When sage met orion

The trek was arduous and cold despite the layers and layers of clothing Sage wore.  She wasn’t even sure if Gu Mi knew where she was going.  They had been walking for hours in quiet and there was nothing but snow white wasteland for miles.  Sage never thought she’d visit Siberia.  Now, she knew that she didn’t want to, either.  

“Please tell me we’re getting close now,” Sage said through partially chapped lips.

“There’s the treeline.  Do you see it?”  Sage nodded.  “We are getting close, now,”  Gu Mi assured Sage.  In the distance, the blinding white ice and snow were contrasted by small fir trees.  Eventually they arrived at the edge of a forest of tall, snowy evergreens.

Gu Mi looked like she wasn’t struggling with the weather conditions at all.  Sage suspected that the heavy parka Gu Mi wore was simply for show. 

Another hour passed as they made their way through the forest and it was around that time that the two heard heavy, animal-like breathing and the snapping of twigs.  Sage stopped dead in her tracks.  Whatever that sound was, it wasn’t human.  She slowly turned around and found herself face to face with a Polar Bear.

“Holy shit,” she exclaimed as she stumbled from shock and fell backwards onto the snow.  She began to panic, wondering how to escape, praying that she wouldn’t die.  The polar bear rared up on it’s hind legs and let out a mighty roar.  Sage looked to her right to see Gu Mi completely nonplussed with her arms crossed.

“Oh, knock it off Orion.  You’re going to scare the poor girl.”  The polar bear began to change slowly into a humanoid form until a haggard old man stood before Sage.

“That was the point, Gu Mi.”  Orion was tall, hulking even.  His white hair was pulled back into a pony tail.  The lines in his face showed the signs of age and were enhanced by the harshness of Siberian winter.  His right eye was a piercing blue while his left eye was completely clouded over, a scar stretching from above his eyebrow down to his cheek.  His clothes were mostly skins and fur.  His accent was Russian.

Gu Mi stood her ground and her resolve was unshakable.  “Point made.  We need to talk.”

“Move along, vixen.  I have nothing to talk about with you or any other warden for that matter.  This land is mine and you’re not welcome.  Take the girl and go.”  Orion turned to leave.

Gu Mi stood her ground with an expressionless face, “I can’t do that.”

“You can and you will.”  Orion threatened with a growl from deep inside his chest.

Gu Mi completely ignored his last statement, “Sage, I’d like you to meet Orion, Warden of Northern Eurasia, son of the Ursini.”

Sage, still flat on her rear and in shock, managed to nod in acknowledgement.  She thought she’d be used to all the supernatural stuff by now, but there seemed to be a new surprise everyday.  Orion threw his arms up in the air, annoyed, “Great.  We’re introduced.  Pleased to meet you.  Now leave.”

“I don’t think the introductions are finished, Orion.”  Gu Mi stood her ground.

“Sage was it?”  Sage nodded once more.

“Then all formalities have been met.  If I have to tell you one more time to leave, the world may have one less Warden and I’ll do with the girl as I see fit.”

“That’s the plan.  Well the last part at least.  I’ll be keeping my head, thank you very much.  I’m sure the last thing you need is me on your bad side.”  Gu Mi’s arms were crossed and she tapped her gloved fingers against her arm.

Orion let out a sigh of defeat.  He knew exactly what Gu Mi was capable of and while she couldn’t go head to head with him in combat, she fought dirty and he was too old to bother with the idea of wasting his energy on a pointless battle. “Go on then, woman.  Explain why you’re here.”

“Sage will be studying the art of battle under your care.”

“Ha! You cannot just waltz into my domain and make demands of me.  Who is this girl to me?”

Gu Mi closed a bit of the gap between her and Orion.  “I’m glad you asked.  Her birth name is Asura.  She’s the daughter of Arduinna and the Warden of North America.”

Orion scratched his white beard and peered at Sage.  She could have sworn she saw his face soften despite the taught skin and weather worn wrinkles.  “I guess this changes things.  I thought this girl was dead.”

Gu Mi wore a sideways smirk and raised an eyebrow, “You wouldn’t deny this to the daughter of your beloved, would you?”

“You are walking a thin line, fox.  I suggest you mind your tongue.”  And just like that, any softness in his face disappeared.  Orion turned to Sage, “Are you truly Asura, the daughter of Arduinna?”

Sage, too petrified to respond, turned to Gu Mi who encouraged her to speak with a simple nod.  “Th-that is what I’ve been told, sir.  I never met my mother and I just learned of my birth name.”

“Sir?”  Orion paused and then let out a deep laugh, “I am no sir, daughter of the Dryads.  Come, child, my cabin is not too far from here.”  Orion turned to leave and Sage followed for a few steps until she realized that Gu Mi wasn’t walking along side her, “Gu Mi?”

“This is where we say our goodbyes for now, Sage.”  Gu Mi almost looked as if she would tear up.

Sage cocked her head, “What do you mean?  You aren’t coming along?”

Gu Mi stepped towards the stunned girl and placed her hands on her shoulders.  “I mean I have given you all the help I can for now.  Now it’s up to you to embrace your destiny.”

“So I’m to follow him….alone?”  Sage felt unsure, scared and full of apprehension.

Gu Mi rolled her eyes, “His bark is far worse than his bite.  You will be fine.”

“Will I see you again?”  

“Of course.  I’m your ticket back to civilization.”

Sage nodded her head towards Orion who was still walking away, “How long will I be here?”

With a solomn face, Gu Mi bowed her head, “As long as you need to be.”

Sage resigned herself to her fate.  She knew that even if she begged, Gu Mi would not take her back.  Gu Mi stepped forward and hugged her.  “Learn from him.  Let him guide you along your current path.  You must learn how to fight even if you don’t want to.  Our enemies will spare no quarter on you.”

She wanted Gabriel or Ren or her Uncle Mel at that moment.  She felt vulnerable and there was no one to hide behind, “Can I…”

“Can you trust him?”  Gu Mi seemed to read her mind.  She had a knack for that.  “Yes, you can.  He loved your mother and through that bond, he will protect you.  Now go.  We will see each other again before you know it.”  Gu Mi planted a gentle kiss on Sage’s forehead.

“Will you tell Mel, Gabriel and…”

“Ren?  No, I will not tell any of them where you are, only that you’re safe.  The less people that know your location, the safer you’ll be.  Now go on and catch up to your new mentor.  May the spirit of Yggdrassil watch over you.”

“You change your mind, Asura, daughter of the Dryads?” Orion yelled over his shoulder, “Nightfall doesn’t wait for anyone and we still have a bit to go before we reach home.”  Sage spared one last glance at Gu Mi before jogging to catch up to Orion.  Gu Mi smiled and turned to leave.

Walking in step behind Orion, she offered her name once more, “Sage.”

“What’s that, girl?”

