This is a book that I simply couldn’t put down – unless I was made to or it was necessity.
Having had a sneaky peak prior to publishing, I spent endless (and emotional) bus rides home glued to my cell phone, undefeated as I scrolled through reading chapters in the tiniest writing because my phone wouldn’t play ball and increase the font for me.
Once the book itself came through, I smashed it! Turning the pages had never been such a joy – regular sized font on paper!
I found Electro Girl to be raw, organic, honest, witty and with a degree of heart break because much of what was on those pages I could relate to.
One of the things that initially attracted me to Lainie through my work with FFWE, was her attitude and positivity towards her epilepsy. We share the same view, characteristics of dealing with epilepsy (i.e. for periods during our lives trying to ignore it!) plus an alternative approach to managing seizure activity, so it was an absolute joy to connect with someone who was similar to me.
Each and every one of us deals with the condition differently, why? There are so many variables; life, lifestyle and upbringing; geographic location; what information is available, the extent of our doctor’s knowledge along with the type of seizures and epilepsy we each have; fear and how our community reacts to epilepsy. Do people have an understanding of epilepsy or is it similar to that of a country like Cameroon where they are truly fighting hard to change the dire situation of genuine belief in possession, devils and evil? But that aside, the route that Lainie has taken shows a deep-rooted strength which not everyone possesses.
The book throughout oozes her personality. The humor and light heartedness with which it’s written is; however, somewhat bitter sweet. As someone with epilepsy, I can see the heart break which lurks beneath the surface and the necessity to use humor in order to get through each day. It’s a coping mechanism, we all have them. I thank my lucky stars this is Lainie’s as she has written the most inspiring account of her journey with epilepsy which will impact, I hope, huge numbers of people due to her ability of making it so accessible and engaging.
Setting the scene with her background from birth, one really gets a sense of who Lainie, and subsequently Electro Girl are, right from the start. The documentation of her beliefs, interests, the way she responds to what comes her way, both good and bad, provides a foundation for understanding her. She was thorough in laying the foundation for the reader to understand her perspective on life up to the present.
There is no sugar coating with Electro Girl, you hear it, warts and all, and uncensored. If you don’t like it, I could imagine in Lainie’s words she would respond with a casual, “F*ck off then!” It adds to the richness of her ‘adventures’ with Electro Girl. (Adventures is how I refer to mine so therefore, with a Superhero that seems most fitting too.) She elaborates upon the challenges and pain which she dealt with family and growing pains alone.
As she navigates through, jobs, relationships and travels, the defiance of not letting epilepsy get the better of her or her lack of acceptance is powerful. Her mentality of choosing to undertake an activity knowing the possible risks involved but doing anyway is something painfully familiar. One particular excerpt which made me laugh out loud on the bus, was the skydiving incident. She undertook a tandem skydive of 11,000 feet without disclosing the epilepsy. Whilst she was absolutely fine, her skydiving partner who was without any condition, vomited into a bag at 9,000 feet. There were a few tears of laughter from me and some very strange looks from the people on the bus I can assure you!
So, the diagnosis. I was overwhelmed by the resilience that was expressed when dealing with the seizures. Ignorance is bliss springs to mind, purely from the perspective of it being yet another coping mechanism for a period of time. This isn’t by any means a criticism of Electro Girl as it’s often one of the developmental processes prior to acceptance.
Her candidness of stating what many don’t want to or aren’t ready to hear, (that we have to take partial if not more responsibility for our own health), is deeply refreshing. Not being a fan of pill popping unless absolutely necessary, much like myself her attitude of pursuing the orthodox route to get the information and subsequently taking that and undertaking additional research, is by far a much tougher route to take. There are many dead ends and disappointments along the way but these are necessary as a process of elimination. This may put some off and one hears the echo of, “It’s too much work” or “I don’t have the time”; therefore, putting the seizure disorder in the hands of the doctor and skipping off into the sunset with the hope that everything will be just fine (my words not hers). Her endless research and exploration demonstrates the determination she has to heal and be in the best place possible. This could be, for example, solely holistically through meditation, nutrition and the use of CBD oil or it could be complementary medicine and orthodox medicine combined. She conveys the importance of remaining open and the positive health benefits that outlook may have.
What is also welcome as a reader is that she does not preach. Her story is out there, her experiences, what she has tried over the years, what she has found helpful and what was not. The last few chapters, she bravely opens up exposing her vulnerability and the discomfort that that brings when talking honestly about epilepsy and seizures. She uses it so that it may help others, should they choose a comparable route.
So, as I write my closing paragraph, I have to say just how proud I am to write this review. This is an enormous accomplishment for Lainie and I am so fortunate to be working with her in raising awareness for epilepsy and our parallel advocacy. It surprises me how the most unexpected friendships develop. It shows me that distance and whether you have actually met someone has no bearing on connections which can be formed.
Congratulations Lainie you have achieved the ultimate, I’m so proud of you!