Friday 8 November 2013

Epilepsy and Memory

Memory problems are common in people with epilepsy... the first question is why?
  • caused by the epilepsy
  • side effect of seizures
  • side effect of drugs
  • mood and anxiety
As I said in my earlier post about the weekend... my memory seems to be ok and my memory book at work picks up any of my weaknesses.  It is only remembering names that I struggle with but even that I get anxious over.  Today while working I'd stopped using my memory book, I thought maybe I could work without it.  But then everything got muddled up in my mind, I felt myself start to panic so I opened the book and wrote everything down and suddenly calmed down as I knew I wasn't going to forget the important things I needed to do.

But my memory problems are nothing compared to the amazing person I met at the epilepsy weekend for all.  Her name is Kate and it was great to meet someone who I just got along with so easily and understood the challenges which epilepsy can cause.  We had so much fun at the weekend, our rendition of Grease Summer Loving I think topped the whole weekend for everyone hehe!

But the most incredible thing about her was how bubbley and positive she was even though she had real memory challenges.  She wrote the following to help a parent on the forum that I work on but I wanted to share it on here as I think she is an amazing person and we could all learn a lot from her about living for today :)

My head injury happened in 1999 so I've had almost 15 years to develop them. God, it feels so strange seeing it written there - almost 15 years since the accident. They've flown by but at the same time I've changed so much in them. Acceptance has been a part of that. Accepting that it had happened, that it wasn't going to go away and drinking alcohol certainly wasn't going to make it go away. It would only make it worse. But it took 10 years and getting epilepsy because of it to finally make me realise that.

So in terms of the strategies using the grid method has been the most recent and useful addition. I have a diary which I keep on me at all times (attached to my bag with a lanyard because I'm always panicking that I've lost something!) I'm probably one of the most organised people when it comes to the contents of my bag but I panic something could have fallen out in the time since I last checked.
-I keep a ruled piece of paper in the middle of the week which I divide into 4 squares: Urgent, Important, Not Urgent, Not Importan and slot each thing I need to do into one of thoset. Like I'm sure i said, the things I need to do, or people have told me to do, get in such a tangle in my mind or get lost completely. It's also very difficult to prioritise what should come first. Using the grid really helps and I feel such a sense of accomplishment when everything from the lists has been crossed out - done!

Medication reminders. I learnt the hard way that keeping the drug levels in your blood stream consistent IS important. By that I mean it's important to take your medication at regular intervals. I take mine 3 times a day. Even when I want a lie in my reminder alarm's set for 7am. I wake (just about!) up, take the morning dose and go back to sleep.

I don't remember events after a certain point. I can't put an exact time on that but it's usually a couple of weeks. Photos help. Not that they'll necessarily bring back the memory of me actually being there but it's nice to have a record once the memory's gone. 

And also getting involved, going to events like this one. Accepting that you have the condition and not being ashamed of it. It's through that that I've met people like you. It's great to meet people who you've immediately got that epilepsy experience in common with. It's so important to hold your head up high as opposed to wallowing in pity you might feel. You can also share tips and really reassuring advice like I've had from you.

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