Tag Archive | seizures

Do You Ever Feel Like Charly?

To plug along, cave in or kick butt. Some days this is, truly, my thought process. Occasionally a fear kicks in.

CharlyYears ago there was a movie released called Charly and it was based on the book Flowers for Algernon. (According to Wikipedia many schools and libraries have banned the book because of the radical ideas for mental treatment.) For those of you who are younger than me, the basic story is about a man who is mentally handicapped and strives to do better. He goes to night school to learn but he can’t retain the information. He can’t even spell/write his own name properly. He’s introduced to two scientists working on improving mental ability – they’ve had success with a mouse (Algernon). The rest of the movie shows how Charly improves, does amazing things (including an increased sense of self-esteem) only to end up back to where he was when this all started.

Why do I mention this?

Well, there are times when I feel like Charly – near the end of the story. There are times when I feel I’ve lost something. I feel I should know something and I just can’t grasp the meaning and learn it. (Not good when you have a business.)

I do know that it’s in relation to my meds and my seizures. I know that the combination doesn’t exactly improve brain function. But it is incredibly frustrating. I mean I should know… I used to know…

Fortunately the feeling doesn’t last long. But it is irritating and depressing. It sometimes takes me a bit to get past the feeling. I mean, geez I know I have the skills to do a thing, especially when I’ve been successfully doing that (whatever it is) for a long time. I can learn and I do continue to learn – I do not always stay within my “safety” range.

You might be thinking, um Liz, aren’t you being a little melodramatic here? Well, since I’m no where near to being on the level of the character Charly, it was the best analogy I could come up with to describe how I feel sometimes. Hell, to even type in this blog where potential clients could read this – scares me. It does take a lot for anyone to “fess up” to feelings and fears. It is important to know and remember – everyone has a fear of some sort. Fears are very real things, the trick is not to let them run/ruin our lives.

So dear reader, I truly hope you learn to face your fear – whatever it may be and not allow it to run your life.

Oh by the way – I saw the movie as a re-run. When it was released in 1968 I was too young to watch it then.

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Adversity? It Can’t Touch Me!

Well, I do suppose it depends on the situation and your frame of mind at the time. Kinda like do you cry over spilled milk? Or do you just let the cat/dog lick it up and then accept the love they give you?

One of my adversities was being unemployed. Part of the reason was yes, my year of record amount of seizures, the other part was not being able to find the job after the last company merged and I wasn’t needed any longer. Then of course there was the medical disability, doctors not allowing me to be in any workplace.

YES I was bored out of my mind. YES I was depressed. YES I was frustrated. I mean really – I needed to work, for my self-esteem and because we needed the income.

So, in the face of that adversity I started – slowly because I was unsure of what to do – my business. Someone had to explain to me what a virtual assistant is and that YES this is something I could do. I had everything I needed here at home.

Around the same time my husband learned about and became a FEMA inspector. Well OK, to properly describe this – he’s a sub-contracting inspector for a company sub-contracting with FEMA. Doing this has the potential to make a decent amount of money – got us caught up a bit on the bills.

However, there was a down side to this. My husband was gone for a couple of months. This may sound strange, but we’d never been apart that long. The longest is (generally) every year for his 10 day hunting trip with his brother. He is very good at adjusting to various situations; he’s a laid-back kind of guy. His adversity was being away from home and his first location was in New Orleans and was in a not-so-safe neighborhood and had guns pulled on him. He almost quit right then and there.

Fortunately (or unfortunately for the fact that there were people in need), there was another location they could send him to. The folks in Iowa had a much different mind-set.

My husband has gone on a few disasters since then. Has been in New Orleans, in sections of Illinois and is currently in New York. The adversity now? Like anyone else he hates seeing what people are going through. Fortunately his sense of humor eases up some frustration people are going through – even if it is for a short time. Laughing is always good for the soul.

Other adversities can be a very independent person breaking something – a leg, arm – and having to ask for help to get things done. This type of person hates to have to ask for anything – you try getting dressed with both of your arms broken. Fortunately, this is a short-term adversity.

