Fortify the Home, Contain a Wanderer: How to Sleep Better at Night

After a scary incident a few nights ago, my husband and I are finally in the process of doing what we’ve said that we would for the past I-don’t-know-how-many months/years: fortifying the exit from our apartment with a high-tech (to me, at least) door alarm and with a low-tech but extra-tall baby gate.

Since the safety devices have not yet arrived, I’m recycling this picture of our staircase to illustrate why Seizure Me shouldn’t be navigating the stairs on her own. I hope that why she shouldn’t go for a postictal stroll is self-evident.

These provisions are, of course, meant to keep us (me) in rather than potential intruders out. We live in a city that’s remarkably safe, as far as big cities go, and we celebrate its safety statistics by not questioning them.

However, Seizure Me—my postictal alter ego, in case the clear wasn’t clear—has been known to make a beeline for the door while still confused after seizures, and containing her has been an ongoing problem that’s twofold: first is the more obvious issue of Seizure Me leaving the apartment, thus the alarm that will alert my/her husband when she passes the threshold; second, that the door is at the bottom of a steep set of stairs that we don’t want her to tumble down, hence the baby gate to be placed at the top of the staircase to try to prevent her from getting to it at all.

These are, of course, measures that would’ve come in handy many of the times that SM tried to go for a post-seizure outdoors walk this past year. Although my husband usually hears SM heading for the stairs and manages to circumvent her, then gently guiding her to safety, on occasion she’s managed to slip out the door undetected. I’ll go ahead and state the obvious here: a postictal person with a seizure disorder and recent brain damage who can’t remember her name, let alone to bring her mobility device or, sometimes, to put on shoes, ideally shouldn’t be wandering the streets of Toronto alone, even if its crime stats put other North American cities of its size to shame. (Not going to let that go. And yes, I realize that there are probably more immediate threats to SM’s safety when she’s out on her own, such as cars, than stray bullets.)¹

We brainstormed potential solutions to SM’s wandering for much too long, and even consulted an expert (my current occupational therapist, who, though very helpful in many departments, was kind of useless in this one), before settling on this plan of action. We then procrastinated for weeks before implementing it. Indeed, it took SM fleeing while her/my husband was doing the dishes, making it a terrifyingly impressive distance before regaining real awareness of her surroundings and identity, for us to stop being idiots and purchase the alarm system and extra-tall baby gate—for extra-tall babies?—on Amazon. Everything should arrive and be set up within the next few days.

I suspect that my husband and I will both sleep better at night once Seizure Me lives in a jail designed with her individual needs in mind.





¹ In a rare wish for semi-privacy, I don’t feel like expanding further on Seizure Me’s escapes, as I originally planned to do. You can thus use your imagination to fill in any gaps/envision specific incidents, besides the one I’ll describe in the next paragraph.


One thought on “Fortify the Home, Contain a Wanderer: How to Sleep Better at Night

  1. Onward and upward—but not outward. We will come to you. You guys are doing the right and safe thing for SM. I’m sorry it’s been difficult and scary. It’s gonna be better and easier for you guys with this. Your quality of life is improving day by day ❤

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