Monday, January 21, 2013

Attention: Narcissistic Society

This weekend was a great weekend. I literally laid in bed most of the time relaxing, watching tv and taking naps. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! There was a little laundry done and the kids were fed three meals a day, so there was some productivity, but we kept it at a minimum. After lounging Saturday away, my husband suggested we go out to dinner. I'm not sure if it was out of boredom or just to motivate me to actually get dressed and fix my hair and makeup, still not sure, but it worked nonetheless. 

We decide to take advantage of a Christmas given gift card to Outback which is a little less than an hour drive away, but my favorite restaurant. I credit the fact that it is still my favorite place to the distance, because it's not too close to go to all the time, the drive seems to build more anticipation and makes the trek more of a night out rather than a quick place to grab a bite. We arrived a few minutes after 6 pm on a Saturday night and as we walk through the throng of waiting people, I understand and knew there will be a wait. The hostess tells me the wait is running a little over an hour and I put my name down. Now, I'm not one that goes out to dinner a lot on a Friday or Saturday night because as a person with a few brain cells in the gray matter in my skull, I realize that there will be a wait at a restaurant, on their busiest nights of the week, at the most common dinner time of the evening, apparently this is a little known fact. It was not the wait that upset me as the people in the wait. The narcissistic, rude, entitled people are what upset me and made me want to "bless out" a few people during the wait on behalf of the restaurant staff which was beyond hospitable to completely undeserving patrons.

The waiting area: 
I found an open place near the hostess stand to sit down, my daughters leaning against my lap and my husband stood nearby. Next to me, sat a man and a kid halfway laying down taking more that a butt's width of the bench, with the Mom of that household standing nearby. Now, I used to be pretty feminist, and I don't really know their situation, maybe the Mr. has a condition where he needed to be sitting down or his wife likes to stand for long periods of time, but I was proud to be the woman who's chivalrous husband thought enough of her to let her sit down. I look around and there are people standing everywhere, yet most of the benches were filled with older children and young teens playing on their phones and handheld games. I was taught as a child that adults get seats first, but apparently this was not widely taught. Enters pregnant woman. Not just "showing," but very, very pregnant woman. As a previously pregnant in my lifetime woman, I'm guessing that she was probably due in two weeks or two weeks ago. I look around to praise the person who gets up or makes their kid get up to allow Painfully Pregnant Woman a seat, but no one does. Not one person. I wait a minute just to make sure that no one is going to use this as a parenting moment to teach their child about courtesy or respect, but still, no one moves. I get up, I go over to a very tired Painfully Pregnant Woman and tell her "I've got a seat over there in the corner just for you." She gladly accepts, her face rewards me in overwhelming appreciation and I use the teaching moment for my children. I told them that it's always respectful to let pregnant women or the elderly sit down and that I would always expect them to offer their seat to someone else. Of course the irritated at society part of me raised my voice a little as I taught them, just in case anyone else wanted to know. People continue to walk in past the throng of us waiting and act surprised and rudely complain when the hostesses tell them that there is a wait. They act surprised like they didn't just walk past no less than fifty people. Do they think we are a flash mob that just goes in and out of restaurants waiting or do they think they are so better elevated in our society that they don't have to wait too? 

We are seated: 
As soon as we get to our table the head hostess is at our table telling us that we will be getting a free appetizer due to the extended wait. That's great I think, because we were going to get a Bloomin' Onion anyway and the kids were whining for some Loaded Cheese Aussie Fries. So I order our FREE Bloomin' Onion and a small order of Loaded Cheese Aussie Fries for the girls which I more than expect to pay for from our amazingly nice waitress who also apologized for our wait. She takes our order and goes to the next table to check on her other guests when I hear Rude Woman ask in a high horse tone "So, just so I'm clear, you do serve food here, right?" I look over to see Rude Woman said this while eating her FREE appetizer. At this point, I'm hoping Rude Woman chokes on her rude sarcasm or the FREE appetizer while being mean to an overly nice waitress. A waitress who could not control the wait, someone just doing her job, possibly supporting her family, the waitress who is waiting, serving and humbly being nice to Rude Woman who is being nothing but Rude. I want to defend our waitress, I want to give Rude Woman, yes that is her name, an evil glare, but it's not my place and I'm already getting the calm "no" look from my husband who knows my every thought. So instead, I say loudly to my kids "isn't this a nice night out? Isn't our waitress sweet?" Yes, in the same raised tone from the waiting area, again, just in case anyone else wanted to hear. Funny how on the waitress' next run to our section was the platter of food for Rude Woman's table. Rude Woman then sent back her meal because her chicken was just "too dry," asked for to-go boxes and then went to the hostess station to ask for boxes again before our waitress could even get back to the kitchen again. Then Rude Woman complains to the manager, manager gives her gift cards for her inconvenience and Rude Woman finally leaves. In my defense, I'm not eavesdropping, Rude Woman is loud with all of her complaints due to her superiority to society. 