How about getting a run in your pantyhose – just as you’re arriving for an interview. Then there’s anytime you have car issues and you need to get to your destination – it’s urgent.

Do you realize that adversity can go a long way toward teaching lessons? Don’t give up, you can overcome and be a better person as a result. It could be the push you needed to go in a different direction in your life and find that something that brings you happiness.

At the very least you learn to carry an extra pair or pantyhose and sign up with an auto club and whip out your trusty cell phone and let “them” know what’s happening.

Learning from “Crash and Burn”

Just what is an “epic failure” and what can be learned?

Well, for me it’s a variety of things. There was the time in my career that every job I had (it seemed) went bankrupt or merged with another company shortly after I started. Kind of makes a girl feel like a jinx! This kind of job result could make a person want to give up and crawl into a cave somewhere and say “Go away world!

Or, there were the times I tried two different multi-level marketing companies. Failed horribly, the second attempt led us in to bankruptcy. This also led me to feeling like a complete and utter failure. You know, the “oh woe, is me” syndrome. That old crash and burn thing.

So, what happened? It’s still a learning, growing process. Yes, I did find a long-term job that I loved, I was there for 7 years. Then they went and merged with another company and didn’t need me any longer. Well, at least it lasted longer than the previous jobs – anywhere from 1 – 3 years.

Then there was the interesting job I had (that really required an additional part-time person to handle properly). This job was not meant for me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. I streamlined part of the process, I designed flyers when needed (I really loved that part) There was a variety of things I was handling. But I wasn’t listening to my inner voice. It found a way to make me listen. At that job was when I had a lifetime record of seizures.

Yes, I felt like a failure. Why? I had no control over the events. I had no control over the companies failing, or merging with another company because the business owners were getting older and didn’t feel there was anyone “worthy” of taking over.

But, I did/should have had some control of the outcome of the MLM companies. The lesson learned from that: I do not have the ability to sell. I couldn’t even get my own family to buy anything. How bad is that?

The lesson learned from the other? I started my own company. I will not lie to you – it wasn’t an over night success. But, it is growing and I am in control (well except for the marketing thing). But something wonderful happened that really boosted my spirits. Just the other day I checked my Google ranking. Looking for online secretary got me 50+ million hits with my company – Virtually Helps – on the first page! Not too shabby!

So my lesson learned, after all this time, is: don’t give up, the right thing is out there waiting to be found.

**NOTE: both pictures used were found on Google Images.

Finding the RIGHT Thing for YOU!

Have you ever tried something you thought would work? Actually went along with what someone was selling you about this idea/program because you felt in your heart this would work?

Well, I did.

I had been in a job I HATED!! It was making me physically sick (my record year of seizures was while I was at that job), I dreaded going in – every day. So when this great (I thought) opportunity came along I jumped on the band wagon. It was one of those MLM companies, you know like: Herbalife, Avon, Mary Kay, Party Lites, Tupperware, etc. (it was one of those – I won’t say which) the products were GREAT. But they were/are expensive – compared to what one can buy in a store for a similar product. I did everything my “upline” told me to do. I made all the calls to people who’d expressed interest. I was on every learning call, and took all the courses they offered. The results? I fell off the wagon. I couldn’t even sell anything to my own family and because I kept pumping money in, we had to file for bankruptcy.

OUCH!

All during this time, I had a former boss who’d gone out on his own occasionally asking me to help him with his projects. “Liz you know how I like my proposals to look, you know how I think, would you help me with this project?” Well, yes – extra money and it was fun. Why wouldn’t I do this?

I finally realized that this MLM thing wasn’t for me. You see it takes someone with selling skills to do that. When I was working retail (part-time) I couldn’t even suggestive sell additional products! Where did I get the idea I could do the MLM thing?

Doing the virtual assistant thing – YES, I can do that! You see, I love this type of work. I especially love when I can take someone’s reports/presentations/blog posts/newsletters and make them look better. You know, dress them up, and give them pizzazz. I enjoy editing. I enjoy helping my clients. (Did you notice that the creative stuff is listed first? Did I mention I really, really love that stuff?)

