Saturday, 10 November 2007

Will you be in for dinner?

Life, said John Lennon, is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Seems true enough today at least.

The scene: the Kennedy Family kitchen. Richard and Margaret are sitting at the bench on stools talking, I am in the kitchen doing stuff for lunch and dinner. I had observed to Richard that he looked very tired. He said he had felt 'funny' all morning. "A headache?" "No, just a funny feeling".

I am putting some frozen prawns out on a tray to defrost and ask "Will you be in for dinner?" This is a regular question to assist with aligning the kitchen staff's agenda with Richard's social agenda.

No answer. But is a sort of odd no answer, as if the universe is not quite right.

I look up and Richard has a most strange expression. Every muscle in his face is taut like twisted ropes, his eyes are looking nowhere in particular. Instinctively I race around the bench, happily fast enough to cradle his head in my hands as he falls to the floor. Margaret, sitting beside him, had no chance of stopping him falling.

For what seems an eternity but was probably only about a minute or so, Richard convulses on the floor, seemingly every muscle in his body intent on the maximum contraction. I cradle his head in my hand to stop it banging on the floor but can do little else. A little blood comes from his mouth; I suspect he bit his tongue. The seizure stops and, mercifully, Richard starts breathing.

Margaret, in the meantime, has called 000, the local emergency number, and an ambulance is on its way. She relays breathing rates and such like to the operator.

The rest of the afternoon is one of extreme tedium, the sort that always goes with sitting around hospital emergency wards. Blood tests, CAT scans, x-rays, and large slabs of nothing, waiting for results.

More tests are due to be done next week but we still don't know what triggered the seizure.

He is home, after eight hours at the hospital. He is sleeping.

Every so often Margaret goes in to listen to his breathing.


Memo to Richard: Next time I ask
"Will you be in for dinner?", a simple "no" with be just fine.


  1. My heart goes out to you and Margaret tonight... life is never the same for parents after a scare like this. I have had a bit of experience with those "large slabs of nothing" and the zombie-state induced by emergency rooms... but there are always moments of gratitude. Even just for how beautiful your kids are, how priceless and precious.

  2. OMG, what a terrible thing to have happen! Let us know what they find (if you don't mind). I agree that a simple 'yes' or 'no' would have been much preferable.

  3. Frightening stuff, Lee. Let's hope this will be a one-off.

  4. How terrifying for you all. It is so lucky you realised he was about to fall.
    I hope they can find out the cause, & take steps to remedy whatever it might be.

  5. Oh goodness! That sounds very frightening. I hope you can find out what's going on and take care of it.

  6. So sorry to hear this. Luckily you guys are there for him. Let us know what the outcomes..and wishing he's well soon here.

  7. read the previous post and all the things listed. Maybe it is best to not ask such questions ... ie... now that the exams are done what to do??? Glad to hear you are so quick on your feet and a hug to you and your family...and hoping that Richard is feeling better soon.

  8. Thank you all for your kind wishes. Richard seems to be OK today. It was an act of both great faith on Margaret's part and something of a 'get back on the trapeze' act that meant Margaret and I went off on a planned for march against climate warming. I think every bone in Margaret's body wanted to stay within a short distance of Richard.

  9. how frightening!

    a very similar incident happened to my ex husband on our oldest child's 3rd birthday ... i walked into the kitchen where he was supposed to be feeding the child, and he was lying on the floor, glasses knocked off, blood from his nose ...

    i thought, geesh that kid must have quite a punch ...

    actually i was terrified and called emergency services immediately - which sent out police, firetruck / emt, and an ambulance.

    10 minutes later under my watchful eye, he had another one in our bathroom ...

    multitudes of tests and 12 years later: no one still knows what happened or why !!!

  10. OMG, funny but poignant. Hope yr. "baby" is fine. I say baby bec. yr. wife listening to his breathing reminds me of doing that when my son was a baby. Also reminds me of a baby book- I'll love you forever and a repeating line in it, "for long as i'm living, my baby you'll be."

  11. so do you know yet what caused the seizure and what to do about it? How frightening but thank goodness you two were there with him

  12. lee, how terrifying! I hope this is one of those mysteries that never repeats and has "no reason." my thoughts are with you and Margaret.

  13. jiminy christmas! please have some virtual hugs from me and spread them around to margaret and richard.

    keep us posted too!

    i certainly hope it was just a one time thing and that you'll never serve prawns again. ;)

    more hugs and squishes...

  14. Frightening time Lee ... I hope Richard is recovering and that it was, indeed, a once-off.

  15. Hoping you're all well tonight.

  16. I'm so glad you guys were there for him. What great parents to have to look after and guard over you.

    My sister had 2 seizures once as a child, one in my presence, it's very scary but if you know what to do and expect then you stress less. They never found the cause and up and until today it never returned.
    You and Margaret seems to have done just right, there is not much more you could have done.
    All the best to you all in the nervous wait. Ask R afterwards if he had a funny taste in his mouth, I have heard many times people had and in future would be able to tell if it's gonna happen again.

    BTW: Happy National Psychology Week!!

  17. Lee, I am aghast! My eldest had a seizure aged 15, sitting on the floor in front of the TV, entering locomotive numbers in his train spotter's notebook, after we had just returned from holiday. We had recently moved and only just registered with a new doctor. The seizure was over when he arrived, and he was soothing and reassuring, and did not send the boy to hospital. And more than 30 years on there has been no recurrence. My husband called to me in the kitchen when it started and by the sound of his voice I knew he was scared - something I have never otherwise known him to be. I shall be thinking of you all.


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