Onwards and upwards…

There’s no other way to put it: what a crappy week.

And I was so looking forward to it. A new colleague starting work with me, a new exciting project with a client and seeing Pink Martini live at the Albert Hall. All ruined by my uncooperative body.

A stinking cold turned into a raging temperature and the shakes while at work on Monday. All this while trying to maintain a semblance of normality and smiling through the weirdness. I did the adult thing and gave the tickets for the gig to my friend and headed home to bed. Monday night was spent tossing and turning in fevered dreams and revolting night sweats, all the time accompanied by a thumping headache and rasping cough.

Not pretty.

Tuesday, I work up feeling a lot better and kicked off a new project with a client. I was managing to hide my residual illness quite well until I had an epileptic seizure in front of the audience. Yes, this has happened before. It was a bizarre experience and a good illustration of what the brain can do when it mis-fires. I was unable to speak or read but I could excuse myself from the room by almost sing-songing the words out. Very strange, Any neurologists want to write a paper on me?

I had to finish the day and then collapsed at home. Shattered. Wednesday I worked from home after a brief meeting with colleagues to get them set up for an event I was supposed to be co-running.

Thursday, I kicked off another client-facing event in good form and got through all 7 hours of training delivery without a hitch. Until everyone had left and I had another, worse seizure. I tend to unscientifically label my seizure types. All are complex-partial seizures, so I don’t drop to the ground and writhe about. My brain simply misbehaves, leaving me looking stunned, confused and occasionally doing weird things. This time, I was in the bathroom at the client offices when it happened. I had what I like to call a “Hitchcock”.

These wipe my memory for a few minutes, leaving me confused, paranoid and worried that something terrible has just happened. My mind races to try and figure out how I got where I am and how I get out. I was in a bathroom, that much was easy. But where? And who was I with? This only lasted for about 5 minutes, but during that time, I took on the air of a central character in a Hitchcock thriller, when all the evil agents are out to get them. I go into real fight-or-flight mode and become hyper-vigilent. Scary stuff.

While this was a Hitchcock, Tuesday’s episode was a mere “Brain Fart”. With these, it’s like someone has hit the reset button on my brain and it needs to reboot. I grin like an idiot, but can’t speak or really let people know what’s going on. In the past, some people haven’t noticed it was happening, especially if they were doing the talking at the time.

However, regardless of the type of seizure, I’m left with the mother of all headaches. The type where you can’t bend over to take off your shoes without a wave of pain behind your eyes. There’s also an element of depression – nothing serious, but just a feeling of being down, tired and disinterested. It passes after some sleep, but the headache stays around just long enough to be annoying.

Ten minutes later, I was back in the real world, remembering everything and thanking jeebus it didn’t happen in front of my clients. It’s just too embarrassing.

Two of these episodes in one week is enough for me, so I cancelled my appointments and worked from home yesterday. After a few calls and several dozen tidying up emails, I was feeling more human and clocked off at about 3pm. One relaxing evening later and I’m back to my normal self. Even the cold is gone!

Its too easy to be a pain in the arse about these things and be “oh woe is me” every time it happens. I try to remember I’m stuck with this, it’s going to keep happening and, when all is said and done, it’s not ruining my life. I can hold down a job, travel, keep fit and do basically what I want. The exceptions? No booze, no sleep deprivation, and a need to minimise stress. Probably a healthy recipe for most people if I’m honest. Oh, and I’m not allowed to drive. Probably for the best, eh?

I don’t write or talk about my epilepsy to get sympathy. There are millions of people out there with far worse epilepsy than me. If anything, it’s to explain what the experience is like and maybe strip away some of the misconceptions associated with it.

The good news? All is well in my brain, and just in time for the weekend.

You’ve got to accentuate the positive, as the great man once said…

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