Sometimes kids with unexplained seizures are hospitalized so that their brain activity can be monitored. So they are outfitted with electrodes hidden underneath a kind of muslin turban. Then they wait, sometimes days, for a seizure to occur.
Making clown rounds among these patients always involves a familiar scenario: Mom or Dad is looking at the child, knowing something is wrong. The child, staring back, is thinking, “I know something’s out of whack, but why is nothing happening?”
One day my partner and I were invited into the room of a teenage boy. The father looked at the kid, the kid looked at the father, the father looked at the mother, the mother looked at the kid, the kid looked at the mother. The ritual repeated. Until we arrived.
I asked the Dad if he had any money and started playing a little street shuffle called “two card monte” with Dad and the kid. (The person who holds the cards controls who wins, and I made sure the kid always won.) When I got the Dad up to 35 cents, the kid was thrilled! He was winning!
I told Dad it was time to pay up, and my partner and I started to leave. Just as we were walking out of the room, alarms began sounding, bells started ringing and the medical staff came flying into the room. I thought for sure one of us had tripped over something. Regardless, we had been trained to scram in this kind of emergency, so my partner and I stepped into the next room.
Later, after everything calmed down, we were walking past the teenager’s room when his mother literally grabbed me. “Thank you so much for giving my son a seizure!” she said.
I was devastated. My jaw dropped. I just looked at her and asked,”Is this a good thing?”
“We have been waiting three days for it,” she said.
“Well, then, it was my pleasure!”
I immediately went down to the charge nurse and said,” I just gave someone a seizure. Should I call my lawyer?”
She replied, “That’s great! See if you can give one to Room 324. She has been here for more than a week.”
Apparently the boy’s seizure was brought on when he was elevated to happiness and just starting to come down to neutral. Because of this seizure, they were able to figure out exactly where in the brain it originated. Later, an operation cured the boy of his seizures altogether.
So every time I am on the neurology floor I think about wearing a two-sided T-shirt. The front will say, “Visit with the clowns” and on the back would be a waving hand and the words “Seize You Later!”