“I don’t know much about this ‘Asura, daughter of the Dryads’ business.  But you can call me Sage.”

“Very well, Sage.  Come, we’ll have dinner and a rest.  Tomorrow you begin your training.”


Untitled – Chapter 2

It had been awhile since Sage went to the ladies’ room and Gabriel was getting nervous. He knew he detected something, or someone, earlier and his senses were on red alert. He excused himself from his group of friends and walked towards the rest rooms. His eyes narrowed when he saw Sage and…that thing. Sage looked drunk and dazed, but Gabriel knew it was the effects of the Diablos standing in front of her. Gabriel noticed Sage’s necklace in the monster’s hand and he rushed over to her side.

“I’ve been looking for you,” the Diablos said with a hint of accomplishment in his voice. He dangled the broken necklace in front of Sage’s face. Sage was swaying slightly from side to side, her eyelids heavy. He noticed her going through the change. Her ears had become pointy, similar to an elf’s from a fairy tale. Her skin had begun to take on a green hue. He could smell nature’s essence swirling around her. He had to stop this before someone noticed. Gabriel walked over and grabbed the Diablos’ wrist with one hand and yanked the necklace free with the other. The Diablos reacted with a chuckle.

“What do you think you’re doing here?” Gabriel demanded, not letting the Diablos’ wrist go.

“Just looking for treasure,” the Diablos yanked his wrist free and gestured towards Sage’s change, “It looks like I’ve found her.”

“You shall not touch her. Go back to where you crawled from.” Gabriel quickly fastened the necklace around Sage’s neck before sweeping her off her feet, one hand along her back, the other under her knees. Her features slowly returned to normal but she was out cold.

The Diablos was annoyed with Gabriel’s interference, “Ah, well, I can’t do that. She’s quite important to my client.” The color of his eyes flashed from brown to crimson and fangs protruded from below his upper lip. His body emitted a kind of whispy dark vapor.

“She belongs in my keeping.” Gabriel’s eyes, normally blue, turned bright gold and seemed to glow. A barely noticable halo of light encircled his head.

“I thought Seraphs weren’t supposed to covet things. Tsk, tsk.” The Diablos non-chalantly examined his fingernails.

Gabriel leaned in to the Diablos and lowered his voice, “Do you even think before you act? We’re in a public place. You’re risking uncovering our worlds,” Gabriel spat through his teeth.
The Diablos dismissed Gabriel with a wave of his hand, “Chill. I’ve put up a barrier that shields the humans from seeing what’s truly going on.” At that moment, a girl walked between them towards the bathroom. It was as if Gabriel, Sage and the Diablos didn’t even exist. “See?”

“Marvel at your handiwork some other time. We’re leaving, and if you appear around Sage again, I’ll kill you.” Gabriel gave a menacing glare and walked away before yelling over his shoulder, “And tell your client to piss up a rope.”

The Diablos’ voice became very serious. “Ren.”

Gabriel stopped dead in his tracks and spun around, “What?”

“It’s my name. Don’t forget it. We’ll see eachother again soon, Seraph.” With that, Ren disappated in front of Gabriel’s eyes.

Sage woke up with the worst hangover ever. She struggled upright and buried her head in her hands. Ugh, I need water. Without even vocalizing that thought, a glass and two pills were handed to her. Sage peered up to see Gabriel, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

“I guess you had too much fun yesterday.” He flopped next to her on the bed. Sage took the pills and tried to remember last night. She remembered the crowd, the loud noises, and unfortunately Jack. There was something else that happened but she couldn’t remember. Instinctively her hand went to her pendant and she felt reassured it was around her neck, but she didn’t exactly know why.

“What exactly happened last night, Gabe?”

“You don’t remember?” He peered at her tentitively.

“I remember your weirdo friends…and Jack,” she rolled her eyes, but even that action caused her head to throb so she laid back down. Gabriel internally sighed in relief. The spell had worked and it seemed as if her memory of Ren had been surpressed for now.

Gabriel leaned back against the headboard, “You got so drunk that you climbed up on the bar and started dancing.”

Sage’s mouth dropped open, “I did not…”

“You did.” Gabe nodded at her.

Sage covered her mouth, completely mortified, “There’s no way…oh God, there’s no way…”

“I’m kidding!” Gabriel brushed a strand of hair away from her face and laughed, “You just drank too much and I took you home.”

Sage slapped Gabriel on the arm. He recoiled in mock anguish. She settled back down on the bed and murmured, “Jack kept feeding me shots…”

Gabriel’s face became stern, “I’ll have a talk with that guy.”

“You don’t have to. I’m not interested in him. But there’s something else. Something that happened but I can’t remember it. I’m sure something happened.” Sage shook her head, trying to will away the mental haze.

Gabriel shifted his eyes downward, unable to bring himself to lie while looking at her, “I was with you for most of the night, Sage. Nothing out of the ordinary happened.”

“I guess…”

“Look, why don’t you relax for now and get some rest?”

“Actually, I think I’ll take a shower. I feel disgusting.” Sage caught a whiff of the alcohol seeping through her pores.

“Alright.” Gabriel caressed her face and kissed her on the forehead, “I’ll tell Mel to fix you some breakfast.”

She watched Gabriel’s back as he exited her room. It was moments like those that made their relationship all the more confusing. Was it just that they had become so comfortable that displays of affection were a normal part of their life? Did he touch her like that because he felt something more or because he saw her as a sibling? She didn’t know. And after seeing that brunette hover around him last night and the way he pushed Jack onto her, she found herself getting angry, confused and jealous at the same time. She pulled her legs to her chest and rested her head on her knees, fighting back tears of frustration. She was snapped out of her brooding moment by her cell phone ringing.

“Hello?” She croaked.

“You sound like shit, Sage. Are you sick?” Olivia Gregori’s voice sounded over the phone. Sage had known Olivia since highschool Along with Gabriel, the three of them had been friends since Freshman Orientation.

Sage groaned, “No, just hungover.”

“You went out last night without me?” Olivia scoffed into the phone.

“Gabriel dragged me out.” Sage proceeded to recount the evening’s events, excluding the part where she felt something happened that she couldn’t remember.

There was a pause after Sage finished before Olivia spoke up with no small amount of disgust in her voice, “So he tried to hook you up with a guy and paraded a girlfriend in front of you? Is he stupid or just mean?”

“I don’t know that she’s his girlfriend.”

Olivia didn’t give Sage a chance to continue, “Not the point and you know it. Jesus, Sage, why don’t you just tell him how you feel?”

Sage sat upright in her bed, “And risk years and years of our friendship? No way.”

“Fine. Then stay on this track and torture yourself for the rest of your life.”

“Olivia, what would I even say? Where would I even start?”

A sigh came from Oliva’s end of the phone, “Simple. You ask him to join you for lunch or dinner and you just tell him. You just suck it up and tell him.”

Sage bit her lip, “I feel uneasy about this.”

