching him. His expression changed, the rolled whites of his eyes glaring under his brow. I thought he was making a weird joke or had a sudden mood swing. “Vernon, come on. Work with us, please. It’s almost time to go… Vernon? Vernon!”
His body had gone stiff and his skin lost its color. It was about a minute and a half before he started fluttering his eyes a little and his breathing returned to normal. It had clearly been a seizure, and none of us had seen this with him before, though he has had moments of random “brain freeze” but not for some time now. And this was more significant.
He seemed very tired after that, returned to a sweet and passive version of himself. I asked him what he thought had happened and he mentioned something about a dream. He only makes sense some of the time anyway. I called Mesa Verde for advice. They told me it would be best for the ambulance to take him to ER instead of straight home. I felt torn because I had company coming and also had to get back to the kids. I’d just spent last Sunday afternoon in the ER with him, but I can’t go every single time. And it’s not always necessary for me to be there. This is just the sort of thing that happens before I go away. I’m going anyway.
I might have panicked had it lasted longer, but I remember watching his seizure, part of me trying to help and part of me thinking: “Maybe that was it. Maybe our conversation today was the last good one I’ll ever have with him. I hope I don’t forget it.” Lately, I have been thinking that way whenever there is a dip. Maybe its a coping mechanism. But we never know. It might be the truth.
I called the ER when I got home. I asked for Vernon Adams and someone gave him the room phone. Vernon was great: “Hi, Gorgeous! How are you?”
I told him I needed a doctor or a nurse, was there someone there? He kept putting the phone down and calling out into the hallway. “Hi. My wife needs a nurse or a doctor!” Then he’d return. I found it so funny. I finally reached my husband by phone and its not him I wanted to talk to. Why is the humor found in the medical world basically the best ever? Justine and I found this conversation (it was on speaker) too funny. We were both cracking up. Then he’d come back on and it would start all over again.
So I was in a pretty good mood by the time the doctor took the line. He told me Vernon had a CT scan and a neurologist had looked at him. They could put him on a small amount of anti-seizure medication if I approved, but there really wasn’t any sign that he was in immediate danger. We figured it was probably just a side effect of his brain injury. In fact, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of these…over a year ago, a neurologist had told me to expect some seizure activity. I told the doctor I’d rather make an office appointment soon and discuss medication, but for now, could we just skip the meds. We are already figuring out the balance of his recent anti depressants. I really don’t want to add another chemical complication if possible. I could be wrong, but I thought I heard a sigh of relief on the other end of the line. I had told him my reasoning, and the doctor agreed with me.
That was yesterday. This morning, I got a call that he had been vomiting pretty badly this morning. I took the kids up anyway. He was fine for us while we took him into the sunshine for a bit. Maki played guitar, which seemed to relax him immediately. And he was very affectionate toward Justine, who absolutely let him. We were on route to LA, so we didn’t stay as long as usual. In the end, it was good because Vernon started feeling nauseous again. The head nurse told me it was probably his body still responding to the seizure, not a sign of the flu or another infection.
But we did manage to get a photo in. Perhaps Vernon (or the kids!) will be thankful for it later.