I promise you the following story is true. I changed the names because all too many people (not to mention companies) still react badly to any sort of seizure disorder.
I would like to say at the start that I do not recommend “Anne’s” rationale regarding not taking her medication – that’s a dangerous course of action at best and the fact that it didn’t have a bad result in her case is mostly luck.
Anne is eighteen and planning to start college in the fall. She is nervous and excited, both for the same reason – this is the first time she will be away for home for an extended time. She planned it that way by only applying to out-of-town colleges. It’s not that she doesn’t love her family. It’s just that the time to leave has come.
In addition to all of the usual stresses of starting college, she has an extra one. She has a secret – something she rarely talks about. As an infant, she was diagnosed with petit mal epilepsy and she must take drugs daily because of it. Since barbiturates and alcohol don’t mix well, she isn’t supposed to drink. Inside, she’s not sure that’s really necessary. After all, she hasn’t had a seizure in years – not since grade school – and even then it wasn’t anything the average person would notice. Unlike grand mal seizures, the kind where people fall down and go into convulsions, her seizures are just a sort of quiet blanking out in which she just stares into space.
Petit mal epilepsy diagnosed in infants often disappears naturally as the child grows older, disappearing during the teenage years. That didn’t happen in Anne’s case. In fact, she was changed to a stronger medication a few years ago. The doctors say that the chances of it healing itself now are slim. She only has electroencephalograms (EEGs) every few years now. This part pleases her because the test takes hours, mostly because it requires attaching a large number of electrodes to her head.
As a result of this secret, Anne does not have a driver’s license. She went through all the training but it’s difficult to get a license if you’re epileptic – it requires periodic certifications from a doctor that it is under control – so she didn’t bother. She also hasn’t had many boyfriends, but that’s mostly because her mother insists on telling any dates about her condition and what to do for a grand mal seizure – it’s so embarrassing, especially since she’s never had a grand mal seizure.
College. She’s finally here. She wants to fit in. That means, among other things, going to parties. She knows she’s not supposed to drink but reasons that if she only drinks occasionally and doesn’t take her medication when she does things should be OK. As far as she knows, there is no ill effect to this practice. Then again, given the nature of petit mal seizures, would she really know if one happened and nobody noticed it or told her? She’s not sure but decides not to worry about it.
This is the 1970s and the Transcendental Meditation followers are all around campus. She is interested and decides to try it. The cost is small and the idea is intriguing so she goes through their initiation. Anne considers the people running the program a bit weird but nice enough and the meditation feels good – relaxing – so she goes to some of their meetings and to the periodic “checking” sessions. She meditates twice a day – most of the time, anyway – but otherwise her life doesn’t change. She still socializes with friends and goes to parties every now and again. The meditation is relaxing, a way to reduce the stress of her college program.
Summer comes. It’s time for another EEG. Groan. Anne decides to try something a bit different. She’s bored with the whole process so she decides to “play with it” a bit by meditating while they do the test. When it is finally over, the technician tells her she fell asleep during the procedure. She tries to tell him she didn’t sleep but he shows the graph to her, pointing out the part that he says indicates sleep. She knows better but doesn’t argue further.
The test results arrive – there is no sign of epilepsy. Anne’s brain looks perfectly normal.
Anne believes that the meditation resulted in the healing of her brain – the ending of her epilepsy. On the other hand, it may just have been the end of the natural progression of the ailment. As I mentioned earlier, children often outgrow petit mal epilepsy. That could have simply happened later than expected.
Was it mystical healing or just the normal process of the human brain. What do you think?
I am a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and poetry. If you are interested in learning more about me or my work, check out my website at http://www.leomaretan.com.