Tag Archives: Life

Life is a river #amwriting

Most people have struggled in their personal life at one time or another. During the years I was raising my children, I had three failed marriages, worked three part-time jobs, and it was hard to find time to write.

We came through the lean times as a tight-knit family. But I think of life as being like a river, because you never know what is around the bend. By the time my last chick left the nest, I had gained financial security, but a new difficulty arose.

Two of my children developed adult onset epilepsy, a complication which has made our comfortable life… interesting.

When you look at the statistics detailing the age of all patients at the time of their first seizure, the number of those whose first documented seizure occurs after reaching adulthood is far higher than those who experience it as children.

Yet little research has been done to document the experience of living with a seizure disorder as an adult.

They once lived their lives the way normal adults do. They used to be able to legally drive a car without endangering other people, to say nothing of themselves. They didn’t have to worry that a short flight of stairs could kill them or that cooking their breakfast could send them to a long stay in the burn unit.

There is anger, confusion. Why me? What did I do wrong? What can I change? There is even denial–it can’t be epilepsy; it’s never going to happen again.

The truth is, no one knows what causes most forms of epilepsy, and each patient responds to the medications differently. And every well-meaning auntie in the universe has sage advice to offer, despite not having any experience with it. “Try marijuana.” “Go on a Keto diet.” These are effective treatments for some people, but not for everyone, and not my son or daughter.

There is no miracle drug or diet out there at this time.

Epilepsy is not a poster-child kind of disease, so funding for research is limited. At this point, because the cause is rarely knowable, all the medical community can do is offer drugs to control the symptoms. Most times, seizure disorders are not operable, unless it is a tumor or some other obvious thing. When you look at the wide spectrum of patients with adult onset, you see those “easy-to-find with an MRI” causes are quite rare.

Many, like my son, are never quite able to get it under control, and it affects their jobs, their relationships, and their ability to live a fully independent life.

Others, like my daughter, go many years between seizures, and their lives are mostly unaffected by it. She has her own business, volunteers at her son’s school and is also the co-chairwoman of the PTA there.

Both of my children have suffered terrible injuries during seizure episodes. Both have spent time in the hospital, had to have surgeries to repair wounds incurred, and no one has ever been able to find the cause of their seizures.

Writing has been an escape that kept me sane when nothing was certain except my daughter and son were in terrible trouble, and the doctors didn’t know why and couldn’t cure it. The medical community wants to cure it, but the way this condition affects each sufferer is different, which frustrates the doctors as much as the patients.

For many people, after they have a large seizure event, there is a post-seizure stage where they suffer an altered state of consciousness. This can be dangerous if they are alone. They’re locked in a dream and make no sense when they speak. As they begin to come out of that stage, they’re unable to think clearly, can’t focus their attention or follow a conversation. This altered state is like sleepwalking and sleep-talking, which is why it’s dangerous. As they move out of this stage, they will also have problems with short term memory, and may have decreased verbal and interactive skills.

Fortunately, that is a temporary thing, lasting only one or two hour for some, but it can go one or two days for my son. After recovering from that stage, it still takes about two weeks for my son to get back to where he can think clearly enough to work on whatever project he is doing. He can’t be alone then, but  between his wonderful girlfriend and I, we care for him until he can be on his own again.

This post-seizure state cost my son his long-time job (ten years) as a software developer at Amazon and made it difficult for him to find work elsewhere. Most employers can’t accommodate an employee who is randomly unable to work for two weeks, two or three times a year.

After a time of intense depression and searching for answers that don’t exist, my son decided to be proactive. He started his own company, doing what he loves. He is now writing his own software and apps and is his own boss so he can work around his situation.

We could allow this epilepsy thing to overshadow our every waking moment, but that would change nothing. Research, they say, is ongoing, but nothing has changed treatment-wise since my daughter’s first seizure at the age of twenty-eight—sixteen years ago. My children still sometimes have seizures, and we have learned to laugh and enjoy our life despite the occasional setback.

The hours spent in hospitals as my son or daughter recovered from injuries incurred during a seizure helped forge my writing. Life is what happens when we aren’t on that merry-go-round, and other than that, our lives are good.

Life is a journey, and you never know what lies around the corner, but a sense of humor can be a solace when nothing else is. Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge, says: Gallows humor has the social effect of strengthening the morale of the oppressed and undermines the morale of the oppressors. According to Wylie Sypher, “to be able to laugh at evil and error means we have surmounted them.”

Laughing and making crude jokes about the situation is how we survive the chaos and fear—it is what gets us through to the better days that wait just beyond the battle. Life can deal us a hand full of the worst cards, and epilepsy is not the end of the world.

