In my 25 Earthling years of existence I have learned a lot, yet very few certainties other than this: things can always get weirder. My law-school educated parents moved me from St. Louis to a lizard-infested house on an island in the Caribbean to escape “Reagan’s America.” I was just an infant, but my new environs were different than what I left behind. Every time we needed groceries, we had to take a little boat to another island. Whether my move to the tropics presaged my lifetime of oddity is unclear, but signs appeared early. In 1995 Hurricane Marilyn destroyed our home, leaving my family buried in rubble for the neighbors to dig out. We lived homeless for a week relying on the kindness of those who still had some form of shelter. People looted and wore fur coats meant for sale to the tourists because their clothes had been blown away. When I was three a rastaman plucked me up and threw me over his shoulder and ran away with me, laughing hysterically as my poor mother, eight-months pregnant with my sister and carrying groceries, tried to chase after him and rescue me. They found me later all “whatever” in an alley with thankfully no sign of harm.
I joke that having me as a patient must have put my shrink on anti-anxiety meds himself, because my calls to him are never, “my boyfriend broke up with me, sniff, sniff,” but rather, “Hey you know that YouTube homeless guy I know I spoke about last session…well check the news he allegedly bludgeoned someone to death and is on the run.” (No further comment on that matter at this time.) My latest call to my shrink was to ask about the fact that I’ve been randomly going momentarily completely blind for 5-10 second intervals. He said, “Yeah, that’s not normal. Please go see a neurologist immediately.” So I did.
This Saturday, I used ZocDoc to make an appointment with a neurologist with a four-and-a-half star rating. His office was deep in Brooklyn, like Yo Momma’s used-up pussy deep, but that didn’t faze me because when you grow up being part of the ten percent white population you become more comfortable among people of color than you do on Park Avenue surrounded by white people. I got there, and after the basic doctor/patient introduction (you know, being told I’m either utterly insane and manifesting these blindness episodes or I could have a brain tumor) the doctor left me with a technician who hooked me up to an EEG. If you’ve never had an EEG, they basically strap you down and cover your scalp in goo then put a helmet covered in electrodes on you. I was told it would take 60 minutes and to close my eyes, I was NOT warned of any possible discomfort. The eyes closed part was rather relaxing. I’m very good at meditative breathing so I just lay there all Zen. Then the technician came back and told me to open my eyes and left again. Still all good but I was starting to feel sleepy. Then he came back again, told me to close my eyes again and turned on a strobe light next to my face. That’s when shit got weird—much weirder than the last time a medical practitioner examined my brain about a decade ago.
When I was 14, about a year before my mother became fed up with the third world lifestyle and moved my sister and me to Virginia, I won an equestrian competition on St. Martin, officially marking me as the Caribbean show jumping champion of my age category. After the awards ceremony a bunch of girls who didn’t win locked me inside a Port-o-Potty. I loved horseback riding, but I quit when we found out that our instructor was a pedophile and possibly into bestiality as well because it came out he was living at the equestrian center, in a stable, with the horses. This dude was a total psycho douche monkey who was constantly frothing spit.
Since I proved myself to be a talented equestrian, he had me ride this wild child baby of a horse named Jazz to help break her. It didn’t go well. Jazz bucked me off soon after I got on her then reared up and her heavy hooves came crashing down on my head. Thankfully I was wearing a helmet, but the impact was hard enough to cause me to lose consciousness and be taken to the emergency room. That was pretty bad for me, but the horses got it worse. When the riding school shut down, because of the iniquities of its instructor, the horses were all sent off to an actual glue factory. I was very, very sad.
Parents: If you suspect the horse your daughter has been riding may have been shipped off to a glue factory, always, always lie to them. But you know who should not have lied to me, the Brooklyn doctor who told me I would feel nothing during the brain tests I went through last week. I felt a lot. I felt so much days later I still find myself slightly struggling to compose a proper email, rechecking and revising each sentence several times to make sure I’m making sense.
That strobe light that the technician put next to me set off a series of mild seizures. My body twitched and convulsed and my brain went “zap, zap!” every few minutes. It did not feel good. I can handle pain; I recently sat through a three-hour tattoo session without one single moan or request for a break. I get my vagina waxed and have engaged in anal sex totally fine despite having very little sex holes. But fuck this Clockwork Orange shit. Perhaps the oddest aspect of the experience is that when my eyes were closed I kept seeing visions of Trey Anastasio. I’m no Benjamin Shapiro, but I also haven’t listened or even thought about Phish in years. I went to a few shows to accompany a college boyfriend who was into them but that is the limit of my Trey exposure so I have no idea what he was doing with me in that room while my brain got zapped. Fuck off, Trey; I want Bowie by my side in all future electrode-helmet experiences. I screamed in pain three times during the test and no one came to check on me. I could have used some David Bowie to hold my hand through the weird. Bowie knows weird.
After the test was over, head still covered in EEG jizz, I stomped into the waiting room and demanded to see the doctor, but he had left for the day, along with the technician. Only the receptionists remained. I wandered outside to find the F train and go home but my brain felt like mush and I couldn’t remember where it was so I plopped down on a park bench and thankfully my partner called me a car to come rescue me. An angry Sophie, even a very confused and disoriented one with electrode marks on her forehead, is a force to be reckoned with.
Over the course of the day after many demanding phone calls I got some answers, and I need an MRI to confirm, but it appears I might suffer from a mild form of epilepsy, which would explain the bouts of blindness I had been experiencing, and was triggered by the strobe light during the EEG. Furthermore, if this new possible diagnosis is confirmed it could mean I had been misdiagnosed in the past, and what I thought were panic attacks (disorientation, numbness in limbs, confusion, etc.) may have actually been small seizures, to sum it up as unscientifically as possible. But best of all, if I find out I do have these seizures; I have a legitimate medical excuse not to attend your shitty rave!
Never wake up and expect an ordinary day—life can always, always, get weirder. Embrace it. After the brain zapping was over and I was home safe I ate some mac and cheese, took a nice long nap, then saw Rob Delaney perform. I guess I can officially call him my friend now, or at least my Twitter friend, and as his friend I am going to call him out on something: Don’t let that chubby green bathing suit avatar fool you. Dude looks goooood in person.