Excuses, excuses, excuses (explanations?)

Temporal_Lobe_Epilepsy-3(You probably won’t think this is in the least bit funny. But it is. And I’m back to the Oprah-style confessional I’ve talked about before. I’ve written this experience here before. Well, it’s interesting enough—to me, at least—to bear repeating.)

Back in 1981 the rector of the church where I was organist sent me to talk to a psychiatrist who worked exclusively with alcoholics even though there was no indication that I was one. There was good reason for me to see him, but it wasn’t my problem.  It was someone else.

My insurance paid for six psychiatric visits. On the last visit it was obvious to the doctor that we had beat that horse to death and needed something else to talk about (this was back when psychiatrists were therapists, not pill-pushers). I decided to talk about my deepest darkest secret.

I knew that at times I could walk through walls. Yes, my mind was unconnected to my body, and it could pass through the wall to the next room. Several times in my life I had experimented to see if it was, in fact, true and had discovered it was not. But that did not lessen the very real belief based on the way I felt that I would eventually be able to do it.

He asked about other oddities of my mental experience which led me to tell him about the high b-flat pitch I sometimes heard, followed by white noise, followed by the sensation that I was looking down on myself and knew what was about to happen next because it had happened before. The good doctor told me he had been in medical school with neurologist whom he thought I should see. Dr. Norman Geschwind of Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Geschwind was too busy to see me, but one of his protégés, Dr. Donald Schomer, had time for me, and I very soon began my weekly treks into Beth Israel Hospital. The diagnosis was that I suffered from (suffered?) Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. Of course, CTScans and MRIs and sleep-deprived EEGs and all other manner of testing has never revealed any of the lesions in my brain that are thought to cause TLE, so I could be making the whole thing up simply for my own entertainment.

But I’m not. It’s too spooky and scary (especially as a kid sitting in Mrs. Hall’s second grade class at the Longfellow School in Scottsbluff, NE, in about 1953 when I first experienced it) to make up. And fantasy would not explain the last time I knew for certain I had a seizure—at Christmastime about five years ago when I approached the assistant manager of a Target store and told him I didn’t know where I was or why I was there and the next thing I knew I for sure, I was sitting in their Burger King and a policeman was down on one knee in front of me asking if I needed to go to the emergency room. In the meantime—well, I won’t tell you where I went in the meantime. You wouldn’t believe me, anyway.

geschwindDr. Geshwind posited what has become known as the “Geshwind Syndrome.” It’s weird:

Hyperrelogosity, Hyposexuality, Humorlessness and Hypergraphia with increased concern with philosophical, moral and religious issues, and extensive writing on religious or philosophical themes. Other features include aggression, pedantic speech, a “sticky” or compulsive personality. . . (1).

Three out of four ain’t bad. But then, other features apply, so who knows? About me, that is.

Is my extensive writing about “philosophical, moral and religious issues?” Well, yes, except I’m not as brilliant as Joseph Smith or Ellen White or Ann Lee. Do 110 posts here since January 31 (180 days ago, minus 16 in Europe when I wrote in pages on my iPad, minus the 50 or so I wrote and didn’t post) count as extensive writing? How many of them are about . . . issues? Aggression. Have I written about smashing my cane in the cathedral in Helsinki? Pedantic speech? Duh. Compulsive personality? Who, me? My friends might tell you that I have a pretty good sense of humor, but my basic outlook on life is essentially humorless (look at the description of this blog and tell me how many postings are humorous).

I have spent a good part of the last 32 years running away from the idea that God sent me to that psychiatrist for the very purpose of my meeting Dr. Schomer so that God could provide me with a name for those weird things that happen in my head. I don’t even believe in God.

Now don’t get all weird on me. I’m not claiming spiritual insight. I’ve never had a Near Death Experience, and I don’t feel the presence of God in my life. Many such experiences are connected with TLE. Read the Comings article if you want to know about them.

Here’s what I really want to say. TLE has many other co-presentations. Depression, sleep disorders, memory problems, inattentiveness.  It’s the memory problems and inattentiveness that are eating my lunch right now.
I forgot the appointment with my primary care physician that was necessary to prepare for the arthroscopic surgery scheduled for tomorrow to fix my hip. It’s caused problems for, well for everyone. I’m not saying TLE is to blame. I’m just saying that there are many things about my life that I wish were not so. I am senescent. But that kind of inattentiveness has been my lot at least since second grade. ___________
(1) Comings, David E. “The Neurobiology, Genetics and Evolution of Human Spirituality: The Central Role of the Temporal Lobes.” Neuroquantology 8.4 (2010): 478-494.

About Harold Knight
Retired English prof, SMU. Old man. Musician. Passionate about justice, equality, freedom. Therefore, I am a fervent supporter of and advocate for the Palestinian People as they struggle to survive genocide. That also means, of course, I have no use for US 45.

5 Responses to Excuses, excuses, excuses (explanations?)

  1. Angie MIkkelsen says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Alison says:

    I never would have described you as inattentive. Our internal realities can be so different from what another sees of us.

  3. Pingback: Me, senescent

  4. Pingback: Will beauty save the world? | Me, senescent

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