Three years ago, in the year 2013, I “misplaced” approximately 175 days of my life. I suppose my body decided that all of my life’s energy during that time was better spent on battling the monsters in my mind than retaining cognitive memory. My recollection of that time period disappears (quite conveniently) nearly the exact same time I was rushed to the emergency room — almost to the hour, in fact. It vanished rather abruptly, like a power outage; all of a sudden there was just blackness. And, in stark contrast, when conscious awareness finally returned, it was more akin to the dawning of a new day in winter; it came back slowly, a little at a time and never to its full strength.
Living with an autoimmune disease means living with many uncertainties. But there are many things you come to realize in time, that – had you known before – may have provided some small comfort along the way. And, let’s be honest, upon initial diagnosis when the whole world seems to have shifted and the life you had planned has been forever changed, we’ll take all the comfort we can get.
I’ve always been able to escape through music. music. No matter what I was struggling with, I could always find a song to help me cope or relate. I firmly believe that music has saved me from myself on more than one occasion. And even as I found myself drowning in the sea of encephalitis, I relied on the sweet escape of melody and lyrics to bring me through. I fell asleep listening to it, found comfort in it and even used it to communicate when my own words failed me
We, as humans, have contemplated, deliberated and sought to understand the concept of time, since, well… the beginning of time. The inevitability of its passing and the ensuing impact of its very existence on human lives has been a source of constant wonder in our ever-increasingly hectic lives. Each and every moment seems to be dictated (directly or indirectly) by the omnipresent ticking away of seconds, minutes, and hours.
I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with sleep. I used to have a t-shirt that read “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” That was, of course, back when my daily stamina seemed limitless and I couldn’t stand the thought of missing out on a single moment (a chaotic and, fortunately brief, side effect of young adulthood, to be sure). But I have always loved to sleep- and frankly, I was good at it!
In December of 2013, several media outlets had put together their usual round up of that year’s hot topics, trends, and newsworthy items. While others watched with amusement or recollection and even dismissal at things they’d already seen one too many times as they had unfolded in real time throughout the year, I sat enthralled, soaking it all in for the first time. For me it was like watching a documentary on the history channel – occurrences based on truth in another time and place where I couldn’t quite envision myself.
Growing up in my family, little kids were welcomed to play board games with the adults, but they could expect no quarter from anyone at the table. Anybody of any age could sit up and play, but nobody was going to throw the game just because an opponent happened to be young, old or infirm. It was cutthroat for sure.
“Did you really do that?” (Replace that with any number of aggressive actions that range from throwing trays of food at the wall, running down hospital corridors trying to escape or mimicking every conversation in the room.) These are the questions I get asked most often from those who have watched the Discovery Channel documentary episode about my battle with anti-NMDA.
The mind is a curious and wondrous machine. So many things about the brain are unknown and surely the vastness of its functions and failures are put on full display while under the influence of anti-NMDA. The various ways my brain responded to this attack, processed information under duress, and ultimately healed, continues to amaze me everyday.