At the age of 26, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. A PhD student at the time, I relied heavily on the cognitive skills that are compromised in the aftermath of seizures. I’m not sure how, but I somewhat miraculously managed to navigate the challenges posed by my sudden disability and finished, and defended, my dissertation, becoming a doctor (!?!?!?!). However, my condition remains uncontrolled and has thus significantly altered the way I’ve had to approach post-academia life.

Most significantly, I had neurosurgery in January to see if my doctors could pinpoint the source of my seizures (they couldn’t). Now, I continue to adjust to a new set of limitations in order to deal with the unpredictability and disruption caused by both my “episodes” and the after-effects of my surgery and what they’ve meant for me: a brain injury, concussions, broken bones, lost opportunities, etc. etc. etc. These are things I’m doing my best to accept. It’s hard. Baby steps.

What many of my friends, family members, and former colleagues don’t fully understand, and what I didn’t understand before experiencing it for myself, is the extent to which epilepsy is a human, gritty disorder. That it has its origins in a malfunctioning brain and not a supernatural curse was recognized in a text often attributed to Hippocrates, from which this blog takes its name: “Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end to divine things.”

The author goes on to suggest that it is caused by excess phlegm, but I’ll ignore that part.


7 thoughts on “About

  1. Thanks for wandering over to my little corner of chronic illness crazy. I popped over here, and have been reading, you are already cracking me up. Love it….ha.

  2. I really enjoy your blog. You have a wonderful perception of the world and command of the english language – unlike myself. Great wit too. Keep pushing the doctors for a MEG study. Looks like there are only a few labs in Canada and most are for research. Your condition would fit well for a research study related to surgery for focal seizure control. Please keep writing. Your are a strong young lady. God bless you.

    1. Thanks, kenlininger! I follow your blog closely. Your daughter is so blessed to have parents like you. I’ll talk to my epileptologist about the possibility of an MEG; great suggestion. I need to be more proactive about pursuing treatment options beyond AEDs, but the possibilities/process can be overwhelming.

  3. Hi. I just read your about, and i realised that Hippocrates talking about excess phlegm in relation to epilepsy is also paralleled by the Chinese medicine model (it is only one variable though). Phlegm is not the same in Chinese medicine as it is in the west, it means that and a whole lot more, eg, phlegm in relation to the heart could have been blocked arteries, or in kidneys stones, or gallbladder stones… There is a parallel in that phlegm is created by heat and damp pathogens in the body (in the Chinese model) and for example could manifest as a tumour, perhaps in the brain causing seizures. Obviously not everyone has seizures because of a tumour, and so phlegm is only one possible cause of epilepsy, by you can see why Hippocrates may have been working with a different model. 🙂

  4. Hi! Thanks for coming by my blog. And I’m so happy I found yours. I know we suffer from entirely different issues but I’m glad to find somebody writing so honestly about seizures. I’ll be back to keep reading!

  5. I’m glad you’re out there. I was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy when I was in my early 20’s as well – and I’m also an academic : PhD in biology and currently a postdoc (and ex-pat Canadian). More people in academia need to come out as having epilepsy to let the world know that this is a very common disorder which can affect anyone, and exists in those with normal, or above-average intelligence as often as we would expect any other affliction. I like the Hippocrates quote as an appeal to naturalism, though I also find it very interesting nevertheless how much religious inspiration may be the result of temporal lobe seizures (hyper-religiousity and hypergraphia both being the mark of prophets and TLE).

  6. I hope you don’t mind, but Bear has nominated you for the Liebster award!
    More info here:

    Before I was correctly diagnosed with Dysautonomia, I was misdiagnosed with epilepsy. I was having seizures (due to lack of oxygen to the brain), and I know how debilitating they can be. So I’m completely thrilled to hear that you have recently completed the defence of your PhD dissertation! You go girl!

    ❤ S.

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