Tuesday, 21 August 2012

I nearly cried when I read this...

Hot on the heels of my post about memory - or not having much of one because over the years it's been ravaged by seizures or a daily dose of drugs - I received an email from a woman whose epilepsy has raided her memory bank until...
Well, actually, my words wouldn't do this story justice. Her words, her brutal honesty, will do the job much better.
To give you a bit of background, she was feeling poorly and wanted a weekend not thinking about epilepsy and then, she says:

"Trouble is I popped out to the corner shop and this happens -
My next-door neighbour of one and half years now, comes towards me and says; 'I'm having a barbeque would you and your husband like to come along?'
I say: 'Which house is that then?' as I don't recognise him at all, or from which house.
He says: I'm your neighbour...' I'm immediately embarrassed because I know I should recognise him - and I know he expects me to recognise him. To get myself out of the situation I just say: 'We have too much to do, in a mess and decorating indoors, but thank you for the invite anyway.'

"I went home humiliated and depressed. From my garden I could smell the barbeque. I realised then, the man came by only a week ago to offer to cut his overhanging tree branches, but I still didn't recognise him out on the street. He probably knew that because I sounded in a daze. I expect he is baffled. Especially because I smiled and said Hello. You see, I do that all the time because I do not recognise so many people, so I say Hello a lot, to cover myself.

"It's just another reminder my memory will not perform such a simple thing that so many people have no trouble with. It seems a small thing, but enough on its own to make me cry. Sometimes I ask out loud: why can't I remember things!

"I don't think even a good neurologist can comprehend even how much these smaller things can affect us. I know you know what I mean, and it all comes down to the 'living with epilepsy' thing. I feel so depressed, but it's usually short-lived as my husband, Jamie, is so cheery and pink-cheeked and cheeky and he suggested we go to cinema instead.

"When I told Jamie what happened he could hardly believe it - but I have done similar things before with previous neighbours. He said they must think I'm weird or something, but in a jokey and accepting way. Nothing I do embarrasses him, he's so accepting. That is a very big consolation isn't it, it means so much to have him. I wish I could get him to realise it even more how good he is to me."

My heart really goes out to that lovely woman. But I know she doesn't want my sympathy. She wants a strategy to be able to deal with situations like that. Asking your next-door-neighbour 'Do I know you?' is odd in anybody's books.

So what is the answer?


  1. Maybe the news that the "slightly dotty woman down the road" suffers from epilepsy would not scare people off.
    Most people are instinctively compassionate. So that with this information the "epi-friendly"
    neighbour would understand "which house is that?" to mean " I'm having an epi-blank. Please give me a few more clues about who,what,where etc"

  2. That's lovely - and you've come up with another couple of words that we need to introduce into the dictionary: 'epi-friendly' and 'epi-blank'. Thank you x

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  4. very nice..


Are we going to your place? No, it wasn't a proposition!

It sounded like a proposition, I grant you, although it definitely wasn't and the man who thought he was being propositioned react...