I am just sitting down to write about what happened to our little guy this past Saturday. To be able to put it on paper makes my hands quiver at the keyboard and my eyes fill with tears. To write about what has been replaying in my head is like trying to write about a clip from the “Matrix” – seeing and experiencing something that happened so fast, but also so slow at the same time. Only this time it was not the Matrix. It was my son. Having what we think was a seizure.
I have never felt so helpless. I truly thought I was losing my little boy. Not in the way that I usually lose him when he does not respond to his name, but losing him. I thought he was dying. The horror of that word – it frightens me so that I cannot look back at the word that I just wrote. I sit on the couch, I pull at my hair and feel the heaviness in my stomach and tears sting my eyes. The thought of losing my little Dawson. To type it on a piece of paper, to put it on my blog, makes it so real, but it was real. It was terrifying. In those split seconds – those minutes – my little boy was gone and I felt every ounce of his stillness in the depths of my soul.
It happened at the kitchen table. Dawson had already been up and had his usual sippy cup of soy milk. He had jumped on the trampoline. We were in our slow-go groove on a Saturday morning on the home front. My hair was sticking straight up on my head. My husband had done his morning check on the computer. Mae Mae was making her usual request for Special K.
Then it happened. A moment that will be forever stained in my head, like Georgia red clayon a pair of khaki pants. That clay will always be a part of that piece of clothing. That moment with Dawson will always be part of my being. As I puttered around in the kitchen, I heard my husband say, “Dawson, you need to sit up.” This is not an unusual request to make to Dawson. He has low muscle tone and flops around on his chair like there is bacon grease on it – sliding this way and that way. I heard my husband make the request again, “Dawson, you need to sit up buddy.” I walked toward Dawson to help him with his ever-moving body. I can still feel the steps as I moved toward him. His head was almost at the floor. Something was not right. Oh my God, he was not moving. I screamed, “Dave, he is not breathing. Oh, my God. He is choking.” My little boy’s beautiful blue eyes were nowhere to be found. They were rolled back in his head. I yanked him out of the chair and Dave was beside me, telling me “He cannot be choking. He cannot be choking. He has not eaten anything.” I screamed back, “Yes, he is choking. He is not breathing.” We lifted his lifeless body in our arms, trying to do the Heimlich on his sweet body that was not choking. We were holding him in our arms, screaming, “Dawson, Dawson!” My husband looked at me. In those moments we were helpless. I heard my Mae Mae’s voice, “Mommy, what is wrong with Dawson? Mommy, why is the toast burning? Mommy what is wrong?” I did not answer. I couldn’t.
Seconds. Minutes. I do not know how long is lasted. It felt like hours. But then there was a breath. It was like I was hearing him cry for the first time when he came from my belly. I knew he was alive.
We carried him to his bedroom. He was pale, so very so pale, and his skin was so wet. He was whimpering in his daddy’s arms. My husband was whispering to Dawson, “It is okay. You are okay.” I was not convinced that he was okay. I thought maybe he’d had an asthma attack. I ran to my purse to get his Albuterol. My Mae was still sitting at the kitchen table, “Mommy, what is wrong with Dawson? Mommy, Mommy…” I snapped at her, “Mae Mae, your daddy and I have to take care of your brother. We have to take care of him now.” I ran back to Dawson’s room with his inhaler. My Mae Mae was alone in the kitchen. Who was taking care of her?
Dawson was still in his daddy’s arms when I got to his room. He was breathing but looked so exhausted and so confused. I gave my little guy his Albuterol even as my husband tried to convince me that Dawson did not have an asthma attack and that Dawson could not have been choking because there was no food in front of him at the table. Then what happened? What just happened to my sweet baby boy?
I headed back to the kitchen to get the phone to call the doctor. There was my sweet Mae Mae sitting in the same chair, knees to her chest, arms wrapped around her little princess pajamas. Oh, my Mae Mae. What have I done? I walked over to her with tears in my eyes. I know that little girl. I have been that little girl – so afraid, so scared. Being left alone in a room while her brother was in distress. I know her pain. I caused her pain. She needed me as much as Dawson did in this crisis and I left her sitting by herself. I had snapped at her. Oh, my Mae Mae I am so sorry.
I walked over to her and she looked at me and I said, “Sweetie, that was really scary wasn’t it?” This time she was the one who breathed. The tears came flowing down her cheeks and she sobbed, “Yes.” I brought her to my chest and felt her warm tears on my cheek. I was crying too. She held me tightly. “Oh, sweetie. I am so sorry sorry. I am just so sorry. I am here. I know it was scary. I am so sorry.” She cried. I held her tightly. I touched her head, “I am so sorry I left you. I am just so so sorry.” She lifted her head from my chest. Her hair stuck to her face from her tears. “Mommy, what is wrong with Dawson?” I looked at her, “Sweetie, I don’t know. I just don’t know.” “Can I go see Dawson?” I take her hand, “Yes sweetie, you can see Dawson.” We walked to Dawson’s room. My little guy was still curled up in my husband’s lap. Mae Mae walked over to Dawson and touched his leg, “Buddy, it is going to be okay.”
I looked at Dave. We were numb. I left the room to call the doctor’s office. As I dialed, I thought, “Could it have been? No. Please Lord, no. Not a seizure.” I have read the statistics. I know that children with autism are more likely to have seizures. My brother, who is no longer living, had epilepsy. I remember it like it was yesterday – his seizing and my parents having to take him to the emergency room because they could not get the seizures to stop.
I had hidden the thought of my son ever having a seizure far away. I had hidden it so well that I had convinced myself that it was just never going to come out, that a seizure would never happen. Well, like all games of hide-and-seek, the game does have to end. Whoever or whatever is hiding does have to come out.
I do think that my son did have a seizure four days ago on that ever-so-typical Saturday morning at our house. We have talked to several doctors and we will move forward with testing for him – EEG, MRI, overnight stay at the hospital. This will all have to be done. We will use every tool that we have to help him, and we will hold his hand and hug him tight.
We’ll also talk with Mae Mae. We won’t leave her alone. We’ll wrap her up and be present with her.
As for me, I’ll hold my husband’s hand, and choosing a hot cocoa and long walks when I am stressed. That is what I will have to do.
And I will write. I will share. I will allow others to hold us, to help us. That is what we must do. I will take that breath. We will all take a breath and breathe as a family. I feel a hand on my shoulder. It is not Mae Mae, but someone I know who I cannot see. I feel their presence. This time, they whisper to me, “Cheairs, it is going to be okay.”
Copyright © cheairs graves May 11, 2011