Missed dose

Thought I was writing a lot. Lots of tweets, really well written tweeted miniature essays. Plus viciously smartassed snarks to make the Trump supporters cry. One really long email that came out of nowhere remembering stuff I hadn’t thought of in years. Messaging. Lots of words. A froth of words. Ideas in Brownian motion. Stuff not getting done but lots of words. Like this.

Then a brain twinge, zing, like a plinked piano wire. Another. Recognition. I’d missed a dose of spazz meds. Funny how that works.


Cold meds

I’ve been on cold meds on and off for a few days, mostly on. This morning in the LA Times I came across an unusually lyrical passage for a newspaper and I read it aloud to my wife. It was about oil pumps and mechanical giraffes and I just dug it to death. She nodded, pretending to listen. The passage flowed nicely as I spoke it instead of coming out word salad. It was the first thing I’d been able to read aloud in a year at least. I tried it again later with another paragraph in the Times, reading aloud to myself. I got through the whole paragraph coherently. Then another. Then I tried an essay (“Citizen Kahn”) I wrote yesterday. The words flowed mostly, stumbling just a little, not enough to annoy a listener. I read the whole thing aloud in my big silverback dulcet tone, no stops or umms or repeated words repeated or missing verbs or cursing and confusion and stopping and giving up. No stuttering on their and they’re but not there. By the end I could feel the spazzy electric buzz in my jaw so didn’t push it any further. But still—there’s must be something in cold meds that suppresses some of my epileptic symptoms. Not all of them. It doesn’t stop hypergraphia (hence this) but it did let me read aloud. Groovy. I can swill cold meds and go to beatnik coffee houses and read my weirdest shit to wide eyed college coeds. Or I can read aloud and nod off in front of the television in an antihistamine stupor. Sounds like weed, actually, except NyQuil doesn’t make you hungry. Or horny. Or giggling at the stupidest things.

Dig that crazy long paragraph. Time to stop writing.

Sometimes I think about Dostoevsky

OK, now comes the classic epileptic writer’s conundrum…do I let the thing keep me writing? Or just take my overdue meds and go to bed?  Alas, no Fyodor Dostoevsky me, so off to bed.

But epileptic writers really do learn to manage the symptoms, a little hypergraphia being a handy thing. It takes years to master it, though. Certainly one of the less studied aspects of the condition. Or even admitted to. Indeed, the very fact that I’m writing this at all is a sign I’d better take my Tegretol. Sometimes, though, I think about Dostoevsky and wonder how many novels have been lost to seizure medications. Or epileptic artists, the Van Goghs, how many paintings have been lost to seizure medicines as well? Though less ears have been lost. There’s always an upside.

And on that note, goodnight….


Funny thing, epilepsy, its demands pretty much control your life. Especially when you suddenly can’t take one of your meds for a week. This blog was put on hold…I stayed in, low stress, no driving, taking too much of the other pill (It jacks up testosterone levels…how’s that for a side effect?) and watching comedies all week. Laughter, as Readers Digest used to say in bathrooms all across America, is the best medicine.

I also avoided writing. Writing and epilepsy are interlinked in me, the hole in my brain is right smack in the language center, the neurons are all crazy there, abuzz with excess electro-chemical energy, making words and sentences and chatter come out in torrents. You learn to contain the chatter and get a handle on the torrent of prose. I do have a couple pieces on the blog somewhere that are pure epileptic energy, endless paragraphs, ideas whipping about with near Brownian motion. I read them now, thoroughly medicated, and they look nuts. A pal of mine loves the stuff, though. Reads like a beatnik on speed writing Roman history, he said. I assume it was a compliment. Inevitably, though, epileptic writing leaves me sick–literally nauseous, dazed, out of it. A Sonny Rollins review once put me to bed it left me so ill. I feel like that and wonder how the hell Dostoevsky managed so many perfect novels, each as long as the Manhattan phone book. The poor bastard must have been sick all the time. I know I’ve avoided writing another piece like that Sonny review. If I feel myself getting that deep I pull back, make a wisecrack, take it down a notch or two in intensity. I don’t like to write myself sick.

Anyway, on Tuesday I was finally able to take Tegretol again. It’s the champagne of bottled medicines, you know, quite the luxury at over three bucks a pill. Within a couple hours I could feel it, in the long neurons that run the length of our arms and legs. It’s like they mellow out. That’s what Tegretol does, it settles down the neurons, or settles down their synapses anyway, which spark and cause the potassium in the neuron (aka the nerve cell) to flip sides and fire the synapse that sparks the next neuron to keep the impulse going. Too much of this activity you seize, not enough, say to your heart muscle, you die. Tegretol keeps everything at a sweet medium.

We drove around doing a bunch of chores on Tuesday (I’d really missed driving) and once our tasks were out of the way I sat down at the computer and began writing. And writing. And writing. All these pent up words came pouring out. I just couldn’t stop writing. I kept returning to my desk and out popped another story. I was like a blueballed teenager in a room full of cheerleaders, frantically releasing what had been pent up for too long. Just writing and writing, sometimes all night long into the morning. A few hours sleep and then back at it. Hell, that’s what this piece is. Just some silly essay about an epileptic’s hypergraphic world, in case you were wondering where the hell all these stories are coming from, not that any of you actually were. This is just writing for its own sake. That hole in my brain has a strange power over me sometimes. But it’s been there as long as I’ve been alive, so I’m used to it. Consider it a blessing, a reader told me. No, I said, I consider it a pain in the ass. And then I wrote about it.