There are over forty different types of seizures. The most famous one is the grand mal. Like the T-rex, it is hard to miss – the sufferer screams, makes very strange movements, and falls to the floor and in doing so sometimes injures themselves eg break their back. They also lose their memory before and after the incident (for a better description ask my husband, Michael, or my daughter, Gabriella, who have seen me have four).
Let me introduce you two of the less famous ones. Firstly, the partial complex seizure which I saw on Shabbat. I was enjoying watching Pretty Woman when suddenly I noticed the patient (ie a friend) next to me was having a partial complex seizure – she was sitting perfectly upright but her face had gone all floppy and when you looked at her eyes it was if, her nefesh, her soul, had been removed. There was nothing there. She was totally vacant. Twenty minutes later it was as if nothing had happened – but she couldn’t remember the whole thing.
And then there are absences or ‘petit mal’. I have absences. Blink and you will miss them. Although some people have them for three or four seconds, mine, are less than that. As a child it was taken for day-dreaming. Whatever type of seizure you have the whole process screws up your brain and can leave you feeling exhausted.
I have noticed lately that I don’t do something called metacognition eg Another mother at the school bus stop said to me last week ‘The bus has been very late this week.’ And I thought ‘How do you know that?’ This involves lots of brain processing eg first of all you have to remember if the bus was late yesterday (I simply cannot remember) and then you have to recall the day before that and the day before that and then hey presto some algorithm is pressed upstairs and out comes the answer – the bus has been very late this week. ‘Gosh’, I bet the other mother would say to me if she was reading this ‘I never even realised that I was doing that’. And my response would be ‘I also find the neuropsychological mechanisms of the brain fascinating but, for me, this isn’t academics. This is a painful existence.
My middle son doesn’t like to say the shema prayer before he goes to bed – he finds it boring. So I ask him to say one thing that he is grateful to hashem for and put in one request. Tonight I am grateful to the nurse who gave me blue tak so I could put the ‘Mummy get well soon’ poster that my elder daughter had drawn on the wall. It means I can see it all the time and I am very appreciative of the nurse’s simple act. So, as a suggestion, you, the reader, might decide to be grateful for your metacognitive ability, because living without it isn’t fun. And my request to Her will be to give guidance to the doctors at the hospital so that they can help me on my journey.