Epilepsy

Prince Rogers Nelson

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Sunday morning, it is quiet outside. Even the road feels quiet, nothing like the usual matatu and boda boda madness. This happens every Sunday morning. The whole world slows down. Faithfuls go to church to unburden themselves and to also get blessings for the week ahead. I search for Prince’s “purple rain” in my play list and switch my speakers’ volume to full blast.

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you
Bathing in the purple rain

A lot of us have heard ‘Purple Rain, most of us know its lyrics by heart. It is one of those songs that keep the memory of Prince Rogers Nelson alive among us. The younger generation know about Prince just because of this song; Purple Rain. But Prince sung and performed other songs too. One such song that caught my attention is; The sacrifice of a Victor.
Here are the lyrics from ‘The sacrifice of a Victor’;

I was born on a blood stained table
Cord wrapped around my neck
Epileptic till age of seven
I was sure heaven marked the Deck

This song, the Sacrifice of a Victor is one of the most courageous songs I have ever heard. In the song, Prince confesses that he was epileptic as a child.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by excessive electrical discharges from the brain resulting in seizures or convulsions. In our set up, most communities treat it as a taboo disease that afflicts the lowly, the cursed, and the ungodly.

While it is possible to lead a relatively normal life with epilepsy, a lot of men and women who suffer from epilepsy lead a less than normal life due to the huge stigma that surrounds epilepsy. Most people believe it is brought about by witch craft, curses, disobedience etc.

Lil Wayne
Epilepsy is a disease that affects normal sometimes highly performing people, Lil Wayne for example suffers from epilepsy (did you know that?). Lil Wayne has suffered from convulsions since he was a young boy. Here is what he told MTV correspondent Sway Calloway about his seizures ; ‘no warning, no nothing, I don’t feel sick, I get headaches real bad.’ What we know for sure is that, the rapper has suffered a number of seizures even in his prominence as an award winning rapper. He has had two emergency landings due to seizures and he nearly died in 2013 due to seizures.

While epilepsy has no definitive treatment currently, anti-convulasants can be used to effectively prevent the convulsions from occurring. Anti convulsants are drugs that are usually administered to prevent convulsions from occurring. They are prescription drugs that are normally prescribed by a physician. The type and number of drugs that one epileptic person receives normally depends on their age, severity of symptoms and whether they are pregnant or not.

When anticonvulsants are used correctly, one is able to lead a normal life with very few or no seizures. Other high achieving people with epilepsy include, Susan Boyle the famous Britain has got talent contestant, Neil Young, a musician and song writer and Theodre Roosevelt who was the 26th president of USA. This list no doubt contains immensely talented people who throughout their lives achieved more than those without epilepsy.

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APRIL; AUTISM MONTH #LIGHTITUPBLUE#

I bet we all remember Susan Boyle; a Scottish singer who first came to international attention in 2009 after appearing as a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent. She stood before an audience in “Clyde Auditorium” and said that she was trying to become a professional singer (at forty) and that she hoped to be as successful as Elaine Paige (The audience smirked at her on hearing this). She performed the song “I dreamt a dream” so beautifully and so powerfully, everyone including the judges was surprised. They hadn’t expected much from her. She finished second in the contest, losing to the dance troop ‘Diversity’. Every time I am in need of inspiration, I go to you tube and watch her performing “I dreamt a dream”, while ignoring all the people in the congregation who were waiting for her to falter so they can burst out laughing. Susan Boyle was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (now autism spectrum disorder) in 2012. She made her diagnosis public in 2013. Now, autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by; difficulty in social interaction, challenges in communication and restricted repetitive behavior. World Autism Awareness Day is marked every second day of April as a way to raise the awareness of autism. April is autism awareness month. Autistic children and adults live in our world, amongst us; hence, we cannot afford to be ignorant about autism!

Parents and guardians will first notice symptoms in their children during the second and third years of life. Symptoms vary depending on the age of the patient and severity of the disease. Here are the “defining” symptoms of autism:
speech
1. Delay or lack of development of spoken language. This is often the reason why parents will seek for help.
2. Those who are able to speak are unable to start or sustain a conversation with others
Many children exhibit echolalia i.e repeat phrases and words they hear.
Impaired social interaction-

1. They lack emotional reciprocity
2. John Elder Robinson, said; ‘and I know it is perfectly natural for me not to look at someone when I talk. Those of us with Asperger’s are not comfortable doing it. In fact, I don’t know why it is considered normal to stare at someone’s eyeballs”
Autistics lack non-verbal cues; they are unable to maintain eye contact, unable to understand and use gestures, lack facial expressions and other forms of non-verbal communication.
3. They are unable to adjust behavior to suit social contexts. Hence they are unable to develop, maintain and understand relationships!

Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities,
1. They insist on sameness and adhere to routine in an inflexible way.
They may have to sit in a particular chair, dress in a particular way, or eat particular foods every single day.
They become quite distressed if a routine is disrupted.

2.Insensitive to pain or temperature, light or noise.
They are prone to injury since they can withstand extreme pain and temperature.

3.Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech –

simple motor stereotypes, lining up of toys, flipping of objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic phrases
4 they have highly restricted and fixated interests.
They become fascinated with parts of an object for example the wheels of a car.
5.though some will have intellectual disability, others have normal intelligence. Some have very specific talents or abilities especially in music and mathematics. Susan Boyle?

Parents whose children have been diagnosed with autism live in constant fear. They worry their children will hurt themselves, they worry they will grow too fast and the world will hurt them, they worry they will have to face the world someday alone, and the world will not know how to handle them! These are all genuine worries. The good news is that there are others who have done it! I know that most of us have heard about Susan Boyle, but maybe we haven’t heard of other autists like John Elder Robinson, who grew up knowing he was different and was only diagnosed with autism(Asperger’s) at the age of forty by his therapist friend. He taught himself about electric circuits and sound waves and used the self- taught knowledge to design guitars and toys. Then there is Temple Grandin a professor of animal science, consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior and autism spokesperson and there is Kerry Magro who was diagnosed with autism at four but went on to beat all the odds and became a professional speaker and a best-selling author. These are just but a few of autists who have gone on to become great despite having autism. And who tells you that your child cannot become as great if not greater?

There was a time Temple Grandin wouldn’t talk! “I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream.