Hardwiring

Damn epilepsy medicine is so expensive I’ve lowered my dosage a bit, which seems OK. Our brains shrink with age, the big giant twenty something thing squeezed into our skull at 23 or 24 has been reduced by maybe a per cent a year since then (tho’ not in every case), so maybe there are just less neurons for the medication to cover. Or maybe less synapses, the connections between the neurons, which is what causes the problem, all the dendrites–the little filaments–that spark so easily in an epileptic’s brain. But epileptic brains tend to hardwire as we age, so that we have less neurons open to us which might make us less prone to epileptic problems because hardened pathways can’t spark as easily. I think it’s sort of like an interstate that bypasses a lot of the local roads, if you can see that image. The more used neuronal pathways lose their synaptic connections with a lot of neurons in the process. Memory must get fucked up. (It has, actually). But who knows. All I know is I can get by on less meds than before. But, oddly enough, when I cut back my dosage my hypergraphia increases–this, for example–and I write for hours. Everyday, thousands and thousands of words. Which I suppose might be a good thing. Maybe. Some epileptic writers, I remember reading (I believe in The Midnight Disease by Alice Flaherty) learn how to take advantage of that hypergraphia by controlling the drug dosages….cutting back just a tad (or pushing the next dose back a couple hours) can be worth several thousand words. This doesn’t work if you suffer from tonic clonic (that is, grand mal) seizures. You don’t mess round with those. All that electricity shorting out everything, memories disappear, entire skill sets, parts of your personality, probably entire unwritten novels. But most epilepsy is simple partial seizures, localized, never losing consciousness, and although decades of that sort of epilepsy can do plenty of damage, it’s subtle, incremental, rarely noticed right away. You can risk holding off meds for those a few hours if you want to get some writing done. You learn to work it. It’s easier the older you are, as the more hardwired the neural pathways have become, the less prone the brain is to frying itself out unmedicated. It’s a learned skill, one never discussed with non-epileptics because it’s, well, weird. Maybe scary. Maybe creepy, even. But it certainly helps. Writers figure out all sorts of tricks to keep writing, this is just another. Not every epileptic is another Dostoevsky, the poor brilliant bastard, but we just might have an edge on the normal brained writers. We write like machines, just switch us on and words flow out, well past our bedtimes.

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