restricted access My Ability to Flourish
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My Ability to Flourish

In twenty years of convulsions, I’ve never heard a neurologist mention the word “epilepsy.” Over this time, the intensity of my original simple partial seizures, “simple” signifying retained consciousness and “partial” indicating disturbances restricted to a specific area of my brain, grew to the complex level on my left temporal lobe. I believe this development was influenced by my use of prescribed medications. Several neurologists from Los Angeles to San Francisco directed various electroencephalograms (EEGs), including a week–long, prescription–free EEG in the hospital; magnetic resonance imaging tests (MRIs); computed tomography (CT) scans anywhere from forty–five minutes to four hours each; and blood profiles to help determine my situation. For legal reasons, one neurologist even had me sign a release stating that he was not able to diagnose my situation.

Test results present limited information about my brain and without ever saying, “I don’t know,” these neurologists communicated my test results by utilizing technical terms and thus not always answering my questions. After explaining that my head turns to the left while my right hand shakes, symptoms that have been recognized and reported by several friends and family members, my doctor replied that a seizure on the left side of my brain should cause my head to turn to the right and then changed the subject. I felt like asking, “Am I doing it wrong?”

The brain is different from other parts of our anatomy in that it can’t be replaced like a kidney, heart or other organ. It cannot be removed like tonsils, an appendix or even a limb. It can be physically studied or repaired while functioning but the resulting percentage of survival or proper operation of the body after surgery is minimal and the number of people requiring such attention is so low that the amount is scanty. A dead brain limits the analysis of its functions.

My “disabilities” involve spontaneous uncontrolled loss of consciousness, exhaustion, mood swings, and the suspension of driving privileges. Activity interference, extra naps, losing friends and not being able to get around are definite disadvantages. However, everyone needs to manage personal problems. No one is perfect.

Public transit schedules and directions don’t always offer me the transportation I need. Fortunately, the combination of a bus ride with walking or running can serve my needs while also helping me to keep physically healthy.

Limited benefits include discounted transit and the option to ride instead of walking or running. A trip to Nana’s on the train is always a treat.

I’d rather not be branded “disabled” even though those who understand my situation address me with compassionate, sympathetic attention, [End Page E4] always asking how I physically feel. I feel fine. A seizure is only a quick, conscious loss of time and an occasional scrape on the knee. I’m more annoyed when I notice strangers looking suspiciously at my public transport discount card as if I don’t really deserve it.

Like the “disability” brand, the medications I’ve taken, Dilantin, Neurontin, Depakote, Keppra and Lamictal, among others, all of which produced serious side effects without reducing the frequency of my seizures have only been a cover–up, preventing a search for the true cause and effective treatment of my seizures. Being identified as disabled has only limited my daily schedule. I am not disabled, as society has unfortunately characterized me.

My seizures began in 1993, the year our FDA started approving rBGH, recombinant bovine growth hormone, man–made for the use on dairy cows to enhance their milk production. As a result, milk on the market increased while keeping the price from rising, as demonstrated in Economics I. Can the use of rBGH act on my brain in any way?

One neurologist, in order to avoid the responsibility of inappropriate recommendations, presented his thoughts in the form of questions, encouraging me to consider options.

“You’ve tried all of these medications?”

“Has your diet alteration made any difference in your seizures?”

“Have you tried organic foods?”

His inquiries persuaded me to contemplate whether drugs are an answer to my problem, pay attention to differences in my life and...