How a seizure robbed my partner of his memory of everything, including me


It’s been 13 days since my partner sleepwalked – head first – into my kitchen window, shattering one of the panes. It’s been 13 days since I watched in naive disbelief as my partner had a seizure in our living room. It’s been 13 days since I found my partner wandering lost and confused at 5:30 a.m. in the streets of Ypsilanti, MI.

It’s been 13 days since my partner forgot every place, person and thing he’d ever known. Much to my dismay, that includes the past eight months we’ve spent loving each other and growing together.

When it first happened, I was in shock. When the ambulance took him away – after walking into my home without permission and leaving without informing me on what was happening – I still was questioning everything I saw that morning.

I wondered if it was my fault. Should I have called 911 when he wouldn’t wake up from what appeared to be a vivid dream? Should I have lain back down in the bedroom after I started to wonder if his movements looked more like convulsions than pantomimed running?

Considering that “seizure” was the first diagnosis I heard when I arrived at his ER exam room, the answer seems to be yes.

I arrived at the hospital before he’d returned from an X-ray. When he saw me, he flinched. He said he trusted me because I was the first person he saw after losing his memory, but he didn’t know me. I made him anxious.

I’d basically shared a house with this man for the past seven months – and actually for four. I’d hugged this man through manic episodes, hangovers and hours in the sheets. I’d loved this man from a place of mental distress to a place of peace.

I’d fallen in love with this man, and he with me. We’d made a life together. In a four-hour blur of fear and confusion, that life became nothing more than a few JPEG images and text on a floundering sexual lifestyle website.

Sure, I had my memories and hope that he’d come back to me. Unfortunately for my heart, there was no guarantee that would ever happen. There wasn’t any guarantee he’d even grow to like me again, if his memory never returned.

After a six-hour stay in the ER, he was admitted to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. I stayed with him through the night.

At work the next day and for the duration of his three-day, two-night, all-expenses-paid stay – thank you, Obama – I held it together.

After navigating the choppy waters with his racist, classist, homophobic, Fox News family; after explaining things like pizza, electricity and calming his fears after defecating for the first time after the seizure; and after being dropped off at home by his grandmother and mother, that’s when I fell apart. That’s when I cried and cried and cried and chain smoked and cried.

I’m not normally a person who cries, but it felt so good to get out all that tension. It felt so good to sob and scream and thrash and curse. Sometimes, even a stoic Dom-type like me has to curl in a ball for a while.

I loved this man, and he had no idea who I was. He didn’t love me anymore.

The man I knew was gone.

As days passed, the cloud of confusion started lifting slowly. On his third day in the hospital, he regained his first memory: “Animaniacs.” On day five he remembered Salvador Dali, the T.A.R.D.I.S. and a fact about a friend. On day 11 he remembered something about me.

“He’s coming back to me,” I thought with a smile.

Today, day 13, he woke up after a three-hour nap and remembered how to spell and write. He also told me, “I love being your puppy and your assistant. It completes me.”

He’s falling in love with me again.

I was so scared. I know it was only 13 days, but I was in a daze that made time slow to a crawl.

For the first time in 13 days, I feel like I can breathe. He still has a long way to go, but my man, lover, partner, puppy, Bubby, Bear, Babar … he came back to me. He actually came back to me, and that’s as good a reason as any to smile. 

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