After Rude Woman leaves, we get our check, which is wrong. The Bloomin' Onion is FREE, but the Loaded Aussie Fries have been discounted to FREE too, we should have been charged for this. I tell the waitress, so she can correct the error, but she tells me there is no error, they're FREE too. They are FREE because of our wait, the wait we never complained about. Outback Rocks! I got a night out, waiting time to spend more moments with my family, parenting lessons to teach to my kids, two FREE appetizers and I'm using my Christmas gift card. I have nothing to complain about, well besides one thing...our society.

In this case, Rude Woman was one person, but she represents our society as a whole. Our impatient, narcissistic, rude, condescending, completely disrespectful of everyone but themselves and entitled society. Why does our society think they can treat waitresses, waiters, hostesses or anyone else in the service industry so rude, because they work in service? That does not mean they are less than, it means that they choose to work for a living, just like you, but in a different capacity. It means that they choose to bite their tongue a lot as they serve less than deserving people like Rude Woman to support themselves and their families. No matter what a person does for a living, they deserve respect, but we can't even teach our children what respect is when we allow our kids to take up waiting benches when a pregnant woman or an elderly person enters a waiting area. Our society is what it is because somewhere along the way we quit teaching what respect means, what is looks like and how to show it. Pin it, post it, do what's necessary to remind yourself to use it and if you're a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent or mentor is some way, love our children enough to TEACH it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Self Defense

Identifying the Enemy
You can look into a crowd and not see a face, only the crowd. But once you are shown a face, you can easily spot it, much like a “Where’s Waldo” book. I don’t know if I’m having more seizures or just that I'm more aware of them, now that I know their identity. Thankfully, I don’t have the “fall on the floor and pee yourself” type seizures. My heart goes out to those that do and I am sure I have just violated an Epilepsy Code rule by calling it as such, but my seizures are not the grand mal type. What I have are partial onset focal seizures. I have pulsating, muscle spasm sensations in most commonly my eye, eyelid, or lip, crawling and tingling through my head and scalp multiple times a day. These episodes are followed by tiredness and sometimes nausea and the desire to cry. My seizures are such that besides the imbalanced lean into the wall and the occasional falls, you wouldn’t even know I’m having one knew. No one at work knew I was having seizures at my desk, my family did not know I was having them throughout our Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, no one knew besides my husband and myself. My seizures are such that I can keep them a secret and not tell anyone I’m having them until a worse for wear one causes me to have an emotional “come out” tear fest at work and I go home to bed for the day. I could keep them a secret until the secret seemed to feel too heavy to bear and exploded out of me.

My Ammunition
My doctor tripled my dosage during my last appointment. The increase has me tired, but I’m adjusting, I will continue to adjust. I think the medicine is working, I think the seizures are lessening, but it’s like the face in the crowd and I don’t know how many faces were there before I learned to identify the enemy. Now that I can identify the enemy, I know when it’s there.

