I was taking the bus the other day, probably to Goodwill or someplace, no place really fun, maybe the grocery store. I take two buses to get to SE Portland, and got off one and stood at the next stop waiting for the connecting bus. I glanced over to the curb, preparing to stare off into the middle distance, neither here nor there, waiting to go somewhere else. What I saw instead of the usual street scene was shocking.
A youngish man was lying on the curb perfectly still. He was wearing the usual Portland earth tones and jeans, but there was a great deal of blood around his mouth and on his chest. A youngish woman knelt down beside him. I wanted to ask her what had happened, because unlike me she didn't appear at all horrified or shocked, just concerned and accepting. It scared me because a month or 2 ago, a young man in NE Portland was shot as he got off the bus after a short altercation with another passenger. He crawled home and died. Had this man been shot?
Before I could figure what I should do if anything, another woman walked toward me, also waiting for the bus. She looked sad and concerned but not upset. "Do you know what happened?" I asked. "Yes," she answered, "he fell and had a seizure." Nurses from the clinic across the street were running over. The man was completely still. Soon an ambulance came and sat the man up to put him on a stretcher. He looked around, completely dazed. I know a thing or 2 about seizures. My nephew, mother and I all have epilepsy. As my nephew would say, "having a seizure feels like you've just had the shit kicked out of you." It really is terrible, and the blood from this man's mouth was from biting his tongue.
The waiting woman continued her observations. "I'm a nursing student. I have a good friend with epilepsy. She can't drive so I do a lot of driving for her to doctor's appointments and stuff. She has lots of seizures."
"That's awful," I said. "I have epilepsy too, but haven't had a seizure in almost a decade. It was much worse when I was younger."
"Yes, that's right," she said. "My friend is in her 20s, and she can't drive."
I found myself feeling lucky I could drive if I could afford it, and wishing I had been driving so I could avoid this whole sad thing, and all the stuff that went with it. And how I had once 20 years ago had a seizure while waiting for the bus and woke up in the emergency room. I do not think it cost me anything with the insurance I had back then. I wondered about this guy, how he was going to do. I was glad and relieved he had not been shot, and despite all the blood, he looked whole. He could sit up, look around, but I knew how he felt. The electric storm in your brain that is the seizure leaves a huge headache, not to mention the sore mouth and sore muscles. And so I could see the good luck this man had, that people in Portland care and will stop and try to help even if it looks scary, and no I didn't do anything or say anything to him, just let the people who knew what to do go ahead and do it, and felt lucky, very, very lucky that it had not been me on the ground, and worried more than ever about my nephew.
This is not a Christmas story exactly, but it's my frame of my mind this Christmas. I am making hats and scarves and cookies, thanks Ardee and LuluandPhoebe for your good recipes. That's nice, but it would be good to have a little extra to buy nice winter coats for my daughters, or cute books or something more useful than hats and cookies. I guess I do have a little extra. I have a job, we'll have good food, Fayard and I, for Christmas. I have a church I like to go to, got a good card from my best friend in Roseburg, money from my father, who I love very much even though he's been brainwashed, another victim of Fox news. I'm not upset so much about not having material things, but the absence of hope I have for a better life for my kids or other people and their kids. Some people are doing fine, I know, but some are not which makes it really difficult for me to appreciate what I do have, when it seems like the most vile individuals in our society are the most richly rewarded, and people who try to help are villified.
This is not a holiday from hell story, but I do not really believe in hell anyway. I believe in real life and although it's not always pleasant, I believe the real hell is what my Catholic Sunday schoolteacher taught me: The inability to love anyone at all, including yourself. The absence of love is hell, so I've not yet experienced hell. I guess I'm just very, very sad.
It's good not to have to suffer seizures anymore, but it doesn't mean my heart can't break for the people who still do suffer. I should also mention that my seizures are not controlled by luck or age, but by a very expensive medication called Keppra, but again I have insurance which cuts the cost considerably.