|At the osteopath's office
The biggest spider that I have perhaps ever seen spun an enormous web that spanned about a quarter of the width of my backyard, and every morning I stood on the stoop outside my bedroom and looked at it, glinting in the sun. She sat in the middle of the web, waiting, I guess, for any errant creature to be ensnared. When I walked up to her, she sat there still, still waiting, and when I lay my finger on one of the anchor threads, she skittered up the vast and intricate highway and onto a cable that stretches the length of the backyard. This morning I stood on the stoop to see her, but she was gone and the web only a tattered thing, threads hanging.
This morning I struggled with Sophie or, rather, struggled with my despair as Sophie struggled with her seizures. It's been twenty-one years since it all started and nearly three weeks since Sophie's last hospitalization, and while her seizures are fewer and consigned to the early hours of the morning from, let's say, 4:00 am until 7:00 am when they come, one after the other, in her sleep, her days are spent very drowsy -- let's say totally drugged -- and she's unable to go to school. She is weak. She is on one drug -- a pretty massive dose, compared to where she was -- and CBD. I don't have any answers to the questions, so stop asking why? what do you think? what do They say? I don't know. I think nothing. They have no fucking idea.
I'm a giant spider, sitting in the middle of an intricate web that I've built over two decades. I'm waiting for an answer.
Here's what They did:
Sophie isn't having a lot of seizures, except for those few in the early hours of the morning (that reduce me to a raving lunatic, especially when I find her soaked in her bed and must strip it and her, even as she seizes) because she is drugged with Onfi, a powerful and dreadful benzodiazepine. She was, basically, ripped off of Vimpat, an anticonvulsant that she'd been on for over eight years (a small amount in the end, but a small amount of an AED is still an amount that the brain is accustomed to accommodating), but only after being infused with a giant dose of Vimpat (despite my misgivings about it causing hives) that was followed by giant hives covering her entire torso. Later, in consultation with a dermatologist, the three neurologists attending decided that the Vimpat and the hives were coincidental but, curiously, on the discharge papers the drug was listed under ALLERGIES. She was hooked up to an EEG for over six days, had copious blood work, lung x-rays and urinalysis, was declared normal on entry and three days after had a urinary tract infection that called for an antibiotic (the only time she has been on an antibiotic in the last fifteen years was last spring when she had her wisdom teeth out). One neurologist suggested the drug FYCOMPA as an option to replace the Vimpat, but I pointed out that it was known to cause homicidal ideation, and The Neurologist agreed that he'd seen pretty serious behavioral issues with it. I'm not going to make any jokes here, so just go back and read those italicized words, Reader, and come to your own conclusions. I'd love it, too, if you read this post from over a year ago.
Remember that I don't have any answers. I'm a spider who's been spinning a web for years and I'm now waiting. The other option via the Great Minds of Neurology was, of course, to ramp up the Onfi and work with CBD (remember that CBD and Onfi together show promise in seizure control), so just like some game contestant, I picked that door and took Sophie home, drugged out of her mind on a nasty benzo and an antibiotic. We had absolutely no resolution to the problems that brought us to the hospital in the first place, although I guess there's some comfort in knowing that Sophie is now officially off Vimpat. They (the Powers That Be/Neurologists) have no idea about the CBD and how and if it'll work. If you remember, THE PARTY LINE is not to pay any attention to CBD other than to give a few winks as a sign of tolerance, at least until the big pharmaceutical trials do their slow slog of research. This is because the federal government still has marijuana listed as a Schedule 1 substance, along with heroin and cocaine, and has determined that it has no medicinal value and therefore no public entity can study it. Sophie had nearly two and a half years with dramatic success on CBD, and at no time during that period did any neurologist express any interest -- real scientific interest -- in that success. So we're sent home, basically, on our own, to figure things out.
Fortunately, I have Dr. Bonni Goldstein to help me figure things out. We're trying a new strain of CBD, along with THC, this week, and I'm hoping that I can reduce the Onfi at least enough that Sophie can live. Yes, I said live, because what she's doing now is not fully living. She is drugged. I took her to the osteopath this morning, and she lay on the table under Dr. Johnson's gentle hands and actually opened her eyes and smiled at the doctor. It was the first time she'd smiled in weeks, and I know she felt some kind of release. I was sitting on the edge of the table, my hand over her legs, and I couldn't stop crying, so Dr. Johnson stood up and brought me a tissue, told me that it was all right to cry. All will be well, she told Sophie, all will be well.
This is as long of a post as that spider and her web were big. I was going to spin into commentary on Drumpf and the article I read here about his nephew who had infantile spasms, the same diagnosis as Sophie's back on that dark day in June of 1995. I was going to rail about health insurance, how premiums are going up not entirely because of the Affordable Care Act (as the conservatives say) but because our for-profit health insurance industry is utterly dysfunctional. This is my web, my rant and yes, it all goes together. Watching Sophie seize, Drumpf's nephew's infantile spasms, the removal of his healthcare coverage, the expendability of the disabled in our culture, my own fatigue and burn-out despite a wealth of support, pharmaceuticals, party lines, obtuse neurologists stuck in boxes, friends and family who just don't get it, Sophie's seizures, and I'm skittering away, my web tattered.
Here's what we need:
- The federal government needs to deschedule marijuana
- Pump money into researching its use as medicine
- Keep Big Pharma out of it by fostering equal partnerships between patients, farmers, interested parties and researchers
- Expand the Affordable Care Act into universal health coverage
- Vote for Hillary Clinton for President and hold her accountable
- Kick Donald Trump and every single racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic person who votes for and supports him out of the country and into exile on Guantanamo or one of those for-profit prisons filled with generations of black men who were thrown into them for possession of marijuana during the fake Drug Wars.