And Therein, As The Bard Would Tell Us, Lies The Rub*

I had a Grand Mal Seizure (tonic-clonic) last week. Apparently 10% of people will have one in their lifetime. My neurologist was explaining this to me last week and flippantly commented, “So if there are ten people out in that waiting room, one of them will have a seizure.” My wife, not missing a beat, said, “So as long as Scott is in the room we should be ok.” I love her.

The seizure took place at the medical clinic where I work. I have been told that I smashed my head against the wall, tried to bite my good friend and doctor, attempted to spinning back-kick another doctor, developed a case of Turrets, and basically held the medical office hostage. There is some speculation that I stopped breathing at one point. I woke up on a gurney, then in the ambulance, than at the hospital. I have significant short-term memory loss and have no remembrance of the situation. Weird.

Every so often we are reminded that we are not immortal. A little over a year ago I had a major traffic accident on a prairie road in the middle of nowhere. Other than some broken ribs, I walked away unharmed. After that accident I spent some time reflecting on the fact that my life was spared because I turned left (into oncoming traffic) instead of the logical choice, right. I spent a few months practicing the techniques I teach others, and was able to glean some healthy insights.

People have asked me since if I learned anything from these experiences. I have. Coming out of the hospital, after two days in the overflow wing that I shared with three female senior citizens I learned that old women really snore, and do vile things to a bathroom if left unattended. I also learned that I have been taking time for granted and have become lazy. When I am tired it is far easier to watch television than do something productive. It is tempting to waste my life on things that don’t matter. I am a driven person, but can truly be lazy between dreams. The older I grow the easier it is to sit around, skip my martial arts classes, and sit around with a remote control in my hands. Because I have a bad knee it is a simple thing to find a pseudo-sensible reason for my lethargy. And the clock continues to tick.

These are lessons one would expect to learn from any near-death or feels-near-death experience. The world is replete with stories about how the accident survivor felt they had a fresh start, a new chance and opportunity. This is, it would seem, a natural and hopeful response to these things. What I didn’t expect was to lose my short-term memory. I didn’t expect to forget where I lived, where my son’s bedroom was, how to put a key in the lock, and virtually all the meaningful experiences I have had in the recent past. I cannot remember Thanksgiving three weeks ago. Apparently we went out to the lake the next day for a picnic. I could not remember how to check my email, how to Skype, how to do case notes at work. I had no idea how to edit this blog. I actually phoned Godaddy and had them walk me through it. The first morning back at work I had four clients I apparently knew well but could not, for the life of me, remember their names.

It all started when I woke up in the ambulance. I felt normal, clear, and wondered why I was so vigorously strapped to the gurney. They asked me the normal questions – name, address, did I know what happened… I got the first one right. I knew my name, why would you ask me something like that? My address, what is my address? Something felt wrong. It was as if I had a space in my head where my address was supposed to fit. It is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it.

I am back at work today. It only took me thirty seconds to remember which key opened the front door. I watched my wife drive away (my license is suspended for thirty days) and then nonchalantly stood by the door. And the clock continued to click. It eventually came to me, all of a sudden, that it was the weird flower key that stuck out like a sore thumb. I got my inner office door opened in only two tries.

This is very frustrating. I still remember what I have learned, still can engage clients in counseling. In some ways I am more in tune with counseling than I ever have been. I feel like I am at the top of my game, until you hand me keys. I will not remember certain details, and will not know I do not know.

This is very hard on my ego. I get paid to be smart, to be present, insightful, intuitive, engaging. If i let myself dwell on this, it will be easy to become anxious, or depressed, and begin to panic. And therein, as the bard would tell us, lies the rub.*

I teach people everyday to control their emotions before they become controlled. I am an evangelist for CBT, REBT, DBT, psychoanalysis, etc. I believe with my whole heart that this stuff works. Of course it is one thing for me to believe this works for other people.

It is another thing altogether to believe this works for me.

“Physician heal thyself.”

*stolen from “Inside Man“.

15 thoughts on “And Therein, As The Bard Would Tell Us, Lies The Rub*

  1. So sorry you have had to go through this Scott. It must be scary and frustrating, but we are all thinking about you and hope for a full recovery.

  2. Scott Blessings and Angel Whispers to you. I had no idea you were so ill. Just that the classes had been cancelled. Hang in there Guy. You have a lot of people praying and sending love, including myself. Life is a struggle. That is why so many of us need you to get well. Do what Doc tells you and as you say to us, one baby step at a time. Please do not rush yourself too much, give the noggin a little rehab time and love your family and friends and we should see you soon at the clinic, remember it takes time and even then the brain is the brain and derails sometimes, though hopefully not as much as the Grand Mal, the grandad of derailing, must look it up. Let us all know how you are progressing. With heartfeld care and concern, from one of your own people, Susan

  3. Wow, that really sounds like a profound and life-changing event. I can see how that would be deeply upsetting to you. It would be to me too.

    Please be patient and gentle with yourself, though. I’m sure you know how wonderfully regenerative the brain can be at any age, and given time, I suspect you will recover what you lost. In the meantime, try and enjoy the simple things as you can, and give yourself the time and energy to get better. Be your own patient! I wish you all the best, and send you much sympathy. 🙂

    1. Thanks Jennifer, although I suck at taking advice that I would willingly give to others I will blame you for my laziness (kidding), make myself a London Fog and eat the Milk duds my mother-in-law dropped off!

  4. Hi Scott, thanks for dropping by today.

    You are a brave and courageous man – admitting your struggles. I admire that greatly, and hope it will encourage others it’s ok for them, too. Society doesn’t really lend itsself to us admitting our challenges. Kudos to you!

  5. I wish there was a way for people to see how full and exhilarating life can be without them having to have a traumatic life altering experience. Life does go way too fast and the sky is the limit, but then we put so many extra limits on us that we just sit around as the clock is ticking… Time to learn to do a front flip! 🙂 I’m happy to hear your doing OK Scott.

  6. Glad you’re doing okay, hope your all the way better soon. It’s true isn’t it – how hard it is to listen to your own good advice. I think that’s why friends and community are so important.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s