Saturday, June 13, 2015

On life being short or whatever.

In November of 2013 Jesse had a seizure while we were out running on the trails. I never wrote about it, and I wish that I had. Yesterday it happened again, and now I'm writing about it.

We went on the Kachina trail. I just recently played around on this trail and loved it, and I knew Jesse would too. Kachina starts up at Snowbowl and goes at least 5 miles to Weatherford (and I think beyond that?). I'm falling in love with this trail because it's not only up high but also very runnable. For the first mile or so it's very nice - little rollers with a couple of passes through small aspen meadows. It comes to some small outlooks with nice big boulders, and when we got to this part we ran in to four ladies (to be known later) having lunch/taking a break. The trail drops down a bit and becomes more technical with boulders to navigate between/on/around. I asked Jesse to lead because when he leads we go faster, and me trying to keep up improves my running. We went a little over a half of a mile until he stopped and said he wasn't feeling well. This never happens. I always wimp out on a run before Jesse does, even if he's not feeling that great. I'm always the first to be like "Ugh, I need a minute." or "Fuck, I need to walk this". He sat down and I made a joke with "'Tis the weather for a seizure". I now regret saying this.

And no, I didn't have my phone. I usually don't run with it when we are both together. 

The weather is always the same when it happens or there are symptoms. It's usually dreary, humid, and a bit cold. That's what it was like up in the peaks at 11:30am yesterday. The clouds were low, it was humid but comfortably chilly running weather. 

The left side of his body twitched twice before moving into full-blown convulsions. This is different from last time, as last time it began with him standing up. I was also not terrified for his life at this point, because I've been through this before and I knew it would be okay. I tried to hold him and kept saying things like "It's okay," and "I'm here, I'm right here". Last time he stayed on the ground until he regained somewhat of a consciousness, and this time it was different. 

He tried to stand up immediately, and fought me when I tried to keep him on the ground. It's not like Jesse is a huge person, but he has a solid 30 pounds on me and is much stronger, and I lost that battle. He was trying to speak to me but it was so slurred and mumbled because his motor skills and brain just weren't there yet, but when he started to form words it was a different Jesse than I have ever seen. His voice was different, for starters. He literally did not sound like himself. He was also severely panicked. He kept saying we had to leave, we had to go, and we had to go now. As tears streamed down my face I tried to get him to sit down and he would not. From the second he started convulsing, I started shrieking for help. I screamed as loud and as long as I could, hoping that those four ladies would hear me. I still do not understand how they couldn't. In his panicked state, Jesse covered my mouth several times as I tried to scream for help. As we stood there, me fighting to get him to stop and him fighting me to start walking, he kept tipping back towards the side of the trail that drops off. I grabbed him aggressively every time and he would try to correct his balance. I had no choice but to start walking with him. I held both of his hands and stayed on his left side, placing myself between him and the steep drop-off side of the trail. All it would have taken was one little misstep and I think he would have been dead. He would have fallen and not been able to stop himself. I asked him his birthday, and he didn't know. I told him I couldn't wait to be back in Michigan in a few weeks and he asked me what I was talking about, and why I was going there. He soon began to think that I was injured - that we were walking like this because of me. He started to say things like "It's okay you just have to push through and we'll be back at the car soon," and "You can do it just stay focused". So I went along with this and started to say that I needed breaks, that I needed to sit down. When we would sit down, he would sit for almost 10 seconds and stand back up, wobbling, saying "Okay so do you think you're okay now? Can we go now?" And every time he would jolt backwards or start to fall I would support him with everything I had and scream for help as loud as I possibly could and started to sob. When I would try to make eye contact with him nothing really happened. It was like he was just looking at my eyes and not connecting. He just wasn't there yet. Everything that was happening was completely out of character for Jesse. If I was feeling that shitty on a run (which has happened), the last thing he would do is try to push me to get going. He is always patient. 

Several times he stopped and told me not to cry and that we would be back soon. The one thing I just cannot stress enough is his voice. It didn't sound like him and it was constantly rushed. Every word that he was saying was so fast and said with such urgency that nothing I could do would calm him down. He kept second-guessing me, telling me that we needed to turn around and go back to the car. Every time I told him "This is the way back to the car," and he would ask me how I knew that. It was the longest half mile of my life, and all I kept thinking about was those women that were stopped and hoping they were still there. I would give anything if they were still there. As we climbed up some boulders I saw Nice Lady #1, #2, #3 and #4. I immediately collapsed into tears and said "You need to help me. This is my boyfriend and he had a seizure and he doesn't know what's going on and he won't listen to me."

