Carl W. Bazilís Living Well With Epilepsy and Other Seizure Disorders: An Expert Explains What You Really Need to Know is of personal interest to me. Iíd much rather it wasnít. But having been recently diagnosed with a seizure disorder myself, I find a new interest in such handy guides. Itís a frightening thing to learn that your brain, which holds such important matters as your memory, your fine motor skills, and your basic personality, has any sort of problem. When itís a problem you arenít even conscious enough to monitor, that concern grows. Itís like finding out that not only has your house been vandalized, itís going to be vandalized at indeterminate intervals for the rest of your life, usually for no apparent reason. A bit unsettling, to say the least.
Bazil tries to normalize epilepsy and other seizure disorders as much as possible. One of his first points is that seizures are a very common disorder; many people deal with some sort of seizure disorder in their lives. With a relaxed, friendly attitude, he goes on to explain the mechanisms of seizure, explore some of their odd effects and manifestations, and generally make epilepsy seem less like a demonic mental takeover and more like the medical irritant it is. Itís a well done, rather comforting explanation, and in-depth enough to help the newly diagnosed and old hands alike. My attitude certainly improved on learning the reason for the odd phenomenon that accompany, say, an atonic seizure, and doctorís assurance that the lapses of consciousness arenít threatening sound more authentic when the mechanism of those lapses is laid bare and explained in laymanís terms. He also focuses his attention on seizures in adults; and unless youíve looked for information on seizures in adults, you wonít believe how unusual that approach is.
Itís all very reassuring until Bazil comes to the meat of the book, the actual process of living with epilepsy. It turns out that thereís not a lot to be done. Seizures seem to come and go as they please, with obvious triggers like flashing lights or certain sounds accounting for only a small percent of disorders. For the rest of us there are drugs, which may have considerable side effects, general health advice which may or may not help, and somewhat objective but perhaps overly optimistic suggestions on how to modify daily activities to allow for the potential minor havoc of most seizure disorders. Bazil at least has a more realistic sense of what the likely hardships are than some rehab coaches. He acknowledges the importance of driving, housework, and other physical activities unavoidable for the majority of adults, but doesnít have much help to offer.
After reading Living Well With Epilepsy, living with seizures is... a bit unsettling. They still strike without reason, I still have no real way to treat them, and theyíre still interfering with my daily routine. But I no longer feel as though Iím facing a unique problem, and when exploring the unknown, having even a slim guidebook in hand can add an enormous amount of comfort.