I’ve worked since I was a teenager. Apart from a stint travelling, I’ve always worked. I started my working life as many youngsters do, in a newsagent and tobacconist. I didn’t deliver papers long, but worked in the shop from 15 years old until I left my hometown, moved to the city and started my first proper job. Epilepsy has never prevented me from working.
I’ve acknowledged many times that there are varying degrees of epilepsy and if a person is seizing multiple times a day, then that renders it virtually impossible to hold down a full-time job. My epilepsy doesn’t place those restrictions on me. And, I’m one of the lucky ones in that my epilepsy doesn’t force me to place restrictions on my working life. There are caveats to that though. I’ll never be allowed to join the armed forces. I’ll never be allowed to drive a hgv or any other vehicle, and there are quite obviously some careers that I won’t be able to do, mainly to keep me and the general public safe. However, there are a multitude of careers I can have and experimenting with these jobs has kept a roof over my head and a passport in my pocket for nearly 30 years!
This minute, it struck me that I have had a fit in virtually every work environment I’ve experienced; except those that I truly loved doing. Coincidence?
Work to live. I’ve always said that’s what I do. And it’s true. It’s true because apart from a couple of jobs I’ve done, my career choices haven’t sat naturally with me, but like most of the population, I have bills to pay and things I just want to do. That means I have to work and I need to get paid for the work I do. But what if I’m making a career out of that which I truly love to do. That’s not really work, but I’d be getting paid for it. Perhaps I’d even bound out of bed of a morning in order to get stuck in as soon as possible. Is that living to work?
Last week, I had an episode. In truth I don’t know what happened. I had to be in work early and I was up early. But I was disorientated and confused. I immediately put it down to just being tired. But it was more than that and in my heart I knew it, but my head didn’t want to acknowledge it. To be fair, my head didn’t know what it wanted so I can’t blame it! I decided once I’d had a shower I’d be fine. Not so. I managed to put the shower on, but I couldn’t work out what I needed to do once I was standing under the water. I could feel the tightening sensation in my chest and decided I was clean enough. Fear was starting to ripple through me, but I swallowed it down. Coffee. Coffee will fix it, I thought to myself. After all, I’m just tired! I switched the kettle on, got the mug, got the coffee, but couldn’t figure out how to make the three of them come together. Fear is waves now, but I carried on. I had to go to work, I had to. I don’t know how I got dressed, I can’t remember. I went outside to wait for the bus. Both buses that stop on my street take me to work. But when one came, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t work out if the bus went to my work or not. The tears started, the fear was taking over. I knew at that stage that I had to go back to my home. I did. That day is a blur. I know I’ve been feeling a bit out of kilter since. It isn’t a good feeling.
What happened? I don’t know. Am I starting to recognise the signs that I’m about to seize and having enough cognisance to realise I need to be somewhere safe and familiar? I don’t know. Was it something else entirely? I don’t know. Bizarre as it may sound. This type of episode frightens me so much more than a full blown grand mal ever does.
I’m lucky. My work are supportive. It is a safe environment for me, however the process of getting there, while being unable to process my surroundings, isn’t!!