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When My Son’s Seizure Brought Sudden Changes in Our Lives

From the second my son, Adam, took his first breath, I had this feeling deep in my gut that raising this child would be a different experience than with my two older children. My intuition was on high alert. To this day, I still can’t explain it.

Never in a million years did I imagine I would raise a child who’s on the autism spectrum, and has a seizure disorder. Adam’s journey has changed who I am. It has changed who my husband, Chris, is. It has changed who my two older children are. It has changed us as a family. I think anyone who has experienced a crisis with a child will agree. It’s life-altering, life-changing and, most of the time, happens suddenly.

A hair salon honored Kimberly Ketcham's son, Adam, and individuals like him by raising money to support autism research.
A hair salon honored Kimberly Ketcham’s son, Adam, and individuals like him by raising money to support autism research.

During one Saturday in January 2010, I had just brought Adam home from tae kwon do. As I was making lunch, he suddenly started speaking gibberish, his eyes rolled back and he vomited.

Suddenly, the paramedics rushed him to the hospital because he was having a seizure.

Suddenly, I realized the doctors and nurses were cutting off his beloved tae kwon do uniform and rapidly hooking him up to every machine imaginable.

Suddenly, I noticed the ER doctor pacing and shouting orders as I was told Adam’s seizure was continuing — 40 minutes after our arrival at the hospital.

Suddenly, I was at Adam’s side, pleading with God to let me have more time with my son.

Then suddenly, the seizure was over.

Suddenly, I noticed my son was straddled on a gurney as we were whisked to a CT scan in search of what caused the seizure.

Suddenly, a nurse was waving consent forms in my face as she rattled off the possibility of a brain tumor, an aneurysm and a number of other frightening conditions that never, ever, entered my mind.

And suddenly, I found myself in the front seat of an ambulance, a wall of glass dividing Adam and me, as a nurse delivered deliberate ventilations during the entire 30-minute ride to the children’s hospital.

Suddenly, I realized his life was in their hands.

Suddenly, I felt completely helpless as I watched him lying in bed with machines keeping him alive.

Then suddenly, a friend posing as my “sister” talked her way into the ICU for no other reason than just to be by my side.

Suddenly, after speaking two hours with our neurologist, we finally had a diagnosis after five years of searching.

Suddenly, I felt nothing but relief. I was grateful my longtime suspicions were finally confirmed.

Suddenly, nothing else in the world mattered, except walking out of that hospital with Adam.

Suddenly, life as we knew it had changed, and in some ways, it was completely the same.

Suddenly, our lives were dictated by speech, occupational and behavioral therapy appointments. Not to mention intense tutoring sessions.

Suddenly, I realized the things we take for granted are the most difficult tasks for Adam to master.

Suddenly, I realized every baby step Adam tackles is actually a huge victory.

Suddenly, I found myself agreeing with teachers and then adamantly disagreeing with them.

Suddenly, I found myself researching, educating and advocating. This part never ends.

Suddenly, I found myself crying and laughing all in the same moment.

Suddenly, I felt hopeless. Suddenly, I felt hopeful. Then I felt hopeless then hopeful again.

Suddenly, longtime friends felt like distant strangers.

Suddenly, distant strangers became my best friends.

And suddenly, an entire hair salon selflessly honored my son and individuals just like him by raising money to support autism research.

Suddenly, I realized that in his 12 short years, Adam has taught me so much about love, hope, compassion, perseverance, bravery and patience.

Suddenly, I had perspective.

Follow this journey on Tales From the Butt.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing you want to make sure the special needs mom in your life knows? If you are the special needs mom, challenge a loved one to respond to this! If you’d like to participate, please check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.