Seizure, Coma, Death

by Elizabeth

Jonathan and a friend, on his last day at the hospital.

Jonathan and a friend, on his last day at the hospital.

Seizure, coma, death: the end process of all diseases. My husband Jonathan discovered the end results of disease in nursing school, where one of his instructors made the phrase seizure, coma, death somewhat of a joke. Me? All I had to do was be born the harm-avoidant, overreacting hypochondriac that I am. I can extrapolate any symptom or situation all the way to end-of-life processes. And I don’t need the help of nursing school to do that; I can do it all by my lonesome self.

Seizure, coma, death: it’s the place I always go. For me, the worst option is always the first option. Case in point?

While on vacation last month, I watched our four children wrestle Jonathan in the pool. Then a nameless someone (nameless because I don’t remember who, and even if I did, I wouldn’t announce it publicly) took one of our foam water guns and shot a stream of water quite forcefully into Jonathan’s eye. Immediately Jonathan ordered everyone to take a break, and he moved to the side of the pool.

I asked if he was ok. No, scratch that. What I actually said to him was this: “I don’t want you to go blind like that girl in Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.” The movie, in case you aren’t familiar with it, tells the story of a girl who jumped from a high platform into a pool of water with her eyes still open. The impact damaged her retinas, and she later lost her sight. (Thank you, Disney Channel, for instilling in people a lifelong fear of blindness ever since the early 1990’s.)

Jonathan replied to my irrational comment with, “You’re a lot of help! You thought I had the plague last week.” Yes, it’s true. The week before, he had a nasty rash that we couldn’t identify. It could have been folliculitis, or scabies, or an allergic reaction. Initially, the doctor himself was unsure. But how did I contribute to the medical quandary? I told him he might have bubonic plague. Turns out, that rash was just a simple allergic reaction that cleared up with several doses of Benadryl and a slathering of hydrocortisone. No scabies, no bacteria — and certainly no plague.

My husband is right. I’m not a lot of help in these types of situations. I freak out internally. I become irrational. This much is plain: it’s a miracle I can even function with all these hypochondriac thoughts swimming around in my head.

I thought back to earlier that day when ocean water went up Nathaniel’s nose. I had managed to ask, nonchalantly, if he was ok. But internally I was thinking, “Oh no, he’s going to die! There’s some sort of bacteria or fungus in this water that is going to travel from his nose, to his brain, and I will lose my first-born child. I’m not ready for him to die! I won’t have the strength to go on living and homeschooling the rest of my children if my first baby is dead.” (Yes, those are real thoughts. I really do have thoughts like that.)

So back in the pool, I left Jonathan alone to rest his eye. Then suddenly I started laughing. Hysterically. He asked me what I was laughing about, and I told him, “Seizure, coma, death! I always go to seizure, coma, death!”

Then he told me, “Just keep your crazy thoughts to yourself. Don’t say them; they’re not helpful.” But I protested, “I HAVE to say them out loud. Otherwise I won’t recognize them for the ridiculousness that they are. As soon as I say them, I can let them go.” (Cue Frozen’s theme song. Let them go! Let them go! I won’t hold them back anymoooooooooooore!)

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Seizure, coma, death. Do you know what it’s like to realize you’re still a bit crazy about health things? Functional, yes, but still crazy. It’s a little awkward. Need more proof?

—  If my pre-schooler is up in the night crying that her leg hurts, I worry that she will die from a blood clot. (Because 4 year olds get DVTs, right?)

— If my kids are wrestling and the little one cries that her chest hurts, I worry that her ribs must be cracked. We need to go to the hospital for X-rays right now!

— If my part-time helper has an extended cold, I worry that she has tuberculosis and we will catch it. What if it’s multidrug resistant??

Yes, these are real thoughts. They are not lasting thoughts, but they are my first thoughts. They are no longer obsessive, but they still exist. Let’s face it: I’m a seizure, coma, death kind of girl. And you might be too. So don’t leave a girl alone in the comments, share some seizure, coma, death thoughts of your own.


**Jonathan has since given me permission to voice my fears, as long as I give him permission to laugh at said fears.**

20 thoughts on “Seizure, Coma, Death

  1. My thoughts generally are not catastrophic – however, I do want to know how the details will be managed.MBTI ISTJ (introvert sensing thinking judging).

