I woke up in the middle of last night having a ‘ticcing fit’. It was the type in which my muscles become very tight and I can’t move at all. Going from being asleep to waking up rigid in the middle of a painful fit is very unnerving.
Previously when this’s happened I’ve found it very distressing because I’m completely aware of what’s going on but powerless to do anything about it.
Last night though I don’t remember feeling scared. I was much more conscious of my thought process while it was happening than I have been before. Instead of panicking I asked myself a series of questions and gave myself a series of answers:
Q: ‘Right, I’m awake. Am I OK or having a fit?’
A: ‘I’m having a fit.’
Q: ‘Am I face up or face down?’
A: ‘Uh oh, I’m face down.’
Q: ‘How face down am I? Can I breathe?’
A: ‘I can’t breathe easily but there’s a bit of air making it through the pillow.’
Q: ‘Where’s my emergency buzzer?’
A: ‘Phew! It’s strapped to my wrist.’ (Sometimes the answer’s much more alarming: ‘I don’t have a clue’).
Q: ‘Can I move enough to press it?’
A: (Long pause while I experiment with movement) ‘I can move my hand just enough to press the button and raise the alarm.’
Q: ‘Will my night time support worker wake up?’
The answer last night was the sound of a small thud followed by bare feet slapping on the floor as Olive jumped out of bed and whizzed along the corridor to help me.
The whole process probably didn’t take much more than a minute but at the time each step seemed to be part of a long, slow, process. I didn’t feel particularly worried about it, and at some point in the middle of my questions I realised I could trust myself to stay calm and think methodically.
This realisation has had a reassuring effect and I feel a little bit less scared about waking up having a fit than I did before.