Absurd law is dangerous for many

By Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin

For Grays Harbor News Group

“Time and tide wait for no man,” observed 14th century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer.

Though in Chaucer’s time many things were very different from now, his observation about time is still valid today — maybe more so.

Interestingly, one archaic definition of “tide” is “time.” So Chaucer, famous especially for his work, “The Canterbury Tales,” may well have been emphasizing just how powerless mankind is to actually alter time.

To be honest, I deeply dislike so-called “daylight savings time.” Even what we’ve termed it is ridiculous — just because we change our clocks twice a year to “spring forward” and “fall back,” doesn’t mean we’re saving any time at all.

Moreover, it’s arrogant to hint that we could somehow manipulate time, which we have no ability whatever to do. But most bothersome (in every meaning of the word), it creates unneeded difficulties for many folks that could be completely solved by never again manipulating our clocks.

My little brother, Sam, for example, suffered extensive brain damage (encephalitis) when we contracted the “hard measles” (rubeola). Sam and I, 2 and 5 at the time, both seemed to recover, and life went on seemingly normally — until seven years later.

When our family was vacationing one summer at our beloved ocean cabin, “Tideaway,” in Moclips, we took in a movie in Aberdeen — John Wayne’s “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” as I recall. My other memory of that evening is when Sam suddenly became unconscious as a terrifying grand mal seizure threw his body into spasms.


What we didn’t know then was the measles that had ravaged my brother’s brain, resulting in epilepsy. He has suffered from both grand mal (French for “large” and “bad”) and petit mal (French for “small” and “bad”) seizures virtually his entire life.

Epilepsy is a “progressive disease that is catastrophic to the developing brain. It is a chronic medical condition that is marked by recurrent seizures … an event of altered brain function which is caused by abnormal or excessive electrical discharges from brain cells,” the pediatric epilepsy awareness, education and advocacy non-profit, Mickie’s Miracles, explains online.

Because of the force of the grand mal seizures and the effects the petit mal seizures (also known as absence seizures), Sam would never have a “normal” life or be able to take part in most of what we consider “normal” activities.

I won’t describe his countless mishaps, injuries and restrictions throughout his life. But now 70 years old, Sam has lived this long thanks to having others care for him as he moved through his years highly medicated in an effort to keep the seizures at bay. Though well-regulated mediation has mainly addressed the petit mal seizures and some of the grand mal seizures, he still has some strong “big bad” ones that have never been able to be completely controlled. He also recently had a brain bleed.


I use the term “well-regulated” because when the clocks are changed twice each year, it wreaks havoc with Sam’s condition. Modifying his medication routine, even a little bit, without a very good reason is never good. The Mayo Clinic has an online article, “Controlling Seizures with Careful Attention to Medication Details.” Yet Sam is forced to have his medication times changed every spring and fall.

Furthermore, while progress in treatments has helped many people, Sam’s case is too severe for much of what has been able to benefit others. And, by the way, people can — and do — die from epilepsy.

More than 45,000 children are diagnosed with epilepsy each year, and up to 50,000 people die from it each year, as well, according to the Mickie’s Miracles site (mickiesmiracles.org).

When it comes time to reset the clocks, it’s much more than something I just dislike. When my brother’s suffering is increased then for no better reason than to “save daylight,” it seems unconscionable not to stop doing something that makes life more difficult, even dangerous, for him — and thousands, maybe millions, of other people.

I doubt it would be a hardship to kiss daylight savings time goodbye. Not even one person I’ve ever talked with through the years has said they favor it. So why are we still being forced to “spring forward” and “fall back?”

Reach Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin at rhoda1946@yahoo.com.