It was here that Jesse started to come back. Maybe it was me fully breaking down that pulled him back, or maybe it had just finally been long enough since the episode. Two of the women were nurses, which is always immediately comforting. They had plenty of water and food. Jesse kept saying that he didn't want to die, and he was terrified that he was going to die out there. They walked with us over a mile back to the trailhead. Jesse was more coherent but kept asking me the same questions over and over. He eventually realized he and already asked, but asked anyway, such as "I'm sorry Kelsey I know I already asked but I can't remember, ___(question here)___." 

I got back to the car and immediately called Erin. Erin is my boss. I was supposed to be at work in 2.5 hours. Last time this happened I was also scheduled to work (back in the Bravo days), and when I called they said "Well, we need you to come in for a few hours." And I did. This time, all Erin said was "Get to the hospital and don't worry about work. Let me know what happens." I work for wonderful people. I work for caring people. 

Jesse saw a neurologist (who actually specializes in seizures) and got a diagnosis of 'provoked epilepsy'. The doctors and whole experience at FMC was so much better than the previous experience at Borgess Hospital. Last time it was "But was it really a seizure?" And this time it was "This was a seizure, here's what we're going to do." I won't go in to details because that is Jesse's personal business and not mine to divulge. 

But now, a day later, I still feel emotional about it. I still start to cry when I actually replay it in my head, and on my run today I became angry. This isn't necessarily life-altering. He has medication, but can still do what he loves and I have no doubt about any sort of actual debilitation from this. We've talked a lot about what he does and does not remember, and he remembers not wanting to die. He told me he just kept thinking that he didn't want to leave me, and that he wasn't ready to leave me yet, and we have a whole life together to live still. And we do, and we will. To have a love as big as this sometimes feels unreal to me. I continually think I am the luckiest person in the world to have Jesse Scott as my significant other.

But then I thought about all of the people that are so willingly unhealthy and don't seem to give a fuck. Here is Jesse, the least deserving person of something like this (not to say that anyone deserves to be an epileptic), and he was worried about dying. He was worried about leaving me. My own mother smokes a pack of cigarettes a day and doesn't seem to worry about that. People die long and painful deaths of lung cancer and somehow, in the grand scheme of things, that doesn't seem to bother her. How can she not care about that? How can someone not do everything possible to stay alive as long as possible? How can people be so selfish? What the fuck is wrong with people? How do people not care about their health? And how do people in much more serious situations deal with things like this? And most of all, HOW DOES NO ONE FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT? Why is it unacceptable to talk about it? Why are interventions only acceptable for drug addicts? Why is it rude for me to call out women on my Facebook Newsfeed that post things like "I just want to be skinny" and then eat a fuckload of fried food? "Because it just is, Kelsey." I know that you just have to accept people for who they are. That is one of the rules of life. Sometimes that is just so hard, though and sometimes life is just too unfair. And sometimes I just feel like kicking and screaming about it in my own little corner of the internet. 

I have a friend, Scott Spitz, who has been living with cancer while still being an elite athlete and holding true to his ethical vegan standards. How does he deal with seeing people treat their bodies like shit, when he is the one that has to live with cancer? I know that you have to let it go. You just simply can't worry about other people that much and I will never understand people who are fat and can't breathe while walking up stairs and still eat shitty food. Perhaps writing about it is my way of letting go and cleansing myself of those kinds of frustrations. ...At least for a little bit.

I thought about my own health and how I treat myself. I work with a nutritionist and sports chiropractor (Dr. AJ Gregg), a professional running coach (Emily Harrison), and get worked on by a professional masseuse (Shea Tinder) to keep things in check - all just because I want to be the best athlete that I can be, and I have never felt better in my life - physically and mentally. In no way do I expect that of other people, and I understand the whole "Life is short, I'm going to do what I want". But my point is that life is short, and maybe people only realize that when there are close encounters with death. I also am not saying that everyone should be an athlete or measure every meal and record every ingredient. That shit is tedious and annoying and even I can't comma to doing it every day. I'm not preaching for people to live my lifestyle and I'm paranoid that people are going to think that I am. But people die of obesity. People die of lung cancer. And sometimes people just die. Several times my mother has told me "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything." And that is so true. Oh, the irony. 

I suppose it is necessary for me to wrap this post up with going back to Jesse. He is now back to normal (though a bit tired, seizing is exhausting, yo) and in good spirits. He also has a beautiful, sweet new mountain bike. :)