One morning in December, with no forewarning, Francesco had his first epilepsy crisis. It started with a piercing scream, as he came out of the bathroom, followed by a fall. He remained prone for a long time, his eyes rolled back, his limbs rigid, his breathing laboured. We dared not move him fearing he had had a stroke, but Roberta, fortunately still at home when I rang her, was quick to recognize the symptoms, and gave me instructions on how to deal with the situation now and in the future. When we finally put Francesco to bed, he remained for a long while staring fixedly, red in the face, his eyes wide open and full of terror, not recognising his surroundings. He later fell into a deep sleep, his breathing still laboured but gradually becoming more regular, and when he woke an hour later he was his normal self again.
Despite this crisis, Roberta did not deem it necessary to initiate new medicines. 'It could be an isolated episode', she reassured me, 'we'll see if it happens again.' But for us this meant yet another anxiety; the fear of a new crisis; the constant pricking up of our ears to catch the first cry; the Valium injection to hand, and for me the terror, when out of the house, of hearing my mobile ring.