If there is a plus side to a diagnosis of epilepsy, it is this: the opportunity to meet regularly with a neuropsychologist who has the power, through her arsenal of materials and incisive intellect, to ascertain exactly where your child’s strengths reside and those areas where additional attention may need to be paid.
Our eight-year-old son Edgar lost two-and-a-half years of his early schooling to undiagnosed ADHD, epilepsy, and the side effects of anti-seizure remedies. From age five to seven-and-a-half, he operated under the haze of medication, necessary though it was, the threat of seizures, and the feeling, as one struggling with ADHD, that he was crawling out of his skin. That there are gaps in his learning isn’t surprising; that he learned anything at all is nothing short of miraculous.
However, this week we heard—from the expert who would know—that all is well. He is thriving, and his potential for learning is as vast as yours or mine—and maybe more. He is positive, motivated, and will be able to do whatever it is he wants. The world is his—and though we always believed it, it is nice to know it.
But this post isn’t about Edgar’s most recent triumphs, as worthy of a post and a celebration though they are. It is about his brother Oscar, who, roughly a year-and-a-half ago, said something about his brother I have never forgotten. He asked me, when Edgar was in the throes of his most debilitating seizures, if Edgar would be able to learn. Oscar understood, even then, due to his own need to know and our careful explanations, that seizures were caused by intense electrical activity in the brain. He knew thinking and learning happened in the brain, so it wasn’t a stretch for him to make the next leap.
I told him that Edgar will be able to do anything anyone else can, that we just have to believe in him.
He asked me then if everyone will believe in Edgar or if some people think epilepsy hurts your brain.
I talked to him about the stigma of epilepsy, about the discrimination those who have it faced.
Then Oscar said, “Well, I can’t wait to take Edgar around in about ten years and show him off to everyone who ever doubted he could do it. I’ll put him in my car and drive him around myself just to show everyone how great he became.”
Two brothers driving around, one so proud of the other he is compelled to show him off, to let the world know when someone believes in you, loves you, the world is yours; the other one the living embodiment of that fact.
If that doesn’t give you hope, nothing will.