Where am I? I’m lying in a puddle of water on a linoleum floor. I try to get up but my legs just wobble. I push myself up to sit against the brown sofa while I try to gather my thoughts. The throbbing in the back of my head is too strong to think clearly. I look at the liquid spilled on the floor next to me, see the empty cup laying on its side nearby, and realize that I just woke up face-down without knowing how I got there. The cause becomes clear: I had a seizure. The red hot, growing spot on my forehead and purple lump on my elbow confirmed it.
I use the couch as balance as I climb to my feet and look around me. I recognize the layout of the apartment I’m staying at and walk to my room before trying to turn the light on. The lightswitch doesn’t work. Why? I’ve never had problems with the light in here. Why isn’t the light on? Why!
I’m trying not to panic but I need the light. My brain is racing too fast for my body to keep up. I sit on the cot to calm myself down and see the remote on the wall above the lightswitch. Of course. The remote. The remote controlled the light and the ceiling fan. Duh. It always had. I grab the remote to turn the light on and realize the buttons are too blurry to read. There are only four buttons so I thrash at them in a frenzy until the light above me comes on.
I ignore my buzzing ears and pulsing head and quickly fall asleep.
I still remember how I felt that day. It was May 21st, 2016 and I was sleeping at Lachlan’s apartment, a man I had met on Reddit.com’s Brisbane, Australia page after scrambling for lodging. On May 20th I had been at a punk concert at a seedy bar downtown. Behind me was several months of bad luck, most of it stemming from work or my health. I was falling apart.
Two weeks later my trip was over. My two year trip began when I got bored and realized I had enough money to support myself on the road. I fell apart at the end and limped back to the U.S., landing in Oregon to see family and get my health issues taken care of. My broken foot had set correctly and I would only black out twice over the next six months. I got orthopedic inserts and my foot pain largely went away. My new MRI showed that nothing in my brain had physically changed. I bought a noisemaker which calmed my tinnitus at night. I was completely healthy for the first time since I was a teenager.
Next up came work. I found a job I enjoyed which revolved around helping others while replenishing my bank account. I worked four ten hour days a week and got a three day weekend every weekend.
I was healthy. Work was good. Life was good. More than anything, I was bored.
I’m writing this from Fortaleza, Brazil. I spent much of last week on the toilet after eating some soiled acaraje and my hips are protesting every time I run. Last Friday I was in Salvador watching a punk show at a seedy condo covered in graffiti. This all feels so familiar. I have been here before.
This time I didn’t have a seizure the next day.
Was it coincidence or a sign that the cycle can be broken?
Time will tell.