“Look, I’ve told you this before and I’ll tell you this again,” Olivia began, “You can continue pining away for him or you can take a chance and find out how he feels. I doubt you two will stop being friends. At the very least, he may stop torturing you by bringing you around all his girlfriends. Either way, it will provide you with closure.”

“You’re right. I just need to figure out a plan.”

“Well, don’t wait too long. The end of the semester will be here before you know it. You don’t want to spend all summer as the third wheel again.”

“You’re right. See you on campus tomorrow?”

“Yep! Love ya!”

“You too.”

Sage sat on her bed for another moment absorbing the conversation she just had with Olivia before dragging her body towards the shower. She stopped in her tracks when she heard her uncle and Gabriel talking downstairs. Uncle Mel sounded very agitated and Gabriel was on the defensive.

“What were you thinking, Gabriel? She was right next to you!”

“I don’t know. It’s not like I meant to.”

“So what are you going to do about it? It’s about time she knew.”

“I don’t know. I just need more time to figure it out.”

“You better figure it out soon. She can’t wait forever.”

What does he need to figure out? What does he need to tell me? Could it be that Gabriel feels the same? Has my uncle known all this time? Is he pushing Gabriel to tell me that he likes me? It felt like she was dreaming. She stood in the shower just letting the water rush over her. Her heart was beating out of control. She would take Olivia’s advice. She would take the leap and confess to Gabriel. She made her way out of the shower and dressed. She twisted her wet hair into a bun and stomped down the stairs.

“Morning uncle Mel!” She said practically skipping into the kitchen.

“Morning? It’s past Noon.” Mel was standing next to the stove with a hand on one hip and a spatula in the other.

“Is it? Then it’s lunch time!” She announced, sounding a bit too excited.

Mel had turned back to the stove, “I take it you’re hungry? Good. I made some eggs.”

Sage grabbed Gabriel’s arm and began to drag him out of the kitchen, “Sorry, but Gabe and I made plans for lunch.”

Gabriel stumbled with her, confusion on his face. “W-we did?”

“Of course, silly! Remember?” She opened her eyes wide, urging him to play along.

“Uh…yeah, yeah. Lunch.” He offered an awkward grin to Mel.

Mel spun around and pointed the spatula at the stove top, “What about these eggs, Sage?”

Sage had already dragged Gabriel to the foyer. She tossed her purse over her shoulder. “Sorry, uncle! You have them!” She yelled as she made her way out the door.

Once outside the front door, Gabriel pulled his arm from her grasp, “Sage, what’s up?”

She linked her arm through his, “I just wanted to have lunch with you, that’s all.”

“Should we invite…”

“No!” She cried out before calming herself down, “I mean, no. Just us, okay?”

“Okay, let’s go.” The pair hopped into his car and drove off.

Mel stood at the front window, watching Sage pull away from the house. A look of concern spread across his face. He recalled the conversation he had with Gabriel.

Gabriel came down the stairs and sat at the kitchen table. “Melorne, we have a problem.”

“Addressing me so formally? I guess this is a big deal. Is it so important that you have to tell me know while she’s home?”

“Yeah, I do. She’s in the shower so we have some time.”

Melorne put the eggs in his hand on the counter. “Then proceed. Just keep an ear out for Sage.”

“A Diablos was at the bar with us last night.” Melorne’s interest was piqued at this news. Gabriel recounted the previous night to Melorne, “I sensed him but didn’t see him until he caught her by the bathroom. He removed the necklace and she began to change.”

“What were you thinking, Gabriel? She was right next to you!”

“I don’t know. It’s not like I meant to.”

“So what are you going to do about it? It’s about time she knew.”

“I don’t know. I just need more time to figure it out.”

“You better figure it out soon. She can’t wait forever.”

There was a long pause. Gabriel stared out the window at the garden in the backyard. “Why can’t she be shielded from this forever, Melorne?”

“Because there is a void right now. The longer her rightful place remains empty, things will only continue to get worse.” Melorne placed his hands at the edge of the table and leaned in towards Gabriel, “I made a deal with you Seraphs. I promised to hold off the change until the time was right. In exchange you were offered to help protect her. From the moment you were sent here as a child, you knew this day would come. And now that the Diablos has found her, I fear it may be too late. She has no idea what she is and who she will have to be. You need to inform the Seraph that the time is now. Either way, I will tell her with or without the Seraph’s acknowledgement.

Sage needed to know everything. The truth was long overdue and if Gabriel wouldn’t tell her then he would, no matter the cost.

Untitled – Chapter 1

“Seriously, Gabriel, I’m trying to focus here,” Sage lifted her eyes in an annoyed gaze at her closest friend.  Gabriel thought it was a hilarious idea to sneak up behind Sage and sprinkle wood chips on her head.  She brushed the debris out of her auburn hair and went back to extracting pollen from the African Violet flower that she held between her fingers.
“Sorry, sorry.” He chuckled.
“Are not.” The corner of Sage’s mouth formed the hint of a grin as she pried a bit of pollen out of the center of the flower.
“So what’s on today’s agenda?”  He rested his chin on her shoulder, watching her work.
“I’m trying to cross-breed these two African Violets,” Sage gave Gabriel a sideways look, “and it would be a lot easier if someone didn’t have their chin digging into my clavicle.”
“Saaaage,” Gabriel whined as he crossed his arms in an over-exaggerated huff and leaned against her work table.  The contents on top of the table jostled a bit and she shot him another annoyed glance.
She put the flower aside and focused her attention on her impatient friend, “What is so important that you’re interfering with my studies, Gabe?”
“I want to play,” he nudged her like an impish child.
Sage rolled her eyes but managed to smile a little, “Don’t you think we’re too old to play?”
“What?  Sage!  Are you okay?!”  Gabriel put a hand on her forehead in mock concern.  “Old?  Twenty is not too old to play.”
“Some of us care about midterms, you know, but fine, let me finish this up and we’ll go play, alright?”  Sage gave up the fight and quickly tidied up her workstation.
“Hey!  I care about midterms!” Gabriel pretended to be hurt, “It’s not my fault that I’m a whiz at Quantum Physics.”
Sage scoffed, “Show off.  You better buy me something super nice when you graduate with that diploma.  I’ll be lucky if I can afford ramen with mine.”  Sage knew she should have gone into a more financially stable major, but couldn’t help it.  She definitely had a green thumb and she  felt at home in her garden or at the green house.
Gabe put his arm on her shoulder.  “Don’t worry, flower girl, I’ll hook you up with a rich, hot guy so you won’t have to worry about anything but growing plants for the rest of your life.”  Sage lightly punched Gabriel in the stomach.  He recoiled and put on theatrics over how hurt he was.
The pair had been friends for as long as either of them could remember.  She couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t in her life.  From stumbling toddler to awkward adolescents and now as young adults; they were inseparable.
Sage finished cross pollinating before wiping her dirty hands on her work apron.  “I need to clean up,”  The greenhouse was humid and she always left smelling like a mix of soil, flowers and sweat.  “Meet you at my house in an hour?”
“Sounds good.”  Gabriel flashed her a perfect smile before the two of them headed from the University of Toronto’s greenhouse to the parking lot.  Sage constantly fought an internal battle with her emotions when it came to Gabriel.  They had always been close, but with the arrival of puberty came feelings towards Gabriel that changed from friendship to something deeper.  Gabriel had girlfriend after girlfriend in high school and Sage always sat on the sidelines being silently bitter.  Sure, she had her fair share of boyfriends, but she never felt for them what she felt for Gabriel.  If she could just find the courage to speak up about her feelings maybe they could go from friends to something more.
Timing was never on her side, and being stuck in the friend zone was the worst.  Every attempt at flirting was met with a remark about how adorable she is and usually was followed by him mussing her hair.  She knew in her heart that he viewed her as a sister and nothing more.  Eventually she just gave in to the idea that her love would always be one-sided because she was too afraid that if she went all in and confessed, their friendship could end.
She waved to Gabriel as he got into his brand new black Hyundai Veloster and then she slid into her silver 2001 Toyota Camry.  It was nothing to write home about, but it got her where she needed to go.  Sage wasn’t the type to get hung up on material things.  Gabriel had a tendency to lean towards opulence, even though he never overtly flaunted it.
She pulled into her driveway 15 minutes later, grabbing her bag and headed towards the cozy old bungalow, built over a century ago, with stone and mortar.  Ivy climbed up half the house and the yard was full of flowers, shrubs and beautiful shade trees.  She passed under an arched trellis adorned with climbing hydrangea.
Sage’s cat, Oscar, was waiting for her at the door.  He barely let her get one foot through the door before he wound himself around her leg, purring loudly.  She bent down and scratched his head, “I’m happy to see you too, Oskie.”  Sage threw her book-bag on a bench in the foyer.  “Uncle Mel!  I’m home,” she announced loudly, but there was no response.  She made her way to the kitchen and found a note on the table.
Ran out to grab a few items from the market.
Uncle Mel, ever to the point. She set his note back down on the table and went upstairs to shower.
Sage was raised by her Uncle.  She never knew her parents, Jane and Aurthur Hampton.  All she knew about them was that they were botanists that went missing during an expedition in the Amazon jungle.  A search turned up nothing, and after a few years, the authorities assumed they had perished.  A funeral was held for her parents, even though no bodies were ever found.  Sage never felt any particular loss over her parent’s death.  She had only been two when she was left in her Uncle’s care when her parents departed to study plant life in the Amazon.  She had a few photos of her parents, her father’s journal and a necklace she always wore.  In the hollow of her neck rested an alternate leaf dogwood flower, perfectly preserved in a resin shaped teardrop pendant, attached to a worn, brown leather string.  It was her mother’s.  Her uncle always told her that so long as she wore the necklace, her mother would always be near.  She liked to think it was true; that her mother’s spirit was lingering around, watching over her.
Sage stepped out of the shower and threw on a bathrobe before drying her hair and throwing it up into a ponytail.  She grabbed a grey and white striped sweater, a pair of jeans and her black ballet flats from her closet.  After getting dressed, she walked to her vanity and applied minimal makeup to her face, just enough to cover the freckles on her nose a bit and line her emerald green eyes.  Pretty average, she thought about herself as she looked in the mirror.  She was of medium height and had a slightly athletic build.  Not as skinny or as curvy in the right places as she’d like to be, but she shrugged it off.  She could hear the door open downstairs.
“Sage!” Gabriel’s voice carried up the stairs.
“Be right down!” She shouted back.  She grabbed her purse off the armchair in the corner of her room and skipped down the stairs to meet Gabriel.  “So where are we going?”
“I thought we’d meet up with some friends at a bar down on Bloor Street.”  The pair climbed into Gabriel’s car.
“Friends?” Sage asked as she buckled her seat belt.  But of course it would be more than just the two of us.  Why wouldn’t it be?  
“It will be awesome, I promise,” Gabriel offered up a smile, “and there’s someone I want to introduce you to.”  He backed out of the driveway and drove towards their destination.
Great.  Probably a new girlfriend.  Sage leaned forward and turned on the stereo.  She plugged her phone into the car’s MP3 jack and scrolled through a list of music.  Settling on Arcade Fire’s Reflektor, she pressed play and turned up the volume.  Music was the perfect diversion for the sudden funk she was feeling.
Gabriel pulled the Veloster into a parking lot and paid the attendant the evening fee.  The two started their trek towards the restaurant.  “It’s chilly,” Gabriel exclaimed as he shoved his hands into his jean’s pockets.  It was the middle of April, that time in Toronto where the weather can’t make up it’s mind if it wants to be cold or warm.  Even with a sweater on, Sage felt the brisk wind and wrapped her arms across her chest.  A few blocks later a group of people in front of Tully’s Tavern were waving down Gabriel.
Sage stopped dead in her tracks.  “Uh, Gabe, who are these people?”  There wasn’t a single face that Sage recognized.  She hated being thrown into situations with new people.  By nature she was introverted, plus she hated being asked probing ice-breaker questions like “Where are you from?” which, after about half an hour, lead inevitably to a question about parents or childhood.  She hated the looks of pity when she answered that she was orphaned and raised by her uncle.  Gabriel always told her that she didn’t need to tell anyone anything, but she also didn’t want to appear bitchy by telling people it’s none of their business.
“They’re from the Theology club.” He grinned.
“Theology?” Sage raised an eyebrow, “Seriously?”  For as long as she knew him, Gabriel had never been the religious type.  For all she knew, he could have been agnostic or atheist, but he had an obsession with all things religion.  He would spend hours pouring over the pages of different versions of the Bible, Qur’an or the Torah.  Not a single text linked to anything religious or spiritual was off limits to him.  Sage recalled one time while he was reading the Bible and began laughing.  When she asked what was so funny, he said he found the interpretation of events amusing.  Sage just shrugged it off, chalking it up as one of his many quirks.  I guess it was no surprise that he would join a Theology club considering that he had made it his side hobby.
“Don’t worry, Sage,” Gabriel threw his arm around her shoulder, “These aren’t exactly the kind of people who pray at a bar…or anywhere else for that matter.”  Sage looked at him like he had a second head.  Leave it to Gabriel to find a group of people just as strange as he was.
Gabriel waved and shouted his hellos and he was greeted by his fellow “theologians” with pats on the back, fist bumps and bro hugs.  There were a few girls in the mix of the mostly male group.  Sage stood back, waiting for their bravado to finish and wishing that she had stayed home.
“Oh right!” Gabriel seemed to finally remember that Sage was standing there and he grabbed her by the shoulder into a side hug, “This is my platonic life partner, Sage Hampton.”
Sage felt bile creep up her throat.   She couldn’t believe that he would introduce her that way, and what was worse was that the girls seemed relieved by his statement.  Despite feeling completely incensed, she managed a smile and lifted her hand in a slight wave.  One of the guys stepped forward and grabbed Sage’s hand.
“My name is Jack,” he lifted the back of her hand to his lips. “Pleased to meet you.”
Sage pulled her hand away quickly and tried to be discreet while rubbing the invisible slime off her hand against her jeans.  “Nice to meet you.”
“Yo, Gabe, you didn’t tell me you were hiding this hottie.” Jack nudged Gabe.
“Hey man, take it easy, she’s like a sister to me.”  He threatened playfully.  Sage gave serious thought to the idea of bolting.  She was fuming mad at Gabriel.
One of the girls, a brunette with blue eyes and well endowed features, sidled up to Gabriel and linked her arm with his.  “I’m glad you were able to come out tonight, Gabriel,” she purred, “I was worried that I got all dressed up for nothing.”  Sage scanned the area for a garbage can; she was sure she was going to vomit.  Why did he bring her here?  What was the point?  These were the people he wanted her to meet?
The group walked into the bar with Gabriel leading the pack and Sage straggling behind with Jack incessantly chatting in her ear.  The place was packed and there wasn’t a seat to be had, so everyone stood in a huddled group at the end of the bar.  The drinks started flowing and they didn’t seem to stop.  Beer followed by shots followed by more beer and shots.  Jack kept slipping shot glasses into Sage’s hand and urging her to drink.  She obliged for the most part.  Jack relentlessly spewed forth a strain of pick up lines that Sage tried to ignore while nodding at him every few seconds.  It wasn’t too hard to drown Jack out because the house band drowned out pretty much everything.
Gabriel walked up to Jack and Sage with a beer in each hand, “Having a good time?”  Jack roughly put his arm around Sage, “Of course, man!”
“Behave around her, Jack” Gabriel gave him a wink.
Jack pretended to be offended, “I’m nothing if not a gentleman.”
“Sage, Jack’s a good find,” he leaned forward and finished with a whisper, “and he’s majoring in law.”  As if that was the key to Sage’s heart – the prospect of money.
Out of nowhere, Sage noticed a quick change in Gabriel.  His body stiffened and his eyes narrowed.  She could have sworn that she saw his nostrils flare and his head tilt as if he was listening to something she couldn’t hear.
“Gabe?” She looked at him with concern, “Gabe, is everything okay?”
“Huh?  Oh yeah, sorry, I just remembered that I left something back at the lab.”  She could tell he was lying, “Oh well, I’ll just get it tomorrow.  Another round of beers!” he shouted to the bartender before leaning in towards Sage again.  “Stay where I can see you.”
“What?” She was surprised by his statement.
“Just don’t go off by yourself, okay?”  He gave her a serious look.
“Gabe, you’re acting weird.”
“Look, it’s nothing.  I’m just looking out for my favorite girl.” he patted her on the shoulder and offered her his trademark smile.  She weakly offered a smile back.  As he walked back over to the brunette, something caught Sage’s attention.  In one of the back corners of the place, she noticed someone watching her.  He was tall and slim with a beautiful face.  High cheekbones, dark eyes, and his lips were almost blood red.  From first glance, she figured he might have been South East Asian.  He was wearing a dark blue suit jacket over a white shirt and black tie.  For as formal as his upper attire was, he was completely casual from the waist down, sporting ripped jeans and black combat boots.  He gave off a very mysterious vibe.  He noticed her staring back and raised his beer in her direction.  She felt something come over her and she chalked it up to all the drinking.  She excused herself from Jack and headed towards the bathroom.
“Sage, where you going?” Gabe called out, his head peering above the crowd around him.  Sage pointed to the restrooms and he nodded back at her.
Once in the ladies room, she washed her hands and stood in front of the mirror.  What’s wrong with me?  Why do I feel so light headed?  She noticed the weight of her necklace and it felt slightly warm against her skin.  She rubbed the skin under the pendant and reassured herself that she was simply tipsy and should start drinking water.
As she rounded the corner out of the bathroom, Mr. Mysterious was standing outside the door.
“Hey,” he said cooly.
“Um, hi?” Sage replied.  She looked around to see if he was talking to anyone else, “Do you usually hang outside of the ladies room to pick up girls?”
He chuckled, “No, not usually.”
“So…” She waited for an explanation.
Mr. Mysterious just shrugged nonchalantly, “I noticed you at the bar and it seems as if you noticed me too.  If I’m not mistaken, that is.”
Sage felt put on the spot, “Well, you were staring.  It wasn’t exactly easy for me to avoid your gaze.”
“I couldn’t help it.  You’re the most intriguing person in this place.”  He said it in a way that almost made her believe it.
“Intriguing?  You don’t even know me.  The last word I’d use to describe myself is intriguing.”  Her head felt funny.  Was it really the drinks?  She didn’t know at this point.  It was almost as if she was shifting between reality and fantasy.
His voice snapped her back to the present, “I’m Ren, and you are…”
Trying to shake off the haze, she managed to reply, “Sage.”
“Nice to meet you Sage.”  Ren stepped forward into her personal space and Sage instinctively took a step backwards before pressing into the wall.  She watched with wide eyes as Ren raised his hand and gently held her pendant between his fingers.  “Your necklace is lovely.  Is it a flower?”
“Y-yes.” she felt spellbound, “It’s cornus alternifolia, I mean, it’s a type of dogwood flower.”  She felt a blast of heat radiate from her body.  She was so attracted to this guy that she would have gone home with him if he asked.  This reaction scared her.  It was so unlike her usual cautious demeanor.
“Beautiful.” Ren was looking in Sage’s eyes as he said it and she felt another wave of warmth flow over her.  Her head was swirling and she wanted nothing more in that moment than to kiss this beautiful man in front of her.  A tiny voice in the back of her head was yelling at her to snap out of it, but she couldn’t.  The thought of looking away from his lovely face was enough to make her chest ache.
“Sage.  Just as lovely as the flower that blossoms on the evergreen.” She felt Ren hold to the pendant tightly, tugging at it while he leaned in closer promising a kiss.  She felt the leather strap of her necklace pressing hard against the back of her neck until she finally felt it break free.  Ren took a step back, holding the pendant while smirking.
“That’s mine…can I have it back…please?” It was hard for Sage to even get the words out, she felt so dizzy.  Her body reacted strangely to his immediate presence being gone.
“Sure, I’ll give it back.” Ren said, “I just want to make sure of one thing first.”  He leaned against the wall opposite of her and folded his arms.  He seemed to be waiting for something to happen.
“Make sure of wh-” Sage didn’t get an opportunity to finish her sentence.  Her whole body began buzzing with energy and her head began pounding.  She pressed her fingers against her temples and knew something was off.  Her fingers traced the hollow from her temples to her ears.  She continued along the edge until she felt that the rounded part was pointed.  She pulled her hands away from her head and noticed that there was a slight green hue to her skin.  She smelled fragrant flowers and everything seemed sharper somehow.  “Someone must have slipped something into my drink…”  There was no other explanation for it, she was hallucinating for sure.
“So there you are, Asura.” Ren grinned and Sage could have sworn that she saw the hint of a fang behind his lips.
“Who?”  She squinted at him, not understanding what he was saying.
He stepped towards her again with the pendant dangling from his fingers.  “I’ve been looking for you.”

