Seizure and Search Part One. A Special Needs Child

Each time she has a seizure I remember.

Our family life had ramped up to include four more children. Four plus four. Eight was enough then. Lisien, the youngest of the new sibling group, has a seizure disorder along with complications of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. All four had F.A.S. but Lisien displayed her deficiencies. Her body, thin as a toothpick could barely keep her britches on…even with a belt. When she smiled, a mouth full of teeth jutted out and shone like a search light. She was born with no corpus colosum, the part of the brain which connects the two halves. Hydrocephalus required a shunt to be inserted from her brain to her abdomen to drain the excess fluid. She had special needs indeed, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

My wife Barbara and our “Original Recipe” (Our biological children) were out at a movie for some respite (A new and often used word since we began the journey of foster care and eventually adoption). I was at the helm with the four foster children and Lisien lapsed into a seizure. A big one. They call them Grand Mals. I tried to contact Barbara but the movie had begun, so no answer there. I considered an ambulance as her rigid body took over, her arms and hands glued to her chest, her pupils rolled back into her sockets.

I couldn’t wait for an ambulance, so I called the neighbor and she willingly watched the other three as I scooped up Lisien’s stiff lump of a body. She was a light weight, but I experienced for the first time “dead weight” as her limbs were autonomous from her torso and her head hung without the support of the crook of my elbow. I laid her in the back seat and adjusted my mirror so I could keep an eye on her. I talked calmly to her to assure her (and me) she was going to be okay.

The medical staff immediately took her back to a room when we arrived. The relief I felt gave way to fear…she might not make it. She had been seizing for a good twenty minutes and helplessness set in. The staff asked me some questions and immediately gave her a shot and started an I.V. The doctor kept increasing the dosage until her brain started to calm down and her body followed suit. The doctors ended up transferring her to a bigger hospital. Barbara caught up with us and we stayed with her overnight.

The next morning I could see our church’s steeple from the hospital room. It was Sunday morning and Barbara encouraged me to make it to the service. I freshened up as best I could, which was acceptable for this casual church community.

I walked in and stood next to a friend. Most everyone stood for the worship set. The songs melded into one another as I stood blank faced and unmoved. I was dry like a cotton ball. It wasn’t just the events of the previous night, but a series of busy days and weeks of working, giving, and finally giving out. My heart wondered why I couldn’t shed a tear for a little helpless girl we had taken in. Wasn’t God’s heart bent in a unique way for one such as Lisien? Had I lost heart? Lost faith? The vision of our calling became out of focus, for me anyway. With my calling tested, I felt like I didn’t study hard enough and was destined for a failing grade.

To be continued…

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