Getting Down to It

Disclaimer: Tapering off antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) always raises the risk of seizures. Because of the many risks associated with it, tapering should only be done under doctor supervision. While the writer is sharing her personal experience for the purpose of this story, she in no way condones this risky behavior or encourages others to follow her example. She recognizes that seizures are different for everyone and believes great care should be taken to prevent them.

It was just an experiment. Seemed more an imaginary test than anything I was doing in real life. But every two weeks, I’d drop another dose. After a while, I realized I’d dropped 100 milligrams. Then 150. As time went on it became more confounding. And it started getting real. 

Halloween passed. The accident. Surgery. Christmas. Through it all, no seizure, no aura, no nothing. One part emboldened, another part baffled. That’s how it went. With each drop I felt lighter, more awestruck. For a minute, I was a teenager again, feeling my stomach rise over the cherry bump on the hill. The one out by the Polo Fields where we used to go. 

At the start, tapering down felt as freeing as that. The little belly rise. On the last day of every drop, I’d acknowledge that I’d made it through. The recognition always found its way to my eyes, and it lingered there as if to say, “Well I’ll be darned.”

As the doses got lower, I squirmed more and more. Just because I launched the experiment doesn’t mean I expected it to succeed. Operating solely on intuition, I didn’t know what to expect. Looking down the open road, I yearned for taillights ahead. There weren’t any. I had only to trust myself. It was too much to ask.

While I marveled at the results over a period of four months, dropping down became unsustainable. I was straddling a boundary I feared to cross, and it made for an awkward stance. One foot firmly planted in conviction. The other stuck in a quicksand of doubt. 

That’s the story. It’s the old power struggle between faith and fear. Faith was winning, it was really winning. Fear came from behind in the photo finish. It always does.

I got down to 200 milligrams from 450, took it all in. At that dose, the negative thoughts disappeared. I hung out there for a while, sized it up. It wasn’t a bad place to be. So I stayed. 

Sometimes I wonder, what if I had kept going?