When did you find out that you had epilepsy? How? What did you do after being diagnosed? How do you cope with it now?
For me, it was at age 11. And although I was diagnosed by the Head Neurologist at NYU, no one (except my father) accepted it.
My step-father was a surgeon. (“You have uneven brain waves.”) My step-mother was a shrink. (“WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU?”) And I was a pariah.
Of course it didn’t get any better…
I was a zombie on Dilantin. (The only med other than Phenobarbital that was available then.)
I almost drowned in the shower, continued to pass out, walk into walls, and even broke my nose. (My mother said: “What a clutz!”)
But adolescence stinks, no matter what shape you’re in. (“Those were the best days of my life.” You’ve got to be kidding!)
It was awful. Trying to date. (What would happen if someone kissed me?) Being ignored. (People were afraid.) Being shunned. (Really, epilepsy is not catching!)
Epilepsy became my “dirty little secret”.
Until I got a little older, a little wiser and became more comfortable in my own skin.
And although my epilepsy didn’t go away, my attitude changed.
After all, no one had any expectations of me, so how could I fail? I couldn’t fail, except in my OWN eyes.
Ok. Yes. I got angry. Which was a good thing. I figured, “I’ll show them.” And I did.
I sent myself to college and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Even though no one would pay my way, because they thought it (I) wasn’t worth it.
Next came waitressing. (After all, a girl’s got to eat.) You can imagine what a disaster that was.
So, it was on to men’s retail clothing. Until I keeled over on the suit rack.
And there were a bunch of lousy jobs after that.
But my dream was to write.
So after 124 answers to blind ads in the newspaper, I got a call for an interview.
I couldn’t afford the phone call. I called collect.
And guess what? They came to Boston to interview me!
Then it was off to Pennsylvania for a “trial run”. (They paid for my airfare, motel and food. I had NO money.)
And I fell in love. BIG time. To the kindest, most caring accepting, positive person possible. Someone who believed in me!
I’ve been writing for 34 years. I’ve been married for 33 years. (Which, in my family, is an all-time record.)
And yes, I showed them all. But most of all, I showed myself that I could do it.
Am I proud? You bet!
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