A Fine Line Between Patient and Provider, and a Mother’s Plea for More Epilepsy ResearchJuly 19, 2013
Thomas is a frequent flier in our ER, a bespeckled 40-something with coke-bottle glasses, a man who seems to run, like a dog out for a joyride, right into the arms of the dogcatcher. The police bring him in, one man on each arm, his legs limp. Thomas has schizoaffective disorder, dives into the fountain at the mall, screams at strangers at the YMCA, paces outside the grocery store. In a way, I understand—sometimes behaving according to convention can be a little dull.
That’s the start of “Thomas,” the July Reflections essay in AJN by Emily Maloney. It’s about the fine, but still absolute, line that can exist between paid provider and patient at moments when life feels overwhelming to both. Or something like that—it’s hard to summarize a nuanced, lightly ironic account like this in a few words. Like all Reflections essays, it’s short, free, and worth a full read.
The July Viewpoint essay, “A Son’s Seizures,” is written from the perspective of a mother, Linda Breneman, who looked beyond her own experience to become an advocate for all those with epilepsy, particularly those with the intractable sort that doesn’t respond to most treatments. While most people with epilepsy respond to medications and can eventually live more or less normal lives, it’s the author’s well-argued conviction that more research needs to be done to help the subset of those with epilepsy who remain at constant risk of horrific seizures and even death. Here’s a passage from the start, but this column is also always free, so please have a look.
One night at 10 pm, my husband came into the family room carrying our son. Chris’s head was thrown back as if he was sleeping.
“What is this?” my husband said.
Chris’s left side was jerking rhythmically. His mouth twitched in time to the jerks. Drool poured from his lips. He stared as if enthralled by an invisible circus act.
I hesitated, froze, dithered, then said, “I think it’s a seizure.”