Mother Nature, such a treasured entity and highly underrated. She surrounds us in so many ways but goes unnoticed as we become caught up in the everyday trivialities. My eyes were opened when her creations of inexpressible beauty were bestowed upon me on the stunning island of Kauai. From the majestic craggy canyon dotted with plunging waterfalls to the petite little lizards darting in and out of the foliage containing intricacies that overwhelm the human mind if you choose to really open your eyes and see past the immediacies of life.
It was during this time that I realized just how small and insignificant we humans are in comparison to the big wide world. The elements and the beings that evolved for hundreds of years before we existed continue to maintain the legacy of their species with a silent strength.
As I sat on my lounger basking in the warmth of the sunshine and reading, every so often I lowered my book to watch the palm trees swaying from side to side and admiring Mother Nature’s splendid work which quite frankly, isn’t too shabby! On peeking over the top of my book I had the unexpected delight of seeing a little lizard wandering around in the hot sun. Unaware of my presence and watchful eyes, he proceeded to go about his business. His coloring was various stripy shades of brown. It supplied him with a camouflage effective enough to exclude him from the prying eyes of birds should they mistake him for a tasty snack. Perfectly motionless whilst he checked his surroundings, he intermittently cocked his head to the side extending his dewlap. He had one back leg lifted in a ‘yoga-esque’ position which was held with such stillness that I was put to shame when I was reminded of the stamina (or lack of) that I had when attending my yoga classes!
It was his camouflage that got me thinking. How useful a tool to possess to use in everyday life? From the perspective of living with a condition such as epilepsy, at times it could be a real saving grace. With the experiences I have had over the last thirty years, the absence seizures have understandably presented occasions when there has been a need to explain my situation primarily for safety reasons. Many didn’t know about epilepsy so there was a need to convey the details and educate which is the basis of raising awareness. The knowledge provided could potentially be used in the future if necessary; however, this process is a little exhausting for me!
I liken it to an actor attending an audition. I have a monologue that I have rehearsed which includes all the related aspects for the role. In order to fit with the character, for each audition I will need to tweak the monologue so it relates to the different elements required by the director. Additionally, I will need to be prepared to answer any questions.
Questions are an important component in the education of epilepsy and I am always so pleased that people have an interest and that they want to ask questions. If anything, I find they don’t want to ask because of a concern of causing offence! I am very open about my condition; however, it does create a certain amount of vulnerability to be in such a position. As I open up and communicate the necessary information, which at times is of an extremely personal nature, to a degree there’s a feeling similar to that of being naked (yes, strange I know!). It’s almost like everyone can see your body in all its glory which can bring a sense of embarrassment and self-consciousness. It’s on these occasions when providing the details and actually having the absence seizures that the camouflage would be desirable. Being able to go unnoticed to avoid explanations or the concern that people will assume you’re being rude or unintelligent if unable to keep up would, at times, be a blessing.
Purely by chance, I stumbled across a wonderful quote associated with the subject of camouflage which sums up how often some people with epilepsy can feel.
“I quickly, swiftly, reach in, pluck out, and peer into the mirror. ‘I am still here.’ I am in the glass, in this moment. After this moment, I may not be here; I may be a person who does not know where she is, or why. I leave the kitchen table to bathe, and to dress for church. If only my closet held on its shelves an array of faces I could wear rather than dresses, I would know which face to put on today. As for the dresses, I haven’t a clue.” – Tim Cummings ORPHAN stories
Painting by Masood Kohari