Epilepsy: Trust Your Doctor

I’ve wanted to write about my epilepsy as a blog post for a while, but anything I draft feels too personal and I don’t think I’m ready to share my experiences in full with the internet. I do however feel comfortable writing about the gratitude I feel for my current health.

I am pretty open about being epileptic, and I have received quite a few messages inquiring about how I “beat epilepsy” or “got better”. Firstly, I have not “beat epilepsy”, not by a long shot. I am epileptic and it affects me daily. I don’t have seizure because I take pills twice a day. I make excuses not to go out too late or drink too much, I have nightmares, and I get anxious every time I an in a situation where having a seizure could kill me (ie. riding a bike. Yes, every time I get on a bike.). So that’s pretty heavy. But what I want to share is what I did this morning.

I woke up, took my medication and looked at a photo frame of images I see daily. Today it affected me a little bit differently. I have done some pretty amazing things with my life, none of which would have been possible without the help of my neurologist. So I spent my morning making a grade 5 style thank you card to send to my neurologist.

So for those of you who send me messages asking about “natural cures for epilepsy” or advise me to try smoking pot, my response is always going to be some version of: “Trust your f***ing doctor!”. Your neurologist went to school for at least 8 years. People don’t go into medicine to harm you. In Canada doctors can not receive pay out or gifts from “big pharma” for prescribing medications. These people want to help you, and if they seem frustrated when you ask about natural cures it is because they know that you are heading down a path that is likely not going to help you. These people have seen more cases of epilepsy than I have, they have read countless scientific studies compiling hundreds of epileptics cases, and they know what is scientifically proven to work. They know that sleep, diet, and exercise play an important role. They are also knowledgeable about when you probably need to start on medication. I distrusted my doctor for years, trying all kinds of alternative stuff. Spare yourself the seizures you don’t need to have.

Is medication going to work perfectly right away? Maybe not, it took me about a year of working with my neurologist to get a dosage and medication that works for me. Scientists don’t fully understand this disorder, but a neurologist knows infinitely more than I do from my experience with one case of epilepsy. I don’t even know how to read an EEG, nobody should trust my advice over a doctor!

Living a healthy life helps with any condition, and doctors will tell you this: sleep enough, eat healthy, exercise…but also you might need to take medication. And that’s okay. So if you want emotional support please send me a message. I am always happy to talk to another epileptic. But do not try to substitute my advice for that of an expert.

One last thing. Stop telling me to smoke pot. I need the medication that I am on.

My epilepsy tattoo in lieu of a medic alert bracelet, and my medication which has allowed me to live a life I love.

Discussing Body Image: Don’t tell your kids they aren’t fat

I was recently discussing a friend’s 13 year old daughter with him. She came home one day and declared that she was fat. “I am fat” is a dreaded sentence for any parent! His reaction was to tell her: “no you’re not fat!”. Which is absolutely true, she is a very small person. He also discussed how he wants her to be able to talk to them about anything. All of that is really great, hooray for open discussion parenting! I didn’t feel like I could talk to my parents about this sort of thing. Growing up there were certain things we did not discuss, body image and sexual health being a couple of them.

But, there is a “but”. No, this particular girl is not at all fat. She’s TINY. But, what if she wasn’t? How would the discussion have gone then? We need to focus not on reassuring people that they aren’t fat, but instead on health. Are you healthy? Can your body do the things you want it to do?

I lost 20 lbs and then gained about 50lbs over the course of one year due to an eating disorder. I have finally learned how to accept my body and eat intuitively. And I have been leveling out to a healthy weight for my body over the last few years, which is looking to be between 140-150 lbs on my 5’7″ frame. Most people would probably look at me and consider me a little chubby. And if I were to show you a photo of myself at my lightest (when I was counting every calorie), at my heaviest (when I was binge eating), and now, people would probably say I was “at my best” at my thinnest. That was when I was chronically tired, could maybe make it 8km running, could hardly carry my climbing gear for the hikes into climbing areas, and actually had to quit midway though an exercise bike lab. I was not capable of doing the things I wanted to do. In the last year? I backpacked 52km over 3 days, I ran 21 km a couple weeks ago, I rock climb 3-5 days per week, I have a job where I sprint after butterflies and dragonflies with children, I am really good at AcroYoga (google it) and you better believe that if a frisbee ends up in a tree I’m going to be the one climbing up to get it out. That is how I am going to gauge my personal healthy weight. This is my body, it does amazing things, and I love it.

THAT is the conversation we need to be having with our kids. Is there a legitimate health concern due to their weight? Are they actually too heavy or too thin? If the answer is no and they are a healthy person who is capable of living the life they want to live with their body then the conversation should look like a discussion about media portrayals of health and beauty, about changing weight as you age, about how healthy looks different for every person, and about self confidence.

Don’t tell your kids they aren’t fat:
Teach them that “fat” is a noun, not an adjective.
Teach them that some people naturally have very low body fat, some people are muscular, and some people are curvier.
Teach them to appreciate the beauty of every body type.
Teach them to live their life pursuing the physical feats they want to accomplish, not a body type.
Teach them not to compare their bodies to others.
Teach them to not give a flying fuck if someone tells them they are “too skinny”, “too muscular” or “too fat”, because their body type is theirs.
Teach them that their value and self worth is in no way dependent on the amount of fat they carry on their body.

As for me?

My body is flexible, I like to do yoga

I like to do yoga

I like to do AcroYoga

I like to do AcroYoga

My arms are strong and I've got pretty good balance: I like to surf!

I like to surf!

My favourite thing to do: rock climbing!

My favourite thing to do? rock climbing!

I can go ziplining with my mom, who is also beautiful and loves to kayak, cross country ski, and go for walks with friends.

I like to go ziplining with my mom, who also has a body which lets her do the things she wants to do. She loves to garden, kayak, cross country ski, watch cool documentaries and go for walks with friends.

Please excuse me while I portage this 70 lbs canoe for 1km

This is my body. It’s not for everyone, but these are the things I like to do, and it lets me do them. Now please excuse me while I portage this 70 lbs canoe.