Saturday, September 7, 2013

Game-Changer:  Meet Lissa’s new friend, Epilepsy

It started a number of months ago – I began “checking out” for 30 seconds at a time, give or take.  While in my away state, I’d mumble things while staring off into space…and then I’d recover, knowing nothing of the episode that had just taken place.  The most recent episode occurred this summer while eating lunch. I stopped eating and began staring at my plate.  My family tried to get my attention; Jenna even reached across the table with her fork to steal food from my plate.  I did nothing except mumble in slurred speech.  Stew declared, “That’s it – we’re calling the doctor.”  And, thanks to Japan’s first-rate health care system, I got diagnosed through an EEG followed by an MRI…all in under a month’s time.  The conclusion:  epileptic complex partial seizures.


I must make a personal confession.  Those who know me well know that “helpless” has never entered my personal vocabulary.  I am one ambitious, resourceful, motivated, energetic, determined woman.  But alas, I’ve been diagnosed with an illness that plunges me smack in the middle of “helpless” territory.  In fact, the first consequence I learned of is that I am now forbidden from driving in Japan for a minimum of 3 years.  Ouch.  This historically independent woman is going to learn to depend on her husband more for daily things like trips to the store, shuttle service for kids to the train station on rainy days, and a host of other small tasks that I typically took care of. 

Stew has both loved and hated my independent nature.  He loves that I am a low-maintenance wife who doesn’t use helplessness to manipulate him.  At the same time, he hates the times when I push him away, determined to do things “my way” without a need for his involvement.  Despite the occasional struggle over the years, Stew and I have learned how to operate together as a “team,” collaborating on nearly everything related to family life and ministry.  Thankfully, this will greatly help us adjust to my “dependent” status without plunging our marriage into culture shock.

One significant finding is the doctor determined that my epilepsy stems from a congenital “anomaly” in my brain.  The rumor is true – I am certifiably brain-damaged!  Seems that the temporal lobes of my cortex are not quite symmetrical, and he suspects that my seizures are originating from the slightly misshapen left lobe.  What this means is that my life until now has taken place on a neuro-psychomotor precipice that has finally given way.  The thought floors me.  If epilepsy had manifested itself during my younger years, I would never have passed the military physical.  No air-refueling or navigating around East Asia.  No husband named Stew, seeing as I met him while I was in flight training.  If this had happened during my 30s, I would not have received medical clearance for full-time Christian service on mainland China.

So, who says that God is absent from our daily lives?  If anything, my “new” illness has proven to me that God is indeed, involved in the day-to-day affairs of human existence.  I will move forward, anti-seizure medication in hand, riding along in the passenger seat, steadfast in the knowledge that He has good plans for me, and He isn’t done with me quite yet.

Which makes me happy.  I want to stick around this planet long enough to exit this Japanese urban jungle and retreat to our wooded hillside in middle Tennessee!