When I started this blog I thought that ‘adventures with epilepsy: confessions of a life well lived’ was the most perfect title. I hoped that I might discuss my excitement, fears and adventures with like-minded people rather than simply my partner and family. For reasons associated with my ‘life well lived’, I haven’t written lately because I didn’t think I had anything ‘epileptic’ to talk about. My colleague suggested that this was in fact reason enough. Hence the inspiration for this post. However in a contradicting twist, I am aware that this term at least, I have noticed my bad days more than I have ever done. I’m sure the consequence of another seizure and its effect on my driver’s license is motivating the echo in my head reminding me to, “be well”. As committed as I am to this new yoga inspired, stress free, hippy professional life, there have been a number of events that have tested my state of mind with epileptic consequences. In this post, I simply want to share one of those events.
If the news did not reach you internationally, then let me set the scene… Not very long ago we had a hurricane tear through Queensland, Australia. Whilst it did not terribly affect Brisbane and the south east, we did get a significant amount of heavy rain and flooding. On Thursday, just as the rain began setting in, I arrived at work with the hugest of huge headaches. You know that frontal lobe headache that makes concentrating difficult without adding the glare of a computer screen, rehearsals and an evening excursion to the musical WICKED? Despite the pain-killers it just would not go away. I ended up leaving school after my last class to go home, shut myself in a dark room, and sleep for an hour before having to supervise a senior music excursion. I survived. WICKED was awesome! And to top it off, the boys thoroughly enjoyed and engaged in the experience. My job done! But wait, there’s more! I woke up Friday morning feeling dodgy again. It was a simple decision really; my long term health is my priority so I decided to stay home from work. The problem with being a teacher, is that this is not necessary the easiest option. The reason teachers often still attend work despite ill health is because of the following:
- We still must notify the Deputy by 6:30am and preferably send through our lesson plans by 8am.
- As teacher of music, my lessons plans must reflect the high probability that it will be supervised by a non-music specialist.
- And what rehearsals might we miss? Must email student reception so they can notify parents that the rehearsal is cancelled.
- Prepare to deal with the hundreds of emails that will require a response the following day.
Not a problem. I planned the lessons and sent the emails before returning to my cosy bed in the dark. What next? My partner and I were becoming increasingly concerned with the health of his cat Ashram. As I was already home, I promised to take her to the vet when I felt more like myself. I did. I was so worried about her wellbeing so I repeatedly sang “Soft Kitty” as we drove to the vet. Question: How do you tell the love of your life that his cat, who he has owned for 2 days short of 20 years, that she has serious kidney failure and must be put to sleep? One: Try to suck up your own pain and provide a simple and clear explanation Two: Don’t sob uncontrollably Three: Be the presence he needs whilst purposefully ending a relationship that has lasted half of his life. A situation like this couldn’t have been staged better. It was raining, the roads were flooding, and the threat of damaging storms was very real. Now add this to the picture:
- My man in a suit and tie, outside in the rain, digging a hole and burying a beloved pet.
- Me standing behind him, sobbing as quietly as I could manage.
I did what any sane woman would do. I headed to the shops and bought every comfort food I could think of. We had red wine, frozen chips, frozen potato gems, chocolate, salt and vinegar Pringles, fresh bread, butter, avocado and ripe juicy tomatoes. I then proceeded to wait on him hand and foot. The problem was that I couldn’t go near him properly for at least two days. I felt selfish because of my uncontrollable crying. I showered for long periods of time just for the privacy to experience my own pain. I also chose to re-read “50 Shades of Grey” in the interest of inspiring other, less depressing thoughts. Despite this my absences seizures became more noticeable, and on occasion I suffered a minor tremor in my hands and jelly legs. Whilst people mean well and continue to remind you that stress is bad, this external motivation tends not to come with practical solutions relevant to your needs. What is important is our own personal motivation. I found that plenty of sleep, exercise, piano practise and commitment to both home and work gave me focus to climb out of what could have been a driver’s license threatening moment. Three weeks later and I am feeling more settled. Whilst Ashram is still that unnerving shadow in my peripheral vision, I am encouraged by my increasingly positive ability to not let life’s downs dictate epileptic activity. Have a great weekend! MJ