December 15, 2008
There are really two things going on right now that are taking most of my attention. On one hand, my book will be released in trade paperback on January 6th, followed shortly by new author appearances at a number of locations. For the paperback, I'm trying to focus on independent bookstores and want to visit different parts of the country where so many of you who have asked might actually be able to attend. (I'm looking at you, San Francisco.) Two days after the book release, I'll be at the amazing new Legacy Books here in Plano.
(If you live in the area, you should really come. The store is huge and beautiful and has a liquor license. And as an additional bonus, my lovely friend Monique van den Berg will be there. She's an exceptional and popular writer who was kind enough to contribute study guide questions for the paperback edition of Schuyler's Monster. I suspect that between Monique and Schuyler, I will be the third biggest audience draw to my own signing. I can live with that.)
So that's the week of the paperback release.
The day before the book release, Schuyler has an EEG, to determine if she is having absence seizures.
Okay, so let's talk about the seizures.
The test itself should be interesting. It's called a "Sleep Deprived EEG", and that's exactly what it is. The night before, Schuyler is not allowed to sleep more than four hours (and preferably not at all), which of course means that someone will have to stay up with her. Given my regular insomnia, the job will fall to me. Julie will sleep and be ready to do all the driving (and listening, and thinking, really) the next day, and I will be up with Schuyler all night, probably watching monster movies and whatever else I can think of. When she's a zombie the next day, I'll be there with her, hungering for brains.
The next morning, neurologists will glue little sensors all over Schuyler's head, flash some lights in her face and then send her off to sleep for an hour or so. The idea is that the lack of sleep and the fancy light show will trigger seizures that will then be recorded by the EEG. (Remind me to add Speed Racer to the all-night film line-up; it's one of her favorites, and if anything will trigger seizures, it's that movie.)
The problem with this test is that it can only prove a positive, not provide a conclusive negative. If she has a seizure during that hour or so, then we know she's having them. But if not, all it means is that she didn't have a seizure during that time period. After that, if nothing was seen, I believe the next step is an ambulatory EEG, in which she is wired up to a portable sensor unit like a little laboratory capuchin monkey and sent into the gawking world for twenty-four hours. I have no doubt that Schuyler would love that. She flies her freak flag higher and more proudly than anyone I know.
So that's what's next. If there's a little monster waiting, we will flush it out. Well, I shouldn't be overly dramatic about this. We don't actually know that she's even having absence seizures at all. She turns nine this coming Sunday, after all; there's a condition that that causes an inability to focus that many nine-year-olds suffer from. It's called being nine.
There are people who are very close to Schuyler and should know better who are perhaps in bit of denial about the possibility that she's having seizures. I understand that impulse, I understand it completely; I'm fighting it myself. There's a numbers reality here, however. We've known for five years that Schuyler had a ninety percent chance of developing seizures, and ninety percent is pretty high.
That means that in a world population of -- what, almost seven billion people? -- there are maybe a thousand that suffer from bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria. So really, what we're hoping for is that Schuyler is going to randomly join a group of about a hundred people in all the world, the ones with BPP but no seizures.
I'd love to think that could happen, and it absolutely can, but still, you know? Julie and I talked about this the other night, and we were a little surprised to find that both of us had a secret, shameful wish. We both confessed, almost in a jinxy, simultaneous way, that we were both sort of hoping, maybe just a little, that Schuyler's EEG comes back positive.
I know, that sounds wrong. It feels wrong, really, but there's a harsh reality behind that wish. If Schuyler's EEG comes back negative, and the subsequent battery of tests also show that she's not having absence seizures but is just a spacey little kid, that's good news. It means she still has a chance to be one of that hundred.
But if you are willing and you are capable of looking the statistical reality in the face, then what a negative EEG most likely means for Schuyler, and for us, is a return to the waiting game. In my head, I envision us grabbing a magazine and the tv remote, scooting our cool red couch back under the swinging Sword of Damocles and sitting again. Waiting.
If that monster is coming, we're tired of waiting for it. Get your ass here already so we can go to work.