It is a tradition by some Facebookers to reflect on a year since a particular photo was taken and thus in accordance with that tradition I would like to reflect upon a year since this photo was taken of me.
As illustrated on this photo last July I spent five days incarcerated 24×7 in a bedroom at the epilepsy hospital so that the doctors could measure the electrical activity in my brain. Since then it has been a very busy year for me. After the unit could not understand what was wrong I went onto see one naturopathic doctor, one neuropsychiatrist, three neurologists and two neuropsychologists. I’ve also seen my mum quite a lot too. At the end of it all I have a diagnosis – frontal lobe epilepsy. It now seems a bit bizarre to me that most people know more about the function of tonsils than they do about their frontal lobe, but that is the strange world that we live in. The frontal lobe, as I understand it, controls your executive function ie memory, processing, decision making, strategic thinking and so forth (and thus shapes your personality). Therefore, in contradiction to popular thinking, I have concluded that you do not control your thinking – your brain does. And if you have a broken brain controlling your thinking, like mine, it is problematic.
To remedy this problem this year I have tried out both naturopathic and conventional (anti-epileptic) medicines (not at the same time). But the problem has not been resolved. In fact one anti-epileptic drug made my condition worse. This is I believe due to the fact that epilepsy is an extraordinarily difficult condition to treat and the side effects of anti-epileptics can include decreasing cognitive function. Conventional drugs only effectively treat two-thirds of patients and I am one of the unfortunate third that remain currently untreatable (or intractable).
This year some people have suggested to me that I should give up on my little battle to find a cure to my ailments. I should just find a way of living with my illness, like other people do, with chronic conditions. But I just can’t give up. I want better for myself and my children. And I live in the, perhaps false, hope that I will find one. My next step is in October to start a medicalised diet – called the ketogenic diet. It is similar to the Atkins diet but I will have a neurologist and dietician to aid me.
In other developments this year I have written 15,000 words of the book, London City Airport – The First 30 Years (to be published in October). Don’t ask me about it because I haven’t retained much of what I have written. But nevertheless I have written it, in the knowledge that I am not retaining much of it. I have also taken a course in copywriting and life-writing and met some interesting people along the way. I have been to one batmitizvah, two barmitzvahs and two weddings (one wedding and one barmtizvah to go – and no funerals) and celebrated my 40th along with my children’s nineth, sixth and fourth birthdays (and soon to celebrate my husband’s 40th) .
So what have I learnt this year? I have learnt that medical science has much to learn about the brain; that people are not thankful enough that their brains work properly; that only God can truly judge another person because only She knows what is going on inside their head; that it is commonplace to pray for another person with a physical health condition but rare to pray for someone with a mental health condition and finally that it is important to laugh at your problems because sometimes if you don’t laugh you will cry.
I hope you had a good year too. Thank you for reading. I really do appreciate your support.