“Epilepsy is a curable neurological disorder”, I want everybody to keep this in mind while reading my story. It is because of my own errors, negligence and misconceptions that I am still a patient of epilepsy.
Epilepsy touched my life when I was studying for my post-graduation examination. Initially, I would have these episodes of losing consciousness for a few seconds, which I ignored, but when they started to recur often and lasting for minutes, then I shared this with my hostel friends. My big mistake was that I did not consult a doctor. Almost one year later, I fell down on the floor while in college; I was taken to a nearby hospital by the college staff where it was declared that this was common due to depression caused by the upcoming final examinations.
After examinations were over, I went home. But the episodes continued, this time for longer time durations and the frequency also increased. It was decided that I should stay with my family (mother and brother) and begin my career. My family members consulted many doctors in private practice, nursing homes, and hospitals where no one detected me as a case of epilepsy as the EEG tests always gave a normal report. A year later, however, when these episodes occurred for longer durations, I was admitted in the ICU unit of G.B. Pant hospital. Here is where my epilepsy was detected and I was referred to AIIMS.
This should have been a positive point in my life, at least I knew what was wrong and I could be put on medicines. But when it was declared that I am suffering from Epilepsy or mirgi, I started facing social stigma and myths surrounding epilepsy. All sorts of solutions were suggested to my parents. I also began facing discrimination; my colleagues, my friends, my boss (principal of the school where I taught) started keeping a distance from me. I was even asked to look for another job!
When the discriminatory attitude at work became unbearable, I began looking for a new job, hiding my medical condition, and pray to God to cure the disease, or at least to keep me normal during my working time. God helped in the latter and because of my good teaching skills I was able to achieve a permanent teaching position.
My doctor told me that an operation could go a long way to cure me. This sounded like a dream come true for me. However, when I was to be operated, I had to make a public admission that I was suffering from epilepsy. After surgery when the seizers stopped, I discontinued taking medicines which was a major blunder done by me. It is because of this that I still the carry medicines in my pocket whenever I move anywhere.
My school principal began to find faults so that I could be thrown out from employment. All important responsibilities – working as a class-teacher, guiding the students to take part in competitions, holding important responsibilities during examinations – both school as well as board & competitive exams – were taken away from me. My presence was totally neglected by my colleagues. This attitude resulted in mental depression. I shared my sentiments with other patients whom I met at the hospital and they had similar stories to tell.
One day, the school principal asked me to resign, and I was so depressed that I resigned immediately. It was a mistake. I began looking for other jobs but I was by then over age for permanent recruitment, and only contractual jobs were available for me. I changed my profession from teaching to office-work but there too I was offered jobs on contract basis and those too at lower levels. When a contract finished, no extension would be given to me unlike others. The story continues……..
I am extremely grateful to the platform provided by EKATWAM through which I got an opportunity to interact with other epilepsy patients and their care givers. I was encouraged to speak out my mind and after a long period of time, I began to develop a positive attitude. This has helped me immensely in coming out of my depression and once again to live life of self esteem and dignity. I have once again resumed pursuing the passion of my life – transferring my knowledge to students. I have added another dimension to this vocation: In addition to taking face to face tuitions, I have also begun using newer technologies for the same – designing e learn and multimedia modules and using social networking sites. I have found opportunity in adversity!