  2. WoW! I read this w/sense of awe Elizabeth. I have an even greater feeling of respect towards you, that you could fully follow Gods calling in the midst of a germ filled Cambodia. You ROCK!! And you give me inspiration to follow Him, no matter the cost, here in good ‘ole USA. As for me? No, no worries. I could use a dose because twice in last 18months I let what I thought was a cold (which was pneumonia BOTH times) go far to long-nrly needing to be hospitalized BOTH times b4 I ever sought med assistance!! Seizure, coma, death. I’ll try to remember that!!

    • Oh Pam, I laughed so hard at this comment! I can’t even imagine being the opposite and not getting help when I really needed to! Thank you for sharing that — we can all laugh at each other together 🙂 Though I hope this coming winter is not as bad for you health-wise. Blessings.

  3. I’m the best of both worlds…RN and “seizure, coma, death” girl…! Lol It’s a miracle that I function very calmly in my work…I guess the worry drama is pretty much saved for myself & the family. Perhaps I’ve reformed a bit…it’s been a REALLLLY long time since I thought that a lingering upper respiratory infection might be “hanta virus”. My hubby graciously calls me “bordering on Hypochondria or mild hypochodria” but if they ONLY knew some of the thoughts that DO run through my head on first instinct!!! Hey, we’re supposed to be the watchers, the protectors of our families, right??

    • Hanta virus?? I used to worry about that too!! The fact that we share that cracked me up! And I love the fact that you reference Anne of Green Gables too — “if you only knew the things I want to say and don’t, you’d give me some credit.” Slightly altered situation, but still applicable (it’s my own personal belief that something from Anne can always apply to any aspect of life). It truly is a miracle we hypochondriacs can function! Thank you for warming my heart with this comment 🙂

  4. I did this about pregnancy before I was even pregnant. Worry, worry, worst case scenario. We laugh about it now, but Ryan had to reassure me “Even if our child is born with dolphin flippers, I will still love it”.

  5. We’ve been watching Season 1 of House and it takes him at least 4 tries to diagnose anything and the patient nearly dies in each episode before the team figures it out. Oh wait, that’s probably not helpful. 😉 As my husband says, we all die sometime… but when it comes to my kids…! I’m not the hypochondriac so much as the harm-avoidant type (although I hate it when people try to share their food or drinks with my kids). Thankfully, my husband balances me out well and helps me overcome a lot of that. And I loved the “Wild Hearts” reference. That was one of my favorite movies once upon a time.

    • Oh yes, House. The show can suck you in, but is not good for the hypochondriacs among us. In that show, the worst option is actually the right option! I’ve watched it when my husband was out of town, because medical dramas are so addictive. I was lonely, but that was probably not a good plan! I think the plague was part of one of the storylines, so that may be where I came up with that possibility for my husband’s rash. Silly me. Glad to know you loved Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken, too 🙂

  6. Hehe this made me laugh…recently the kids who live below us had dengue. I seriously planned out in my head what we would do if Declan got it too and it developed into hemorrhagic and he needed to be life flighted to bangkok…needless to say, God reminded me of casting my anxiety on him. I need those reminders!

    • I can definitely relate to this story! My fears are always the most obsessive when relating to pregnancy, birth, and babyhood. I’m so glad we got to meet up in person before you moved 🙂 Many, many blessings on your transition back to KC. I’m glad we can still keep in touch through FB and blogging!

  7. Elizabeth, really, I am sitting here thinking, how is she able to live in Cambodia! I feel like you are in my head, expressing all my same thoughts, and I love Cambodia, but I always think, how would I ever survive there with all my kids and not become unglued? Way too many conjunctions in that sentence. I’m telling you, I think we are kindred spirits (yes, Anne; I even have a Cordelia!). Let’s try to do a Skype/facetime chat sometime!

  8. This makes me laugh! My brother-in-law is the absolute most able to deal with things person . . . unless it involves medical things with himself. Has been known to say to my sister, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I think I have a brain tumor.” When what he could more accurately say is, “I have a headache.” 🙂

  9. Me too! I’m a nurse and a hypochondriac! I quickly learned in nursing school that EVERYTHING ends (or can end) in seizure, coma, death… Now, my brain always goes there. I can follow an illness (or simple symptom) to that end in seconds. So I also do a little freak out at each accident/sickness/symptom.

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