So, I had started the idea that I needed my own business. I needed to get away from the job I was in and do what I wanted to do. The sad, rotten thing was doing that expensive step first. But because of that MLM, I at least knew what company to contact for creating my website. So I did learn something.

Epilepsy and Depression

This blog will be a little different. You see I’ll be discussing depression. Much of this blog comes from an informational article found on the Epilepsy Foundation website. This will describe a few people (me included) rolled into one person who I will call Abby.

Abby has had epilepsy for many years and is on 2 medications to control her seizures. Like all medications there are side effects, one that ALL anti-seizure medications seem to share is depression. And if that’s not enough, just having epilepsy alone can be a cause for depression. You see, the seizures Abby has may come from an emotion center of the brain. According to the article found on the Epilepsy Foundation website, people with epilepsy may be more likely than other people to experience emotional changes.

How often seizures happen also plays a role in depression. People who have seizures frequently may be more likely to feel depressed than people who have well-controlled seizures. Even though Abby’s seizures are (currently) controlled, she still suffers from bouts of depression. As anyone with epilepsy can attest, after your first seizure (even if you try to deny it’s now a real part of your life) you worry to varying degrees “will I have another seizure?” “when will it happen?” These thoughts alone can be a cause of depression.

Lifestyle risk factors are also important in the development of depression in people with epilepsy. In one study, four factors were linked to depression: poor adjustment to seizures, increases in stressful life events, financial stress and being a woman.

In addition, people who feel “controlled” by their epilepsy and feel that it dominates their lives may be more susceptible to mood disorders.

People with Epilepsy and Depression

The results of studies to find out how many people with epilepsy have a mood disorder such as depression vary widely, ranging anywhere from 11 percent to 60 percent. A lot depends on how depression is defined and the groups of people being studied—for example, hospitalized patients or those in outpatient clinics.

Research also shows that people with epilepsy who are depressed often are not diagnosed. About 50 percent of the time they are never treated for the problem. In Abby’s case, it’s because she feels that the feelings will go away, and she’s embarrassed to feel this way in the first place. Abby never had issues before. She was great at handling stress, doing her job, juggling everything thrown her way, why should she admit to yet another fault/flaw in her make up (you see, that’s how she views her epilepsy – a flaw in her biological make up).

Depression: A Checklist

So now Abby has to ask herself, am I suffering from depression? Here are the questions she should be asking.

  • Do I have long bouts of sadness? Do I cry for no reason?
  • Have I lost my interest or joy in life?
  • Have I had changes in eating habits resulting in major loss or gain in weight?
  • Have I had a change in my sleeping habits resulting in difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much?
  • Am I irritable, anxious?
  • Do I have difficulty getting things started?
  • Do I have a lack of energy? Am I always tired?
  • Do I have low self-worth, or a loss of hope? Do I feel inappropriately guilty?
  • Do I have poor concentration? Is it difficult for me to make decisions?
  • Do I have thoughts of death or suicide that won’t go away?

YIKES! Yes, folks, I will be honest with you, I have felt yes is the answer to 9 out of 10 of the above list. Most only last 1-4 days.

Abby answered yes to five or more of these questions and feels this way continuously for 2 or more weeks. According to the article, she may be suffering from a major depressive disorder. Abby had felt for a long time that her family and friends were right – she should just “snap out of it, no reason to be depressed.” There are times when Abby is afraid to say anything because she’s afraid she won’t get the understanding/support she really needs. You see, because of having epilepsy for so long, her support system may be numb to her depression – they’ve seen it for so long. So, many times Abby “fakes” feeling good so that no one will really know what’s going on.

Abby needs to contact her doctor because treatment may be needed.

People who have infrequent or less intense symptoms of depression may also require treatment. Watch your own reactions to the world around you. If you feel that some of the listed symptoms are getting in the way of your enjoyment of life, especially the quality of your relationships with others, then you may be suffering from depression.

