Well, in my experience the two just don’t go together. Especially if you’re of the male persuasion.
My nails aren’t naturally gorgeous. They split, break and generally look like I’ve spent a lifetime chewing them. Hmm, stands to reason being as I have…Anyway, I’d spent a fortune getting my nails done for a special occasion. I can’t recall what that occasion was now, but I do remember they looked beautiful. A couple of days later, I’d been shopping in town and I was standing at the bus stop waiting for the No1 to go home. I had a fit right there in the bus stand apparently. The paramedics were called and, true to form, I found myself in the hospital. Minus my beautiful nails. Now, according to the nurses, I’d left most of my nails in one of the paramedics, who had tried to sweet talk me into the ambulance. I’m guessing he won’t be doing that again in a hurry….I’ve met a lot of paramedics in my time. An awful lot. They’re the ones who generally have to bear the brunt of my lack of desire to enter an ambulance, be strapped in and they don’t see me at my best. I’ve questioned the parentage of almost every single one of them and yet I remember none of them.
In my experience, paramedics, nurses, ward assistants and hospital staff in general, are amazing. They put up with me, patch me up, feed me (I don’t like being in hospital, but my favourite part is having rice krispies with sugar for breakfast ) and send me on my way in a far better shape than that in which I arrived. Consultants. They are a completely different breed, but I guess I’ll get to that.
I don’t remember too much about being diagnosed with epilepsy to be honest. I’ve said I had my first fit at 15yrs and I was diagnosed 2 years later after I had a fit when I was supposed to be at a job interview. I suppose I didn’t want to be a checkout girl at Morrisons supermarket. My Dad had come home early from his work to find out how the interview had gone, to find me lying on the couch and talking rubbish. He wasn’t happy. I turned my face to look at him and gave him a mouthful of obscenities and that’s when he saw the bruising down my face from where I’d been banging my head off the wooden armrests of the couch. The doctor was called and he trailed his finger along the sole of my foot and I felt like it was being ripped open and doused with acid. He said that it was a sure-fire sign that I’d had another seizure. Cue more hospital visits and this time a diagnosis of epilepsy and the beginning of the battle of the meds. Something else I’ll get to!
As I’ve said, I didn’t know much about epilepsy when I was diagnosed back in the 80s. I certainly didn’t want to talk about it and I was in a constant bad mood, partly down to the fact I was a teenager and partly because I was terrified. What did it all mean? Did I have a mental disorder? Was I going to have to live in some kind of facility? Could I work? Could I get married? Could I have children? Was I safe to be around? I had so many questions and fears. I didn’t voice any of them. I was too scared of the answers so I chose not to find out. 20+ years later and I can see the error of my ways. Maybe someone should have pushed me to ask questions and talk about it, but I don’t remember anyone doing that and I probably wouldn’t have been receptive anyway. Now, I ask questions. I don’t give a second thought to how daft they might sound. They’re not daft to me and if asking the question means I don’t spend the next 20 years wondering, then I’m going to ask it. To date, no-one has made me feel stupid for asking a question. I have, on occasion, been spoken to as if I’m small child or a silly girl, but I’ve got the answers and the discomfort of asking has been short-lived I still get a bit nervous going to see the medical profession of my own accord. Arriving in an ambulance and lacking control is one thing, but pitching up at the neurology department after a summons still makes me uneasy. So, I write down what I want to ask. That way, I remember to ask it. Epilepsy can be frightening and is definitely still misunderstood, but the epileptic’s lot is improving. For instance, in the Dark Ages we would have been burned alive accused of being involved with witchcraft; in the Middle Ages we would have been referred to a saint to receive treatment for the “falling sickness”; today there is information, support and a wider-acknowledgement of the condition and its (many) treatments. Oh, and it’s not politically correct to describe yourself as epileptic anymore. I still do refer to myself that way, same way as I describe myself as female and as brunette. It doesn’t define me, it just is what it is.
As I’ve said, having a seizure for me is always followed by a bout of depression. Some depressions go deeper than others and some I can shake pretty quickly. The depression that I felt after the fits before Christmas is lingering. It’s not as dark as it was, but it’s still hanging around. I’m feeling depression and I’m fearful of depression, far more scared of that than the physical side of epilepsy. Although, I quite happily advertise my epilepsy to anyone who will listen for a variety of reasons that I’ll get to later, it’s not until relatively recently that I’ve been more open about the depression I suffer. Depression, for me, brings back memories of how others in my life “coped” with and were “treated” for their depression when I was much much younger than I am today. It invokes a feeling of dread. I was talking to a friend about dread a couple of days ago. He was telling me how his wife is dreading a long-haul flight with their two very young children. The flight is inevitable, so he just accepts there will be some pain involved, but for his wife she is actively dreading it even though there is nothing she can do about it. It’s an interesting concept. I don’t dread physical pain. Emotional pain? Well that I dread, and rather than accept it as inevitable and not worry about it, the dread becomes a constant regardless of any action taken. Problem is, in my experience, a depressed mind isn’t a rational mind and so the cycle continues. Dread attracts dread and all of a sudden everything is frightening. The only solution is to take action to break the cycle and of course that involves a great deal of dread…..viscious.
Today has been a strange day and I’ve spent most of it thinking about my jigsaw. I’ve been thinking about how there is a sea of grey where my 30s should be. I’ve been thinking about my life and what I’ve done with it so far and I realise that my 20s were the high point. My 30s was a series of bad relationships, bad decisions, depression and a job which I thoroughly enjoyed but didn’t stretch me beyond my comfort zone. My 30s were blah and if I’m not careful, my 40s will go a similar way. So, it’s time to take control again. To accept the depression for what it is but to also accept that it will pass. The trick is not to dwell and to not let it become all-encompassing. I accept my epilepsy has consequences.
One of the advantages of having epilepsy is that I save a fortune not getting my nails done….