1) Understanding responsibility – From an early age, I understood the significance of taking responsibility. I had to ensure that I took my medication, didn’t stay up too late, was always prepared. It’s second nature now and has been for a very long time. This has transferred to my approach in work environments by ensuring that I don’t stay up late on weeknights, which avoids potentially missing work for non-epilepsy related reasons. I am constantly caught up on work, so if I have to miss some days, I don’t fall behind.
2) Friends who know first aid – My friends know how to respond to seizures, and those who have seen seizures can recognize and respond to the episodes. This means that there are bunch of people out in the world who could potentially help others and not panic in the face of an emergency. This is a plus for everyone.
3) Air Miles – The pharmacy I use gives reward points on prescription medications. As a result of all of the medications I have to get, I have a ton of points. It makes it possible for me to travel more regularly than I would have otherwise been able to.
4) Saving money on car payments and insurance – It is expensive to drive. There are the costs of car payments, insurance, parking, maintenance, fuel. I don’t have to worry about any of that. I never have to be the designated driver. Plus I’m environmentally friendly by taking public transit or walking.
5) I really appreciate waking up – There are a lot of people who wake up unhappy, right from the start. I am so happy when I wake up and I can feel that I haven’t had a seizure. Just the simple act of being able to get up and go to work, or drink coffee on my deck and read a novel is amazing. I don’t know if I would appreciate that as much if it was completely guaranteed.
6) I am grateful for every day that I go running – This applies to swimming, skating, the gym, anything. Athletics aren’t something that I “endure” or dread. I am so grateful that I have a strong body that can move and that I can use for healthy purposes. Every time I go outside for a run is a victory and has value to me.
7) Unique stories – Like when a seizure caused me to break a door at my friends house on TWO separate occasions. Or the one in front of the Eiffel Tower and once my husband ensured I was okay, he set me with some French moms who were having a picnic and played soccer with their kids. Or the time I was running and then woke up, looked at my running watch and knew that I had a seizure because there was NO WAY that was my time but still finished my run.
8) Understanding that I need to have a healthy body – If I consider the sick days that I am allocated from work, I have to save those for the case that I have a seizure. If I get a cold and need to stay home, that takes away from those days. I need to take care of myself physically to avoid that. As a result, I almost never get sick.
9) Not renting vehicles while travelling – When I go to a new city or country, I don’t have to worry about renting a vehicle. Beyond saving money, it means I get to take local transit. That gives me an awesome opportunity to see new places the way that people who actually live there see them.
10) Travel Experiences – A little while ago I went to Anaheim to run a 10k and a half marathon. My sister came with me to support me and to make sure I was safe. It was an amazing trip, 21 years after our first trip there with our parents. I had never travelled with her alone before, and I look forward to the next time. I didn’t have any seizures, but I can’t even say how much I loved having her there. She may not have joined me if she wasn’t concerned about my safety.
The reason for this entry is that there are so many ways to list the hardest things about being epileptic, the worst things, the most horrid experiences, just generally why it sucks. If that was the only way I approached my condition, it would be super easy to focus on the negative issues. It becomes a tunnel vision that leads to unhappiness. I can’t say that I only ever focus on positive aspects, but I just want to point out that a change in approach doesn’t change the circumstance, but does change how I feel.
I would LOVE to be able to just go pick up clothes from the drycleaners on the way home from work before I stop at a yoga studio for a quick class, then grab some groceries before heading home. That’s completely normal. I have to remind myself that even if I did have a drivers license, I could not afford a vehicle. And I don’t like cooking, so why would I get groceries? The drycleaner I go to is across the street. There are so many yoga studios in the city, I can always find a location within transit range. So why bother focusing on the negative when it doesn’t even logically make sense?
Amazing things happen when we are not surrounded by negativity and that change starts within ourselves.