Fortunately, there are effective ways of treating depression. It is important to talk to your doctor about how you are feeling and ask about treatments that might help. Just because a side-effect of your medication may be one of the items on the above list, do not discount it. Yes, I know that you may have gone through a lot of medications to get to the point that your seizures are controlled. You may be willing to put up with the feeling that the person you were before the seizures is gone forever. But, is it worth it? It could get tiring putting up a false front because you think you need to recreate the person you once were. Seek help from your doctor, it might be an easy thing to correct.

Sitting on Pins and Needles

YIKES! That’s a painful picture! But if you think of the meaning it explains a lot:

It means feeling sharp anticipation or anxiety; in a state of suspense. Someone who is “on pins and needles” is very anxious and nervous. This not necessarily a negative emotion although the phrase is sometimes used in that way, it is usually used to describe someone who is in great anticipation of some event that they have been looking forward to.

OK, so maybe saying I’m sitting on the edge of my seat is better:

If a story keeps you on the edge of your seat, it is very exciting and you want to know what is going to happen next.

Hmm, well in my case I guess I’ll have to stay with the pins and needles thing. You see, the other day (2/7/12) I had a follow-up EEG. I haven’t had one in years – when you don’t have insurance you sort of let things slide. I won’t find out the results of the test until I see the doctor NEXT Friday – 2/17/12 – hence the pins and needles thing.

Yes, I have been living with my epilepsy since 1991. Yes, I have been taking meds all this time. A person gets tired of taking medication – especially when those meds make you tired all the time, and still fog up your brain. I’ve been having the feeling of late that the more foggy feeling is because I either don’t need as much of the medication, or I don’t need it at all.

Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

Since I had the surgery putting electrodes directly on my brain in August 2007 for testing, then removed and everything closed back up, I haven’t had anymore seizures. This is a major record for me. I truly want to be one of those rare people whose seizures stop because the brain’s environment changed.

Yes, I know there will always be some damage – face it having seizures causes some brain damage to the area where the seizures originate. But, some research I’ve read on fighting early stages of dementia suggest that Vitamin B12 and learning new skills (like more things for my business) can help build brain cells. I’ll be asking if this will work in my case.

So, here I sit (figuratively) on a BIG helping of pins and needles waiting for next Friday and to find out the test results. As I usually spend my prayers on many other folks, I’m going to be a bit “greedy” and ask that my hopes come true. That’s not a bad thing. Right?

Your Health is Important

As I have stated before, I have epilepsy. In 2007 I underwent surgery placing electrodes directly on my brain to try to determine just where the seizures originate. Turned out there were either too many locations firing all at one time – or too far inside to safely perform any surgery.

The amazing news, I apparently am one of those rare people that the act of opening the skull and changing the environment of the brain has made quite a difference. I’ve been seizure-free since then.

But like anyone (perhaps you know yourself) who’s broken a bone can tell you, every time the weather changes the bone hurts where the break was. In my case I get some nasty skull aches – the vibration from chewing hurts, even smiling/laughing hurts. Then if my sinuses are also affected – I’m really in trouble! When that happens I do my best to stay away from people. Why? Because I have a very short tolerance level. I know that I will say or do something I will regret later.

In life that’s bad. For a business?? Worse! One cannot have quality client relations when suffering through a day I just described. Chances are your clients don’t know your medical history, why would/should they? Normally I can perform my work for my business without issue. This kind of debilitating pain is comparable to someone with chronic migraines. This is the kind of situation that if one can work around the situation and not have contact with people (but can still work – like I can), then this is actually a good thing. However, I also know from experience that this type of pain can be very distracting – it’s hard to think to just do “normal, everyday” things and you may not be able to work at all. I’ve been there too (just the other day in fact).

So, dear reader when it’s possible, please take the opportunity to take care of your health. When you can, rest. Do not do or say something that could turn around and “bite you in the butt” at a later date. You’re already stressing over a side-effect of your health, don’t set yourself up to make your health worse. As in my case, if I were to stress too much I could cause a seizure. I have been blessed with four seizure-free years; I do not ever want to experience another seizure. Ever.

Know your limits and work within them – but don’t let them hold you back! Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do a thing because of your health. You know your body. You know what you can get away with. Do not feel sorry for yourself and lock yourself away – that solves nothing and only makes things worse.