The place to come to wag more and bark less...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Little About Me...

I was born in December, 1965 in southwest Pennsylvania. In grade school, my teachers reported that I was a smart kid, but I had trouble paying attention. I often strayed from the subject at hand and my grades suffered for it. Yet, though I may not have been a good student, I never questioned my intelligence.
In the mid-70’s, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Suddenly, all the prior talk of my wandering attention now made sense, and virtually every adverse experience I’d had up until then – from bad grades to not excelling at sports – could now be explained by “my seizures.” It was about that time that things at home began to change dramatically as well.
Though I’ve an uncle with epilepsy, both parents seemed surprised at my diagnosis. Partly because of denial, partly because of ignorance, my medical condition was not a welcome subject around the house. Soon, I realized those closest to me defined me by my epilepsy, and I soon came to feel like a pariah – and alone in a small home with two parents and three younger siblings. Worse yet, my seizures were terrifying experiences out of my control.
An unhappy father regularly ridiculed me about my seizures, as well as my bad grades. To him, no nickname for me was too critical, or too hurtful. A mother unwilling to stop this cutting behavior led him to continue unimpeded. Today, over 35 years later, those names still hurt, and my turbulent relationship history – both personal and professional – has suffered greatly. Deep down, I’m aware these things are best left behind. But in reality, all associated problems that arose at home from my epilepsy – though banished from the forefront of my mind – still remain. Over time, though, I’ve largely learned to ignore them.
During my mid-20’s I sustained a brain injury during a mountain bike crash. Everything seemed fine at first, but serious problems quickly arose. Extreme mood swings, and an inability to remember anything now existed. Worse, however, was that my epilepsy symptoms – and my terrified feelings about them – returned. Now, incontinence and tongue biting made me feel less in control than ever, and were again a regular part of my life.
Since I could no longer make new memories, my old memories became my life’s experience. Happily, enough of those memories were positive enough to carry with me forever, which is good; they are all are calming, and many are even entertaining. Anyway, they are all I have left.
Today, my past memory loss and continued memory impairment are the crux of both the challenges and frustrations I face every day. For nearly 20 years, my memory loss has yet to be a positive thing, and may culminate in any one of a vast range of emotional ups and downs.
Over time, that has changed, as I’ve been adapting to my life ever since the accident. Improvements have come slowly, but steadily and, more importantly, ever more positive. Through this blog, my goal is to accelerate this positivity. While it serves as an outlet for the frustrations of memory impairment, it’s also the perfect place to celebrate and to share its positive aspects.

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