Memory and epilepsy

This is a topic that has been in my thoughts, and I admit my concerns for a few months now. I have long noticed, or became more conscious of  my inability to remember a person’s name,and often forget them eventually.In recent months, I have now been doing general knowledge quiz books and using dictionaries, always enjoyed certain non fiction books, to keep my brain active.Information and facts are retrieved, forgotten, or may pop into my subconscious later.I have for a long time got into the habit of writing things down, on my calendar,my phone etc, which helps.

Memory is the brain’s ability to store information and find it later.This involves learning the information, storing it, then recalling it again. The recalling it is the difficult bit. However there are other factors that affect memory, such as:

  • Mood and concentration:confidence and happiness affects the way the brain works and increases your ability to concentrate and take in information.Anxiety or stress will make it more difficult at learning stage, and worrying to recall information will make it harder to recall the correct information.
  • Lack of sleep:Tiredness, lack of sleep or feeling unwell affect memory and concentration, not getting enough sleep can contribute to memory problems.
  • Age:As we get older, storing and retrieving information is more difficult process.
  • Surgery:Memory problems for those who have epilepsy, has been known, for those who have surgery in the temporal lobe.

Epilepsy as a brain activity occurs on a specific region of the brain, such as the medial temporal lobe. However such repeated epilepsy seizures can affect the brain tissues in the most important areas of the brain eg the Hippocampus, this is important to the processing of information and memory. If damage occurs on the left side of the brain, they will find it difficult to remember words-spoken or written. If damage is on the right side of the brain, visual memory is affected. If damage is found on the frontal lobes, it can lead to short-term memory loss, let’s not despair just yet.

Memory loss is either a short-term or long-term problem.Short term memory loss is common for those who experience Complex Partial Seizures or Tonic Clonic seizures just before and during a seizure, and there are people who experience disruptions regarding long-term loss.Long term memory comes in 4 ways:

  • Procedural memory-A memory for skills that can be carried out without consciously thinking eg riding your bike, swimming, tie your shoelace
  • Semantic memory-A memory for facts and knowledge eg high school and college classes
  • Episodic memory-memories from personal experiences such as weddings,vacations,conversations,childhood memories
  • Prospective memory-remembering to do things in the future eg appointments, birthday cards

Memory problems can happen due to the side affects of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Drowsiness and attention problems can affect short-term memory, and make it more difficult to learn and store new information.Always check with your doctor, if you have any concerns. I did such tests about 3 years ago on memory, during a stay in hospital.

My future articles, will be about getting into the habit of using memory aids, and methods to improve on this.

Living with epilepsy from your family, partners or friends perspective!

Yes, It’s not something you think about, oblivious to how other people feel. Since having epileptic seizures from the age of 13, you don’t tend to think  or consider,just how your condition affects your family, friends or loved ones until adulthood anyway.

The anxiety, worry and concerns  they will have if  receive a phone call from school or work , that your son or daughter, husband or wife,etc has had a seizure and is on their way to hospital. I hope he/she is OK, and not  injured they anxiously think as they make their way to the hospital, and possibly not for the first time.It has happened to me on a few occasions, and unfortunately at my wedding, as we were about to leave for our hotel. My parents,naturally were upset as were others, as they didn’t want my seizure to overshadow what was a perfect day.But feeling groggy,sore,injured and tired  afterwards, and being surrounded, comforted by family and guests afterwards at the hotel. It was embarrassing for me…still I have to smile looking back though, you have to.

To put that particular seizure into some perspective, I had been recently perscribed a new drug, on a low dose, combined with what was a stressful day.So it was possibility. My wife came out with a comment a couple of years ago that really hit home, that it can upsetting for everybody or difficult for all concerned to be around a person with epilepsy or for that matter any condition or disease. It’s not something you tend to think about, their emotions and how everybody else is feeling. The first indication that I’m having a seizure, is my head suddenly turns to the right, I spin round, fall over, leading to a full Tonic Clonic seizure. You can then understand it then, if you suddenly turn and look up in one direction for some reason, and get asked, are you OK? It would make anybody anxious and on edge!

Therefore to all families,partners and friends who know a person with epilepsy, I am sure I can speak for everybody that we appreciate the support, and realize it can be as difficult for you.

The Emotions and Frustrations of Job Search, made harder with the epilepsy condition!

I imagine most people have had to go through this as some stage.However if you are unemployed and a person with epilepsy, it can be a demoralizing, frustrating experience, and even an exasperating.  Especially when you hear of people who decided to leave a job, because they didn’t like it , BUT get reemployed within weeks (let alone getting interviews). Examples of people getting jobs at the first attempt, or even deciding to relocate to other cities or countries encounter problems. You start to wonder! WHY?? Yes you have updated your resume (had it checked) , cover letter (also had it checked), found agencies, online job boards, job fairs…but still nothing. Here’s what you may of come across in your job search experience:

