You know that dream where you realize you are naked or nearly naked in a public place… where all of a sudden you look down at yourself and you are wearing your pajama top and tiny boxers and you are barefoot walking down a long hallway in a large hotel with no idea why you are there.
Here’s the thing, it happened to me and it wasn’t a dream.
I have epilepsy, with tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures on awakening. That makes it sound as if I have a seizure every time I wake up, but I don’t. I have had about a total of 30 seizures in the past 26 years.
Now back to me, barefoot, walking along a hotel hall, at six in the morning.
Where am I? Umm a hotel, I think? Yes. What hotel? Where? Why? San Francisco, yes. I gotta get back to the room. But what room number? And where in the hotel am I?
I am walking along the deserted (and starting to feel rather eerie) hallway, and I am having a jamais vu. This hall that I walked down eight hours ago is now completely foreign to me. I just have to find the front desk. But what will I say to them?
How can one be panicked and absolutely calm at the same time? Endorphins? The sensation of hotel carpet is both good and terribly wrong on my bare feet. I am just starting to feel slightly cold with my legs bare and yet the cool air feels invigorating against my skin.
I think I am heading the right way to the front desk. When I arrive in the lobby I find the lights too bright and the marble floor is cold against my bare feet. I am slightly unsteady on my feet but walk forward towards the front desk. My sense of self is elusive and wavering just out of reach. I remember the room isn’t even in my name. Then in a flash I remember the important details and pure instinct takes over.
I say to the desk attendant, “I forgot my room number. The room is under my friend Joelle’s name but she added me to the reservation. She is in the hospital and was supposed to come back to hotel with us after surgery but she had to stay over night and now her daughter is in the room by herself.”
The clerk says nothing as he looks up the details and just hands me a new key and tells me the room number. I breathe a sigh of relief. My self awareness is back, and with a small amount of dignity, I turn to walk back towards the way I had come. Following some inner compass now guiding me tentatively in the direction of our room.
I must have had a seizure. Again the sheer devastation at the realization that I had another seizure and at the same time the calm acceptance.