Continue reading

Cuba – Part 1

It’s taken me awhile to get the courage up to write about my trip to Cuba.  A lot of traumatic things happened, but a lot of beautiful things happened, too.  At times my trip was complete bliss, and others I was completely terrified. Here’s my story, in parts, because it’s going to be one of the longest things I’ve written in awhile.  I gots a lots to says.

We arrived, exhausted.  The airport was…something else.  I remember landing in the Bahamas and thinking “how adorably small” about the airport.  This was not adorable. It was small, however.

I stepped off the plane and the humidity and heat hit me right away.  I can only liken it to swimming in water – that is how thick the air was.  It was so strong that I began sweating immediately.

We navigated the tarmac until we hit the airport.  Lots of very serious security and soldiers were patrolling the interior of the…very tiny…airport.  Maybe 30,000 square feet?  Maybe?

When I went through customs, I was worried that my U.S. passport would cause a problem.  Not sure if you’ve heard, but the U.S. and Cuba aren’t exactly on good terms. The only problem I experienced was trying to open the door to leave the customs office with a broken door knob.  I guess it was a fitting introduction for the things to come.

Finally, we found our transport bus (WITH AIR CONDITIONING!!!!) and headed to Holguin (hole-geen – g as in get).

It was pitch black for the most part, with only the occasional street light and the headlights from the bus.  The roads looked old, but they were in really great condition. That’s when I noticed something else – there wasn’t a car on the road except for us.  I stared out the front window for signs of life besides us. One or two cars passed by, but that was it for the entire hour ride.

The resort was beautiful, everything except our room was open air.  Quaint, but a little hot (a lot hot) (and good luck finding a breeze) (by the ocean no less – WHERE WAS THE BREEZE).  

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Our room was very clean and nice. But…the veranda door had no handle and the lock was troublesome. We called the front desk and asked for it to be repaired.  The lady, who spoke limited English, sent a maintenance worker over.

He showed us the trick to the lock.  He didn’t fix it…he basically did the whole “jiggle the toilet handle” maneuver.

When we asked him to replace the lock, he shrugged and shook his head. “No replace. No part.”

Oh. I guess that’s how 4 star resorts roll in Cuba.

The beach was beautiful, the resort was beautiful, the food sucked so hard, that we ended up eating salad and pizza most of the time.  Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a low key foodie. From chicken feet to caviar – I’ll eat it (minus brains and bugs…well maybe a deep fried cricket).  This food…was bland as all get out. Not even salt and pepper could save it. It was so bad that my friend and I were talking about all the places we wanted to eat when we got back home.

On day 2 or 3 of our trip, we decided to take a “taxi” into town.  We opted for the horse drawn carriage instead of an antique ’50s Ford Fairlane.  I know a lot of people are drawn to Cuba to see all these cars. And the antiques are in great condition.  But they’re the only cars on the road, until you get into Holguin, but I’ll touch on that later.

The very charming coachman took us into a very small town called Malilla (Ma-lee-ya).


I had never seen anything like it in person.  A lot of different emotions filled me. Sadness for the state the dirt roads and houses and apartments were in.  The hydro lines were few and far between. I imagine many brown or blackouts occur. I wondered if I had made a mistake by leaving the comfort of the resort to see raw, unfiltered Cuba.

“No, bitch.  You can’t ignore this.  You know you can’t. Now it’s time to open your eyes and experience a 3rd world communist country.”

My inner monologue is a jerk.

The roads were dirt, with the occasional outcropping of old remnants of pavement.  Potholes is an understatement. These roads had eroded severely in places and navigating them by car would be impossible.  It was barely possible for the carriage.

Homes and buildings were in disrepair.  Each apartment building sported fading colors that must have been bright at one time.  Red, blue, green…now just dingy dusty versions of their former self. I saw children leaving school, each one in a uniform.  Small carts filled with produce and pulled by bikes stopped near large groups of people to hopefully sell food.

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On the outskirts of town were the farms.  Farms that were struggling due to a lack of rain on the island. We were taken to a fruit farm. It wasn’t what you’d expect. There were no rows of fruit trees.  Instead there were free growing mangoes, papayas, coconut, and other tropical fruits. It looked more like a forest – with a swamp beside it no less. An old couple ran the farm.  Their house was not much better than a shanty and they couldn’t speak a lick of English, but their warmth conveyed their intentions. The old man took a coconut and hacked off the top with a machete.  Then he carved a hole and dropped a straw in. Fresh coconut milk…amazing. We tried all the fruits they had sliced on the table. It was by far the best moment in Cuba. This is what I came to see: the people and the culture.

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I referred to them as abuelo (grandpa) and abuela (grandma).  They were so charming that I was able to relax surrounded by beautiful scenery.  I speak limited Spanish, so I was able to communicate a bit. A lot of communication was done through arm gestures.  

With many hugs all around, we bade them farewell and moved on to the “zoo”.  The zoo was just a house with exotic animals in cages around the perimeter. The woman who ran the zoo had hutias – if you crossed a guinea pig with a bever, you’d get a hutia.  The hutia are endemic to Cuba. There were other creatures and critters too. Alligator, hawks, pigs, etc. I didn’t like the small spaces they had to live in, but I realized quickly that Cuba doesn’t keep pets.  They keep mousers, guard dogs, or exotic animals to woo tourists.

The one major theme I noticed with the houses is that their kitchen was outside and most “appliances” are handmade.  One woman proudly showed us the coffee maker she made. I was impressed with her ingenuity.


After about two hours in Malilla, we were tired, hot and ready to go back to the resort.  I wouldn’t forget what I saw. Ever. It gave a whole new meaning to poverty. It confirmed that what we’ve seen on TV about 3rd world countries is right.  And it proves that communism doesn’t work. More on that later as well.

So far, I found the Cuban people to be welcoming and kind.  Maybe it was because of the proximity of the resort to the town.  Maybe it was because tourists like me who generously tipped everywhere I went.  When everyone, from doctors to sewage workers, make $24 per month, I’m pretty sure tipping is very welcomed and anyone can apply a smile.  But, there was more to their display of kindness. It wasn’t just an act.

To be continued…

Regarding My Kid:  I Choose “Quality” Time

Liam has his first book presentation next month.  

