56: My Mom’s TBI

56: My Mom’s TBI

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries

My Mom’s TBI

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.

~Barbara Bush

My mother has seizures. She was diagnosed when I was ten. Doctors started her on Dilantin immediately. Then began the search for the cause. Questions were hurled at her. The most common was if she had had any brain injuries in the past three, six, or twelve months.

Back then, medical science hadn’t realized that a person with a head injury could be at risk for up to fifteen years. My mother had been in an abusive relationship before she met my father. To this day she has a tiny piece of glass embedded in the back of her neck from the abuse.

Her seizures altered our lives. My sister and I were taught the proper steps to take if my mother had one while our father was at work. On our fridge, there were no happy pictures; there was just a list of emergency numbers to call: one for our dad and one for our grandparents. My sister and I took turns sleeping with our mother in case of an attack.

We saw our first seizure a little later in the year. It happened at a very crowded Ryan’s. Our mother let out a growl and food began dribbling down her chin. My father nearly upended the table as he caught her before she hit the floor. My sister and I started crying when he leaned her over his lap to keep her from choking.

At that point, a very nice waitress came and took us to the reserved party section and gave us ice cream. It did little to keep us from crying. I was so afraid Mommy wouldn’t come home. About ten minutes later the waitress took us outside where we saw our father half carrying our mother to the car.

An ambulance had arrived, but my mother was very agitated at the thought of riding in it. My mom spent the next few weeks in and out of doctors’ offices and the hospital for more tests. Still no cause.

My sister would no longer sleep with my mom in case she had a seizure. She was too frightened. I was the oldest so I did it. God blessed us. We didn’t have to deal with a seizure on our own until I was thirteen.

I was sleeping in my own room that night because my father was supposed to be home around 3:00 in the morning. We had just acquired a new puppy that kept me company. It was 1:00 a.m. and I was sleeping soundly. A whining noise from the puppy woke me. The dog was on the floor. I shrugged it off and tried to roll over and drift back to sleep. My arm was hanging off the side of the bed. Katie, the puppy, whined again and sank her little puppy teeth into my arm.

Naturally, I got up and flicked the light on to see how bad the wound was. It wasn’t too deep. Then I looked for the dog. She whined from my parents’ room. When I looked in, the dog was licking my mother’s feet as her body convulsed on the bed. I screamed for my sister.

Carla grabbed the phone and cried when she couldn’t reach my father. He was already on his way home and out of cell phone range. She did reach my grandparents. The whole time, she followed my orders and even broke her toe getting things for me.

About seven minutes later my mother came out of her seizure. To our dismay she did not know who we were. I got her to the living room so she would be less inclined to sleep. Her doctor said she should not sleep for two hours after a seizure.

That was when my grandfather showed up. When he entered the house my mother slurred, “Who are you?”

Pawpaw looked at her and said, “Deanna, it’s Daddy. Your girls called me.” Mom looked around confused and said, “What girls? I don’t have any girls.” I was reluctant to go back to bed and leave my mom, but I had to go to school the next day.

The next week my mother had a new doctor and a new prescription. Tegratol changed everything for all of us. In the decade since, my mother has had only one seizure. She is now a full-time secretary. Her new doctor wanted to do tests but Mom said she didn’t care how she got the seizures. She had them now and she just had to deal with them.

~Brittany Perry

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners