a sudden attack of a disease, often characterized by spasms
Finally, he jumped into action—though he’d never seen a
seizure before, he knew what to do.
a clear state of mind
Though I would have moments of
lucidity over the coming weeks, I would never again be the same person.
a cell that is specialized to conduct nerve impulses
The healthy brain is a symphony of 100 billion
neurons, the actions of each individual brain cell harmonizing into a whole that enables thoughts, movements, memories, or even just a sneeze.
But it takes only one
dissonant instrument to mar the cohesion of a symphony.
having an unpleasant sound
When neurons begin to play nonstop, out of tune, and all at once because of disease, trauma, tumor, lack of sleep, or even alcohol withdrawal, the
cacophonous result can be a seizure.
a consequence, especially one that causes complications
ramifications of untreated seizures can include cognitive defects and even death.
relating to or involving the mental process of knowing
The long-term ramifications of untreated seizures can include
cognitive defects and even death.
angered at something unjust or wrong
I was too
incensed to be terrified, and so I lashed out.
a crafty and involved plot to achieve your ends
I was a slave to the
machinations of my aberrant brain.
having or showing arrogant superiority
Stephen held my hand, looking frightened by the
imperiousness in my voice.
tiresomely long; seemingly without end
He stepped into the hallway and waited two
interminably long rings before Allen, my stepfather, picked up the phone.
capable of being perceived
First thing the next morning, while Allen scouted the street for parking, my mom arrived at my apartment door looking sharp, as always. Her frenetic energy, however, was
show, express, or direct through movement
He was animated with his closest loved ones,
gesticulating wildly with his hands and laughing a contagious guffaw; with outsiders, he could be quiet and aloof, to the point of seeming rude.
remote in manner
He was animated with his closest loved ones, gesticulating wildly with his hands and laughing a contagious guffaw; with outsiders, he could be quiet and
aloof, to the point of seeming rude.
look for and gather
Before my seizure, he and my mom had developed a theory
culled from the few things that they knew about my month of strange behavior.
having an abundant supply of money or possessions of value
Summit, named one of the best places to live in America by Money magazine, is an
affluent suburb twenty miles from Manhattan, a haven for WASPs and Wall Street bankers who congregate at the many country clubs within its six square miles.
of or relating to manic depressive illness
“She thinks it’s possible that you’re having a manic episode and that maybe you have
bipolar disorder. Whatever it is, you should see a psychiatrist,” she suggested.
I didn’t understand that doctors usually doubled—even tripled—such numbers because patients often lie about their
impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, or reason
adamant. “No way is Susannah an alcoholic.”
an inspiration or divine manifestation
Later that next night, I had an
epiphany. Forget bipolar disorder: it was the antiseizure medication Keppra.
go at a smooth three-beat gait, of horses
I left once more,
cantering from the family room to the kitchen and then back.
an outward appearance that is deliberately misleading
He had been debriefed by my family about my deteriorating behavior and was on high alert, but he knew that it was important for me to leave the house (because of the threat of seizures, I could not drive a car) and maintain some
semblance of an adult life.
gloomy or depressing
Stephen drove me to nearby Madison, to a
dingy bar called Poor Herbie’s where there was no wait.
solidify, thicken, or come together
When the food came, I could focus only on the greasy french dressing
congealing on Stephen’s corned beef sandwich.
the distinctive property of a complex sound
“Susannah,” Stephen said in a level tone, a
timbre I had never before heard from him.
foul and run-down and repulsive
When I opened my eyes again, we had exited the Holland Tunnel and were entering Chinatown, with its sidewalk fish, swarms of tourists, and fake designer bag salesmen. The whole
sordid scene disgusted me.
habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition
I could be
willful, but he had never seen me be rude.
a deceptive maneuver, especially to avoid capture
This was all a
ruse, set up to punish me for my bad behavior and tell me that I’m suddenly cured.
a large entrance or reception area
My father’s house is an ode to American wars, filled with antiques and memorabilia spanning the Revolutionary War to World War II. He even calls one
anteroom that separates the den from the living room the “war room.”
move or swing back and forth
brandished a piece of red-lined paper that she had prepared.