My father’s career in the military ended when he lost his left leg as a result of a bone infection–he was forced into retirement after 15 years of service. While he was in the hospital, his family lost everything when their farm burned to the ground. He had survived WWII, but lost his brother in Korea. Yet despite what he had been through in France and the losses on the home front, he had a wicked sense of humor and an enormous passion for life.

Other people inspire me to avoid self-pity. I have two writing companions, one here in Washington state and one in California. Both are paralyzed, life changing events that would be devastating to any family. Yet they made it through the dark days and live every day to the fullest. Both have wonderful laughs, both make me feel weak in the face of their power and self-determination.

Loss of limbs, loss of physical independence, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of dignity, loss of face—we all deal with loss and hard times in one way or another.

But in between those rough times, we have times of happiness and joy, forgetting the pain and anger for a moment. Those are the precious hours we have earned, and they are the real life we are given.

Life is a river. What the river has taken is gone, and we can’t get it back, but the currents are carrying us in a different direction, to new shores. Yes, we must adapt to these changes, but that is what humans do.

My life is good today, and easy as compared to last summer. “Easy” won’t always be the case, so I am enjoying it while I have it. Life is always in a state of change, and when I next find myself in the midst of chaos and pain, I will try to think of the good things I still have, and I will find a way to be grateful.

We none of us know what the future holds—all we can ever really be sure of is this moment, this minute, and this beautiful day.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Gallows humor,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gallows_humor&oldid=759474185     (accessed  July 22, 2018).

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#amwriting: Dinosaurs Among the Birds

This week has been a challenge–life has conspired against my ability to write. So, being an ecologically minded person, today’s blog post is an essay, recycled from my archives.


I graduated from high school in 1971. My friends and I were so close in those years and we have held onto those connections, despite the rough seas of young adult life. We drifted apart during the ‘blender years,’ but as our children left home and our lives became more our own, we drifted back together.

Forty-six years ago, we were young and wild, determined to carve our path in the world and desperate to get on with living. We were tired of the war, tired of politics, and tired of being told what to think by a media that was controlled by pin-headed men in suits. We were tired of Congress selling us out.

We were going to change the world.

We did change it, but not exactly the way we naively believed we would. Even though we were unable to solve all the problems we wanted to, we did manage to make some positive changes. Unfortunately, we were too few, voices shouting in the wind.

And now we are somewhat jaded. The country is still divided, big money still buys votes. Congress is still selling out, and the media is still owned by pin-headed men in suits. There is always a war somewhere, and it is never done with.

My generation clings to our belief that we will see positive changes, but we don’t believe we’ll live long enough to enjoy them. Nevertheless, change is inevitable and it will happen, even if, like Moses and the promised land, we stand on the opposite shore and see only what yet may be.

My old friends and I are not exactly who we were in those wild days. Now we’re an amalgamation of everything we once believed would happen and the reality we lived. We are people who survived Reaganomics, who survived raising children through the MTV years. We held down three part-time jobs because trickle-down economics didn’t really trickle down the social ladder to our rung, and we had kids to feed.

We survived the Bush years with some of our dignity intact and didn’t fold under the “you’re with us, or you’re against us” propaganda designed to shut us up. We will survive whatever comes our way with the current regime because old wood is tough wood and doesn’t break easily.

We are jaded, but we have hope, we old hippies, we old women and men who are dinosaurs among the birds of the modern, hyper-connected world. We still believe small businesses feed more families and provide more jobs than big corporations do, and are therefore more deserving of the tax breaks that Corporate America extorts from the public coffers. We believe in the American dream of entrepreneurship, that the world can be a better place for everyone. The difference is now we know we can change the world… just not in the way we thought we would.

Now we put our money where our mouth is, donating to charities and spending our retirement years volunteering in schools and hospitals. We do it in small ways, chipping away, and little by little we have a positive effect.

We lost the battle to make the world a simpler, kinder place. Our parents were The Greatest Generation, and they won the second World War with their firm, 20th century belief that only through technology would mankind benefit, and that somewhere a miracle drug was waiting, one able to cure every disease known to man.  It just hadn’t been discovered yet. Now the drug companies have the government’s balls in one hand and a claw-like grip on our pocketbooks with the other. That hoped-for miracle cure is still somewhere out there on the horizon, and likely always will be.

My generation was conquered, despite the struggle to keep it simple. We old hippies now embrace technology and make it ours. We do this because we must either adapt or die, and I am not ready to die. We are a wired society, and we old people have the luxury of a little free time and occasionally, extra money. So, we have become wired.

Writing is my opportunity to live in the world as I would like it to be, and it is my chance to get away from the war, from politics, from the problems of everyday life. Writing is my escape.

I support creativity and free-thinking on a local level. I volunteer as municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. I encourage people from all walks of life, and from every point of view to write. It doesn’t matter to me if we agree politically or not. Everyone has a story to tell. Some stories are real and incredibly moving, and all the writer needs is the skill to tell that story the way it should be told.