I’m not a Pinterest mom. My husband is more likely to get creative with making his lunches… (he made a bunch of hotdog octopuses once). I don’t hand sew. I’m not “organic.” My kid eats junk food. I let him play a contact sport. I encourage fart jokes. Right now I’m considering industrial strength ear plugs because I just can’t tune out the cartoon he’s watching over and over anymore…I could tell him to turn it off (because holy crap obnoxious), but it’s Saturday Morning, he’s a kid, and so what?

Where I fail at being Super Mom, I try to make up for in different ways and I hope my son sees that. I hope that someday he will understand why mom just doesn’t want to play right now because she needs her time too. It’s not that I don’t want to play, it’s that sometimes my body won’t let me. Or I just need 5 minutes before I explode over the next 3 hours of non-stop Pokémon trivia. I know a lot about Pokémon now.

Iwake up, and nearly everything I do for the rest of the day revolves around my son in some capacity. So when I say I don’t want to play Pokémon or Mario Kart, it’s not always because I don’t want to. It’s because I picked him up from school, made him a snack while he started on his homework. I answered questions and showed him how you can ask Siri a question if you are stumped. I explained that being resourceful will carry him far in life. A person doesn’t need to be a genius, they just need to be motivated and resourceful. So long as you know how to find an answer…to use the resources at your disposal…you’ll never be able to say you didn’t try your best – even if you don’t find the answer.

After dinner, while Anton was taking care of the dishes, Liam and I sat on the couch and started reading his book assignment together.  

I really don’t want to read a Goosebumps book (even if I loved me some RL Stine back in middle school). But I have to. I have to sit on this couch with him and read along with him and ask him questions about what he just read. I will be following him every step of the way, including being available when he needs help preparing his presentation. Because this is his first book presentation, I want to set a precedent for future presentations so he will be equipped with the resources he needs. So that he feels confident in his work.

So, no…I’m not a Pinterest mom. I wish I was. I have visions of being Donna Reed some days. But that probably will never happen. So I hope when Liam looks back on his childhood, he will realize that I spent quality time over quantity. That even if he wanted to play and I didn’t, I still stayed in the same general area as him so we could still spend time together, even if modified. That I loved him enough to read a really goofy book with him when I’d rather be reading my own.

Being a mom is hard. Especially when you realizing you’re starting to instill a work ethic and practical life applications. I question myself on everything because I am shaping a little human into what I hope will grow up to be good, happy, and successful.

TL;DR: kids, am I right?

Everyone Needs a Ladder


For those of you that may have been following along on Facebook, you know I had a really rough week.  In the past 9 years of being epileptic, this is the worst it’s ever been.  ‘Round the clock auras (feels a bit like falling, mixed with anxiety, and other things I can’t describe due to lack of actual definition).  Up to 9 seizures a day.  I have spent many days this week sleeping for 18 hours on average.  Get up.  Have a seizure.  Lay down.  Wake Up.  Eat.  Facebook.  Have a seizure.  Lay down.  Wake Up.  Get ready to pick up the kid from school.  Have a seizure.  Power through the postictal state.  Get him started on homework.  Snooze.  Wake Up.  Have a seizure.  Take the kid to MMA.  Have a seizure.  Try really hard to keep it together.  Go home.  Crash on the couch.  The rest of the night is much of the same as the morning once the husband gets home.

Living this…half life…is hard.  I am sure there are people out there that have it worse than I do, but that doesn’t mean that my epilepsy impacts me in any less of devastating way on an emotional level.

My seizures live in the part of the brain that deals with “fight or flight” – I bet they light up that area like Christmas.  When I come out of a seizure, I have heightened anxiety.  Later, once I’ve calmed down, I have an aura and my anxiety spikes in anticipation.  More often than not, the elevated stress seems to trigger a seizure.  It’s a big old circular mess.

I stand still like a deer in the headlights.  Everyone around me can see my demeanor has changed.  I may have stopped mid-sentence.  Or maybe I stood still suddenly while walking to the kitchen to get a drink.  When this happens, my husband and son are keyed in.  They are waiting like I am waiting.  Will this aura turn into a seizure?

But my thoughts continue past that…

Will this be the time that something really goes wrong?
Crap, look at my husband’s face…he’s already stressed.
Oh, kidlett…don’t look at me that way.  I already feel guilty that you have to worry.
Here we go…
I hate this. 
Did my husband just ask me a question?
I hate this so much.  Just breathe.
Please, someone get the pets away from me.
Close your eyes.  Everything won’t look weird if you can’t see it.
I wasn’t sitting here a few minutes ago…yay seizures.

As much as my seizures affect my anxiety, it affects my mood in other ways, too.

Namely, depression.

When I think of the amount of responsibilities I put on my husband’s shoulder, it breaks my heart.

When I see my 9 year old son jump to attention every time I sigh or make a small gesture that in most cases would be normal…but I’ve perhaps performed these gestures or movements during a seizure.  He’s hyper vigilant.  We all are.  But it hurts me to see my son on edge.  He is mine to worry for.  He is my satellite heart, living outside my body but always attached.  He’s not supposed to worry about me.  At least not this much.

When I can’t help out with my share of the housework, I feel guilty and worried.  It’s not fair to my husband that he should work full time and come home to cook dinner and clean up a bit because I’m out of commission.

When I have seizure after seizure, I feel so helpless and lost.  Will this be my life forever?

Before I know it I am stuck in a metaphorical pit.  It’s dark.  It’s lonely.  It’s scary.  All I have are my thoughts that like to drag me down until I have no hope left at all.

I want to stop existing.  But I can’t choose that option, because for better or for worse, I have to try for my husband that is trying so hard for me.  I have to try for my son, so that he can see that his mother was strong and persevered.  So he can see that he doesn’t have to worry anymore.

But how can I climb out of this pit?  I can see light when I look up, but I don’t know how to get there.  I can hear my family calling me, but I can’t reach them.  I try jumping.  Screaming.  Anything.  The depression has caught hold of me.

I realized some time along the way that the first thing I needed to do is stop punishing myself for things I cannot control.  I can’t control my seizures.  I can’t control that I can’t always carry my fair share of the responsibilities.  I can’t control that I struggle staying awake and functional after a seizure.

It’s hard.  When you carry around such a burden of guilt for those who are caring for you, it’s hard not to punish yourself and fall deeper into depression.  I still have my moments, but I realized I needed to get out of the pit, no matter how.

I build ladders.

In order to get out of the pit, I build myself a ladder everyday.

Get out of bed – one rung.
Get the kid dressed and ready for school – another rung.
Get out of the house – third rung.
Do a chore – fourth rung.

And so on.

Some days I only make it to one rung.  Most days I can at least get three rungs on my ladder.  And there are some days when I lay at the bottom of that pit, simply too exhausted to summon the courage to build my ladder at all.

