July 13, 2008

For Disability Carnival #41: "Death Becomes Her" Theme

I believe that Death rides in a carriage drawn by six matched horses. He rides from behind the Moon in the night sky and we can see him coming because he leaves a trail of mist  behind him.

I also believe that we cannot evade Death, but that some of us are Death’s Familiars.

Growing up, I was suspected of being magical and of  demon possession by one grandmother, and of being angelic by another. I am someplace in-between and mortal.

I craved the Church and later came to it. I am blessed by my relationship to it and call the saints, friends. When I was younger, they travelled with me on long and short journeys. 

I live in the hope that they will each remember me if I descend into the oblivion of seizure and am unable to climb out of it. 

I believe in amulets and charms, spells and prayers. Perhaps I am a heretic, but I believe that the imperfections of my faith have already been absolved as they are a part of my Epilepsy.

I have left temporal lobe E. and it makes one curious about the mystical elements of life and Death. As a teen, I would lie awake at night with the window open and hold my eyes open in case Jesus Descended to talk with me. Feeling that I had already suffered much, I felt we would have much in common. He never came to me directly.

But a black cat did show up, sat on the patio outside my bedroom window and waited for me to speak. I said nothing, and so he waited. Finally, the sun came up and he left. 

There are far more serious answers and meditations that should be given to this question, but I am too timid to offer them here. When one begins to talk about, think about or write about Death, dying and the like, others can become overly concerned and for people with E., it can be a double concern because many of the drugs we take can cause "suicidal thinking". So, I am compelled to add that I am writing about Death as a participant in the Carnival and not as an outgrowth of some drug-induced ideation...

All I can really offer is that I believe in a metaphysical world and feel myself a part of  it at all times. 

For those of you who think that I am suggesting a link between mysticism and TLE, let me make clear that there seems to be one---the 5 symptoms together are called Geschwind Syndrome and this symphony of elements is supposed to outline many TLE epileptics, particularly of the left side, accurately. 

But, docs haven't made their minds up about Geschwind's Syndrome... Here is what D.F. Benson has recently written on the subject:

Benson DF.

Department of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine 90024.

A characteristic personality syndrome consisting of circumstantially (excessive verbal output, stickiness, hypergraphia), altered sexuality (usually hyposexuality), and intensified mental life (deepened cognitive and emotional responses) is present in some epilepsy patients. For identification, the term "Geschwind syndrome" has been suggested as a name for this group of behavioral phenomena. Support for, and criticism against, the existence of this syndrome as a specific personality disorder has produced more fire than substance, but the presence of an unsettled, ongoing controversy has been acknowledged. At present, the strongest support stems from the many clinicians who have described and attempted to manage seizure patients with these personality features. Carefully directed studies are needed to confirm or deny that the Geschwind syndrome represents a specific epilepsy/psychiatric disorder

So, when I write that I have considered suicide ever since I was a child or that I talk incessantly or that I am mystically and religiously inclined, etc. you can see it may have an epileptic origin. Not because of the the drugs, but from the etiology of the E. itself.


Anonymous said...

Paula, what is the connection between left temporal lobe E and, for want of a better term, mysticism? You seem to imply that there is one.

That seems to be where they are leaning with a diagnosis for me (not psychogenetic, unfortunately, based on what they can tell), and I'm a theology/comparative religion major with a wide thread of mysticism. This interests me in particular.

Anonymous said...

I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. No one seems to place blame with my TLE. I have every typical bipolar symptom, including what you speak of here. I believe that doctors do not have the exact answers for all our symptoms/illness. Most are doing the best they can.