Setting My Sights
I’m learning that stress triggers seizure activity. I’m learning that I apparently fail miserably at handling stress, though I thought I was managing it. I'm learning that tiredness triggers seizure activity. I’m learning that if you don’t slow down, your body will make you slow down. I’m learning that I need to take a moment, many times a day, and that’s okay. I’m learning to turn off my phone and I don't have to live others' schedules. I’m learning to go to bed early when I need to and sleep longer on the weekends. I’m learning that one of the hardest things for a driven overachiever is realizing your limitations, accepting them and making lifestyle adjustments to adhere to those limitations. I’m learning and I will continue to learn with each step of this journey.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Catching Balance

I start my doctor’s orders: anti-seizure medication, physical therapy and slowing down. The first few weeks of medicine were rough and riddled with more headaches than I normally have, tiredness and possible mood swings? I’m not sure if the mood swings were the medicine or my roller coaster of emotions about my diagnosis, what it meant and what the future would hold. Upset because I was not in control of what was happening, anger at the loss of control and the fact that I would be on medication from now on, fear at how this would progress and grieving what I felt was a loss of my independence. Physical therapy was well, physical therapy. Two to three hours of another appointment in my already full schedule. Juggling my lunch breaks for physical therapy appointments so as not to miss work or use sick pay, feeling guilty all the while and mad again at the theft of my time. The therapy did help, to a point, but the dizziness and imbalance are still there. I have some days that are dizzier than others where I feel like a top wobbling around at the end of its turning. I learned to sit down, wait, lie down, rest or recalibrate myself. I constantly “lean” into walls when I walk, but it’s been a long time since my last fall. I attribute part of this to my learning to slow down my previously fast paced self. I walk slower, use hand rails, constantly look at the steps I take and when walking alongside my husband… I hold his hand. I think that’s probably the best part of all of this. I learned to hold his hand, to let him help me, to realize and accept that I am not in this alone. He’s always there, always has been. I used to be very stubborn with my independence, but I find comfort in reaching for him and having my hand in his…I think he likes it too.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I started falling over a year ago. Cursor blinking as I type “I started falling over a year ago” it sounds like a chapter heading or the first sentence of a love story, but this is not my love story, this is the first sentence of my story of living with seizures, living my new normal of epilepsy and all it entails. So as stated, I started falling. Not a blissful fall into flowers in a meadow or bedding or on the trampoline with my kids, but falling into walls onto sidewalks, curbs, gravel and the all-too-often asphalt of parking lots. The first time or two I chalked it off to clumsiness and would be the first person to tell on myself for doing so and laughing it off. The thing about falling is not that it can be embarrassing and hurt your ego, but falling hurts. Falling causes bruises. Falling causes scrapes and cuts and pain.  Falling or tripping every now and then can happen, but my falls had progressed to a point of every couple weeks. Just as one bruise or scrape would heal to a point of disappearing, another fall would create another wound to replace it. Laughing it off was no longer possible as I pushed back the pain to hold my tears, as I pretended that I was okay. As the falls kept happening, my laughing turned to fear, tears and wonderment of what was causing what I knew was not clumsiness.
My last fall was my breaking point. I fell on a sidewalk in front of family and friends. Immediately my husband was asking me if I was okay as my children waited for my reply too. Once again, I said I was okay, but my hands burned as breaking my fall had skid the skin on my palms and I knew my foot was scraped again. I got into the car and as we sat later in the booth of a fast food restaurant, I recoiled in my thoughts, replayed every fall I had encountered and knew that this was not clumsiness, this was wrong. A few days later I told my chiropractor that I had fallen again and he referred me to a neurologist. The neurologist ordered the normal workup for someone having balance issues: MRI and EEG with what is apparently the normal waiting time for any test that can tell you if you have something wrong with your brain, 2 weeks and another 2 weeks to wait for your result appointment. A month after my initial appointment, I sit across from my neurologist in his stereotypical monotone voice and listen as he tells me that my MRI was normal, but my EEG is abnormal. He goes onto say the EEG reading shows an “underlying seizure disorder” and basically it’s these misfirings, these mini seizures that are causing my balance issues and the falls while I am walking. I will have to slow down, start anti-seizure medications and try some physical therapy to see if it will help my balance issues. I leave his office with medication samples, a prescription, my EEG report and a phrase that will not escape my thoughts “underlying seizure disorder.”
I go to work, go about my day with “underlying seizure disorder” repeating in my head…and then the questions come: Will this progress? What if I’m driving? What if I’m alone? What if I’m alone with my kids? What IF…what IF…what IF? It’s amazing how big of a word “if” really is. Amazing how we can let it take over a situation. What if I turn it around? What if I start the protocol my doctor gave me? What if I start the medicine, go to therapy? What if I take it step-by-step?