I haven’t climbed out of the pit yet.  And I don’t know when I will.  But I know that some days I’m able to build my ladder half way.  I can feel the sun on my face and see my family clearly.

So long as I keep building my ladder, I’ll be okay.  And so long as I have my supportive family, I’ll have a reason to keep building until the pit is far behind me.

When you’re down and out – build a ladder.  One step at a time.  Slowly and gently.  You will climb out of whatever pit you may stumble into so long as you keep building.

My Journey With Epilepsy (Part 2)

I will not be using accurate names or initials for any neurologist I worked with.


I remember my initial meeting with Dr. A, my first of four neurologists.  First impressions really are everything and I was left with a bad one right off the bat.  Honestly, I didn’t feel like she really took me seriously.

When I explained my symptoms, Dr. A looked at me and thought it was “so very interesting” and “definitely not a typical case of Epilepsy.”  She “thought” from my description that I might have Simple Partial Seizures, but I wasn’t a “textbook case” so she sent me for an MRI.

Guess what?  My MRI came back completely normal.  No signs of damage or epilepsy anywhere.  Great.

My follow-up appointment was about as useful as tits on a mule, but I still remained hopeful as she explained that “maybe” it was epilepsy.  She prescribed Topamax and sent me on my way.

Oh the joys of Topamax.  Aside from turning into a bumbling idiot, I also experienced random bouts of my hands and feet falling asleep.  If I became hot, a ton of tiny water blisters would appear on my arms and stomach.  Summer was intolerable.  Working out was intolerable (at one point I tried Crossfit and the heat really made it unbearable).  Apparently Topamax causes weight loss.  Not for me.  What’s worse was that it didn’t slow down my seizures at all.

The next appointment, I explained all my NEW symptoms and she decided to up the dose of the Topamax, despite my complaints about the side effects.  She treated me as if I was a guinea pig and that was the last thing I needed.  I contacted my family doctor and asked for another referral.

A few months later I was sitting in Dr. B’s office.  She came highly recommended and apparently was an epilepsy specialist.  I had renewed hope.

And then the hope went right out the window.

I won’t deny it.  I weighed between 220 and 230 lbs.  But I don’t think the first words out of a Neurologist’s mouth should be “Hmm…you need to lose weight.”  Especially if the Dr. is a portly woman, not too far off from my (then) current weight.

I was too stunned to question her.

Speaking of, I need to back track for a minute.  The time period between seeing Dr. A and Dr. B was difficult.  I wasn’t convinced I had simple partial seizures.  I did a lot of research.  Was it the pre-eclampsia?  When they performed the nerve block before my c-section, did that do something funky that affected my brain in some way?  Hundreds more questions filled my head over that time period.  Could my obesity have caused seizures?  Maybe.  But it’s not like I suddenly got fat when I was pregnant.  I was overweight long before that and never had a seizure.  So what exactly changed to make the seizures happen?

My husband and I kept a seizure diary.  We recorded the days I had the seizures and how often during each day.  We showed this to Dr. B and pointed out that my seizures increased significantly the week before my period.

“I don’t think that has anything to do with it.  Are you sure you aren’t having panic attacks?”

Lord, if I could have reached across her desk and smacked her upside the head, I would have.  I explained to her that I lived with anxiety for a very long time and that panic attacks were familiar to me.  This was not a panic attack.

“I guess they could be non-epileptic seizures.  Or complex partial seizures.”

So now “Simple Partial Seizures” was crossed off the list, and two different types of seizures were added.  Dr. B also upped my dose of Topamax again, completely ignoring the fact that I was experiencing well-known side effects.  Was this the ONLY drug on the market for seizures?

I also had developed a tremor in my left hand.  I showed it to Dr. B and her response was: “That’s not related to your issue.  It’s a red herring.”  That was it.  No attempt to investigate further or help resolve the issue.

There were a couple more visits with Dr. B that were fruitless.  Another MRI.  Lots of EEGs.  Bloodwork and so on.

Dr. B referred me to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU).  I had no idea what that entailed, except that I would be monitored in the hospital for an extended period of time.  Dr. B said the EMU would contact me the moment a bed opened up and they would give me 1-3 days notice.  Lemme tell you how much my job liked that…

“Oh, by the way, I’m going to be needing some time off in the near future for an unspecified amount of days.”

They didn’t say much, but they certainly weren’t happy that I didn’t have any further information than that.  Trust me – this particular situation gets way worse as the story goes on.

Somewhere around this time, Dr. B finally relented and agreed that the Topamax wasn’t working.  She put me on Tegretol.  Holy crap – if I thought Topamax was bad, Tegretol was 10x worse.   It spiked my anxiety to such a degree that I couldn’t get out of bed without being terrified of everything and nothing at the same time.  My husband called Dr. B and advocated for me since she certainly didn’t take my word for anything.  You know what she put me on next?  Topamax.  Seriously.  I guess someone with seizures only has access to 2 types of drugs…but I am digressing.

To give you an idea of where we are in the timeline, it had been about 3-4 years at this point that I had been suffering from seizures.  I was frustrated and tired.  I had already lost one job due to my illness, and while I should have sued the shit out of them, my boss had wads of cash and could hold up the legal process indefinitely.  (Also, I did call quite a few lawyers from here to Toronto…none of them would even talk to me because of “conflict of interest” – seriously…leave some lawyers for the rest of us, you selfish, narcissistic piece of shit.  But really, I’m not bitter.)

The EMU call finally came.  I was settled into my “new” job for a year at that point.  They were aware of my seizures (and were witness to at least half) and I had provided lots of information from my doctor to protect myself.  I gave them 1 day’s notice.  The EMU called on a Friday and I had to be there on Monday.  There was no real scheduling for the EMU.  A bed would open when the team felt like they had enough data and would send a patient home.

Unfortunately, month end was coming up and anyone who has worked closely with a finance department knows that month end is when all hell breaks loose.  So they were one down and others would have to cover my work.  Not a single fuck was given by my employer or coworkers about my health.  They were too angry with *me* personally and not the situation.  I mean, it’s not as if I was doing this just to ruin their monotonous, petty lives.

Do you know what it’s like to work in a place where your health issues are treated as an inconvenience?  Where you can just see your employer chomping at the bit to find a legit way to fire you?  Where you actually round the corner and hear your ENTIRE department talking about you under semi- hushed tones?  Most of you probably do – the workplace sucks more often than not.

I try my best to maintain a solid work ethic.  I felt as if I wasn’t being fair to my employer and coworkers by being sick.  So, I’d work late hours and on the weekend to keep up with my work load and be less of a burden on my peers.  Didn’t matter.

Anyhow, I carried my anxiety and guilt with me as I packed my bags and checked myself into the hospital.

The following 8 days would provide me with a glimmer of hope.  Some justification.  And, because you can’t have the good without the bad, confusion and division among the EMU’s team of neurologists.

-To Be Continued