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbThey can gain that skill through participating in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Children and schools benefit year-round from writing programs sponsored by this organization. For me, November is the busiest month of the year. I will be meeting and getting to know many new people, and I will be writing the framework for a new novel.  For one month, thousands of people will be too busy writing to spend their evening in front of the electronic altar, being fed mindless pap in the form of ‘entertainment.’ Instead, they will entertain themselves and find they are so much more than they ever thought they could be.

With every new book that is written, each new magazine article or essay, the world opens its eyes a bit more, seeing more possibilities. Readers discover they are not islands disconnected from society, cocooned in dark living-rooms, unable to look away from the poorly crafted mind-porn we are force-fed by the big networks.

I am an old hippy, I admit it. But I am water, wearing away at ignorance, helping the world learn how to tell its story one person at a time.


Dinosaurs Among the Birds, by Connie J. Jasperson was first published 17 May 2017 on the  myrddinpublishing.com blog, http://www.myrddinpublishing.com/dinosaurs-among-birds/.

American Flag By Michael Dorausch (Flickr: American flag) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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#flashfictionfriday: Old Peoples’ Gardens

Henry_Roderick_Newman_-_Anemones_and_Daffodils_(15815149940)

Chill and rainy, spring has come

The Ides of March are near.

And all around the garden brown

Shades of green appear.

Though wind and rain still beat the ground

And mud does claim the day,

A secret green lies tightly furled

And soon will have its say.

In gardens up and down the street

Are hints of green and gold.

In old peoples’ gardens, Daffodils

Are shining proud and bold.

Old people’s gardens keep the faith,

Their greening shrubs declare,

That Winter’s grip must surely fade

For Spring is in the air.


Old Peoples’ Gardens, © 2017 Connie J. Jasperson, All Rights Reserved

Anemones and Daffodils, Henry Roderick Newman (1843 – 1917) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Mortality and Wine

Shakespeare_ICountMyselfLeft Behind —

The twisty path that life takes us down sometimes brings us into the circle of a person we can call friend. We may meet at the home of a mutual friend, or we may meet in a writing group. Over time we get to know and like them. We look forward to seeing them; indeed, we expect to see them at certain parties, as if they were the underpinning of the entire event.

When they are suddenly taken from this life with no advance warning, you are stunned, feeling as if you were ambushed by their death.

Perhaps it was a close friend, or maybe it was a person you were only beginning to know well. Either way we are faced with a disconcerting feeling of being left behind—not that we wanted to die, but rather that we didn’t want a person we cared about to leave without us.

Days of Wine and Roses quote copyWhen a parent, a spouse, a sibling or a child dies, there are no words to describe the pain. The same goes for the death of that friend who is your other half, your ‘bestie’, your brother-in-arms.

The friend who would help you bury the body.

That loss is a tearing, shattering pain time may ease, but which always leaves a scar. Every person handles this experience in a different way. Some of us become better people through surviving a devastating personal loss, and some do not.

The death of a friend who is more than simply an acquaintance, yet not intimately tangled in your life is a different kind of loss.

 It’s one we will all experience, and perhaps it’s not as profound as the loss of your best friend, but it is no less shocking and disconcerting. That death is experienced differently than if he were a friend who is a close family member.

bestwinefriendsHe is someone we had known only a few years, a friend we were only beginning to really know. He is someone who is in many ways a mystery although we regularly met at parties and social events. He is someone with whom we have enjoyed long conversations over wine and cheese, shared risqué jokes, and laughed at the incongruities of life.

We had only started to walk the road of life together, only begun to know him as a traveling companion, and suddenly he is gone.

When a friend who is not yet close to you dies, a hole is left in your life, a hole filled with possibilities, packed with the prospect of what your friendship could have grown into, given more time and more parties.

friendship-picture-quotes_11694-0Although it’s comforting to know that he touched more lives than just ours, it’s hard to realize we’ll never talk about wine with him again, never see him standing in that spot he always claimed in Nancy’s kitchen, never see him and his little dogs again.

Never hear him tease, “Vegan chili is an oxymoron,” as he serves himself at the buffet.

It’s hard to imagine him going alone into that unknowable frontier we must all eventually pass into, hard to imagine him letting go of this life when he was so vivid and filled with energy and passion for his art the last time we saw him. I will never pour a glass of wine again without thinking of our good friend who loved the craft and the art of wine-making so much, and whose wines were the source of many happy moments for many more people than just me.

LesMis_Wine-Of-Friendship_smHis many friends are now feeling the same sense of loss and confusion I am feeling. My heart goes out to his close family and to our dear friends Michael and Nancy, intimate friends of his who are stunned and bereft; loved ones who still can’t believe he’s gone.

Patrick—our glass will always be half-full, because of the joy and companionship of good friends like you.

winequotepage Gallileo

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