By Wayne Chan
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Apparently, vanity has no limits. Unfortunately, this is what I’ve discovered about myself.
Let me explain, and I have to start off with some bad news first.
About two months ago, while I was asleep, I suffered a seizure. I know this, because in the middle of the night, I woke up in bed with two paramedics standing over me telling me they were going to take me to the hospital.
I believe my first reaction was, “Why do I have to go to the hospital? Where is my wife? Why are you two guys in my bedroom in the middle of the night?”
After they explained that I had had a seizure, and particularly because I felt awful as a result of it, I thought it best to let them take me to the hospital. It’s good that I felt that way because at the time I didn’t seem to have much say in the matter.
My wife Maya kept me company in the ambulance, and for the next few hours in the hospital, I was poked and prodded any number of ways by nurses trying to figure out what happened to me. In the end, I was told that it was likely a singular event but that I would have to get an MRI to inspect my brain and make sure there wasn’t anything they needed to worry about.
The only problem with this was that the doctor told me that according to policy, anyone who suffers a seizure must have it reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and you automatically lose your driving privileges until you have an MRI and your doctor and the DMV approve you to drive again.
So, for the first time since I was 15 years old, I was grounded. I couldn’t go anywhere unless my wife could drive me or if I could bum a ride off of one of my friends or neighbors.
Now, with plenty of time on my hands, I started doing some research to better understand some of the potential reasons why people have seizures in the first place. As I soon discovered, a number of things seemed to make sense.
The most common causes for seizures? Stress and lack of sleep.
Stress? The day of my seizure, I had been planning and hosting my uncle’s memorial service. I did a eulogy, drove out-of-town guests to the service, and attended to the meal afterwards. Check.
Lack of sleep? For the last four months, as my uncle’s health was deteriorating, my brother and I spent many days figuring out ways to keep him comfortable. Check.
In any case, if I was going to get my driving privileges back, I was going to have to get an MRI.
For those of you who have never had an MRI, how best to describe it?
It’s as if you’re beans and rice, you’re being wrapped up in a flour tortilla, and then placed in a wrapper. For half an hour, I’m lying on a gurney, wrapped in blankets and pillows with a mask on my face, and I’m placed snugly into a tunnel contraption that seems best suited for, well, a human burrito.
Fortunately, no one was going to douse me in salsa and guacamole afterwards.
A week passes, and not having heard back from the doctor, I give him a call.
The bottom line—it was good news. My brain function is fine.
But here’s where the vanity part comes in.
After caring for a sick family member, after mourning his passing, after organizing his memorial service and respecting his memory for the closest friends and family, and after suffering a seizure and losing my driving rights, upon hearing the good news that I was OK, you’d think I’d be elated, jumping for joy, and thankful that the future looked bright, right? Not exactly.
It wasn’t that he told me that I was going to be alright. It was HOW he told me.
I believe his exact words were, “It’s good news, Wayne. Your brain function is fine…for someone of your age.”
“WHAT THE @#!%* IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?” I didn’t actually say that, but I was sure thinking it.
What he was trying to say was that while there were some changes he could see with my brain, it was something that everyone my age would have, but that I was perfectly fine.
My question is, if I’m perfectly fine, why couldn’t he just tell me I was perfectly fine without adding the “…for someone of your age” baloney? Because in my mind, I translated his words to: “You’ve got some level of brain function right now, but at your age, who knows how much time you have left before your mind goes kablouey.”
I probably shouldn’t share that with him or he might want to put me back in the burrito chamber again.
Wayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.