August 11, 2001
August 11, 2001

Eleven days in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit.

And my primary fear was having a seizure and not knowing the date. Or who my husband, Murray, was. Or who I was. After my first seizure, I remembered everything, because it was my usual – a focal aware seizure, two-minutes long.

My second seizure was a different story. After 10 seconds, I passed out, and I entered a full tonic-clonic.

When I came to, it was “lights are on, but no one’s home.” My nurse asked me to raise my arms, which I did. I asked my husband, “What’s going on? Why is everyone standing around my bed?”

Then I feel into a deep sleep. And snored for about twenty minutes. My nurse woke me with: “Tammy, do you know what happened?”

Birthdays are only three weeks and three days apart...and three years.
Birthdays are only three weeks and three days apart…and three years.

And I said no. That second seizure was temporarily wiped from my memory. I was asked my birthday. I merged the dates of mine with my husband’s. Earlier, my husband and I decided on a hand signal, to prove I remembered him. In case I couldn’t say his name. Or if there was doubt I was alright. After my seizures, for the first few seconds, I can see words in my head, but can’t speak them.

And I could not remember the sign.

Today would have been my maternal grandparents’ 65th anniversary. My Baba once told me she noticed Murray did similar things as Gigi. For example, Murray strokes my face. And – like Gigi with Baba – since our first date, my husband’s opened the car door for me.

Baba once told me of the time she and Gigi were travelling and couldn’t find a hotel, and they were forced to sleep in their car. And as one slept in the front seat, the other in the back, they held hands. Semi-separated, they had to at least touch. And it’s the same with us. I can’t sleep unless my husband’s arms are around me.

After Baba died, whenever we’d visit Gigi, he’d tell Murray to take care of me, “because you only have one.”

March 31, 1951
March 31, 1951

Those eleven days in the EMU were a challenge. Emotionally. Physically. And mentally. Trust me, when your medications are being tapered off and a seizure is around the corner, you need your mind taken off what’s about to happen.

My husband and I played music trivia. Told stories. And we talked. We learned more about each other than I thought possible after almost fifteen years of marriage.

Every morning, my husband was at the hospital from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. , when my sitter entered the room. Yes, I had a night sitter. My husband would stay at his dad’s, go to bed by 1 a.m., wake up the next day and repeat. For eleven days, Murray was content to sit in a hospital chair and watch me sleep or write my book. He took silly photos of me with my unicorn or of me stretching.

In the EMU - March 30, 2016. When we found out, hooray, we're going home the next day!
In the EMU – March 30, 2016. When we found out, hooray, we’re going home the next day!

As we sit at home tonight, Murray said he has a new appreciation for me.

He expected anger or bitterness from me at the hospital.

Or at the very least, for me to snap at him. But instead, according to him, I joked all the way through, and he said my attitude was amazing. Murray even thinks the suggestions I made to my epileptologist will help the EMU in the long run.

I couldn’t have gone through this without my husband. He admitted the second seizure was difficult to watch. The room filled with nurses, and he was lost in the shuffle. When he was able, he leaned over me and squeezed my hand.

While I vaguely remember – I recognized the feeling of his left hand. And his wedding ring. And I squeezed back.

And that was a sign I remembered him.

And I was alright.
UPDATE: When I wrote this post, I meant every word. However, we separated November, 2017