Friday, April 8, 2011
GUEST POST-- STUART ROSS McCALLUM
Thank you Gary, for the opportunity to share with your readers the reason why I wrote, Beyond my Control, One Man’s Struggle with Epilepsy, Seizure Surgery and Beyond.
I believed there was a need to write a story about epilepsy that was not necessarily geared exclusively towards the medical community. The many books I had read on the subject were overly clinical and difficult to fully grasp. I hoped to write a story, which would make epilepsy real and not some abstract medical disorder. The feedback from readers with and without epilepsy has exceeded anything I could have ever hoped for.
My story begins when I was a 17-year-old and started to experience déjà vu sensations followed by severe headaches. I set out in search of a diagnosis which proved to be an arduous undertaking. I received many wrong diagnoses. An example is when a psychiatrist (of sorts) declared that I was suffering psychological episodes and given mind-numbing doses of antidepressant medication. Eventually leading to (incorrectly) being placed in a sanatorium for my mental health. My mystery condition (finally) revealed itself when I had a full-blown convulsion at the side of the road.
Beyond my Control spans over a 20-year period. During this time epilepsy caused a significant, often frightful, impact on my life and the lives of everyone close to me. For 15 turbulent years, I operated my own business, managed staff with ever increasing seizure frequency. This created an unstable and at times, highly dangerous working environment. The magnitude of my condition escalated, resulting with a post seizure response of a menacing and sinister nature, prone to violent outbreaks.
One of the early episodes occurred in my stained glass studio. The moment I shouted, "I'm having an aura (a warning sign that many sufferers of epilepsy experience)," our seizure plan was immediately activated, and I was locked inside my studio. The seizure passed, and I entered my postictal state (lose touch with reality). In a trance-like condition, I began aimlessly walking around the showroom, glaring at the display of fragile glass and lighting. After a few minutes, I clenched my hand into a fist and randomly lashed out, striking the glass panels. With my fist bleeding, I focused on the doors, kicking them over. As my postictal state was beginning to end, I calmly walked into the manufacturing area and lay down laughing and smiling. Once I finished laughing, I sat down staring and wondering why my hand was bleeding. I heard Rhonda unlocking the back door. She went straight to the first aid box and attended to my hand. Fortunately, my hand wasn't too bad and Rhonda kindly cleaned the cut, and dressed my wound. Ashamed and hesitant I asked, "What have I done this time?" Rhonda explained the ludicrous rampage, walking around my showroom, breaking glass.....I felt extremely gutted. As always, I had no recollection of the episode once the seizure had passed.
Whenever a frightening situation occurred not only was I in danger, my staff, and often customers were as well. Individuals perception and understanding of epilepsy clearly showed, which had surprising results. My socially unacceptable behaviour ultimately influenced me to undergo two major brain operations, in the hope of gaining seizure freedom.
My story provides an honest, emotional, and (sometimes) humorous look into living with the world’s most misunderstood serious brain condition. Thankfully, since successful surgery I am now free from (the invisible enemy) and no longer fear when or where the next seizure may strike.
Here's a link to Stuart's Web Page: http://www.beyondmycontrol.net/