  1. Unemployed for over 6 months-questions! and a skeptical response as nothing seems satisfactory(you dare not mention epilepsy)
  2.  You are overqualified or you  have reached a certain age: so you start applying  for junior positions eg High School Diploma needed, so you might get a chance.
  3. Find employment in positions, out of desperation, that could be dangerous as a person with epilepsy eg factories
  4. The stages and hurdles you have to overcome: online application, initial phone call interview, online tests, interview or two, job offer! (an emotional roller coaster)
  5. Temporary agencies ,who never call or seem disinterested, or  you can’t speak to someone in authority directly: leave your resume with us .If they do contact you, indirectly via resume posting  job sites – provide inadequate information of the job details, that takes days to process
  6. If not selected, you aren’t told why or if you do,your personality doesn’t fit their profile!
  7. Keeping track of the many applications you apply for, and they employer give the impression you were the only one you applied for
  8. Phone interview only job vacancies…noticed this one
  9. Position requires clean driving license (yes we know that one)…or in difficult locations that required many buses or train
  10. Online application only, can’t speak to a HR person even if you know the name of contact, or if you do, get told online applications only.
  11. Wonder if they ever read your application, in the first place, as the applications increase, BUT still hear nothing
  12. Employment is taking from within  the organization rather than from the outside applications
  13. Jobs already taken, before they advertise
  14. Doing something like voluntary work is considered good, yet you feel, even that is not enough to convince the employer
  15. Interviewers  disrespectful…playing with their phones or dismissive…seems a whole waste of time
  16. Is it any wonder, people with epilepsy try to make it professionally by being self employed or if they don’t, are lucky to have a great employer, who knows of your condition and provides support
  17. Finally, to end on a positive note: keep persevering, stay positive,  motivated, even when you you see don’t the light at the end of the tunnel ,  you could be employed in the most unlikely of situations! It happens.

Employment and epilepsy disclosure!

Finding employment is tough at the best of times, but even more if you have have epilepsy it’s even tougher, WHY?

You have to consider the following:

1.Your career choice is a difficult process anyway, even more when you can’t drive, your own personal safety and that of  others.

2.The process of finding employment and when to disclose your condition is a difficult experience.

3.The fear of discrimination and ignorance decreases chances of being hired or even promoted.

Most people who have epileptic seizures, do so by their mid to late teens. Therefore when old enough to be of age to learn to drive will of gone through the stages of acceptance,that being qualified to do so will never happen.

Thus when taking careful consideration of your career, despite your usual reasons of choice: interests,passion,skills which can be based on your personality and your values. You have to take in account your own safety(and those of your co workers etc) as to the potential of having a seizure in a workplace environment.

An environment that is office based or anything that doesn’t require driving as a job requirement, which is not easy in this day and age. You need to consider a location where there is good public transportation.

When you have come up with a suitable career choice, you then start applying and then the hurdle is of going to interviews,and filling out application forms with the fear you won’t get hired because you have disclosed you have epilepsy. If you did ,was it because you weren’t the right candidate eg lack of experience, knowledge,qualifications OR was it really the employers fear or ignorance of the epilepsy condition ie don’t want the responsibility/hindrance.

There is no correct or perfect solution to this dilemma, unfortunately. In my experience, honesty is the best advice, for application forms I would write in the medical section: epilepsy- but well controlled…which was generally true, and then they occurred  at home. I have disclosed  this at the interview stage only, when I was hired. I have also disclosed this information, when I was in the company for a period of time, and therefore they knew I could do the job, was reliable,punctual and had very few sick days.

This is where your knowledge and education about epilepsy condition and the law is the key:

You therefore have to decide yourself when you do or don’t disclose this information as I have done. There is NO RIGHT TIME TO DISCLOSE. In most cases prospective employers can ask if you have any specific diseases, medications,hospitalizations. The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states ‘ Before making an offer of employment an employer may not ask job applicants about the existence, nature, or severity of a disability. Applicants may be asked about their ability to perform job functions.’

They also state ‘ A job offer may be conditioned on the results of a medical examination, but only if the the examination is required for all entering employees in the same job category.Medical examinations of employees must be job related and consistent with the business necessity’.

Work situations may be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) , A federal law that offers protection to those with disabilities for companies with 15 or more employees. Most states have their own laws supplementary to the ADA, and they sometimes apply to smaller companies as well.The ADA protects against discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, training,pay, promotions, benefits, and leave.

You therefore have the right to be free from harassment because of your disability, and an employer may not fire you or discipline you for asserting your rights under the ADA.

Therefore to summarize on disclosure:

On a job application:

  • Peace of mind/honesty  OR may disqualify you with no opportunity to represent yourself

During the Interview:

  • Opportunity to briefly discuss specific issues/concerns OR puts the responsibility on you to handle epilepsy issues clearly

After the interview/when job is offered:

  • If disclosure is revealed and they change the hiring position (Possible legal action) this may lead to Mistrust

After you start work:

  • Opportunity to prove yourself and doesn’t affect ability with peers OR nervousness or fear of possible seizure/ employer accusing you of falsifying your application and identify who you need to tell.

I hope everyone finds this useful and somewhat reassuring.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. --Ernest Hemingway

When I surpassed 50 followers, I wrote a post thanking all my readers for listening, and got a lot of feedback. I got asked how I created a blog that 50 people thought was worth reading in just 2 months, so I decided to make this post. (Not that I think my blog is super great or anything. Cause I don’t. I just try to make something that I would want to read.) So here are some ideas that might help take your blog to the next level.

Actually, I liked that thing I just said. Let’s make that #1.

1. Make a blog you would want to read.

This is your space. You have freedom to make it something that is 100% uniquely you. So don’t be afraid to change things that aren’t working for you to make it better. I’ve redone my “About Me” page, which should be…

View original post 963 more words