I have learnt to seize the day...

Thursday, March 2, 2017
i have learnt to seize the day...
Subi Samuel

It was our family friend’s 70th birthday and celebrations were in full swing. We were at a five-star hotel in Bandra (Mumbai). The party offered everything — psychedelic lights,peppy music and my pals. Suddenly, I felt strange, I felt being in a very different space; the world around me was spinning. I felt disoriented. And I was losing control over my body -- my hands got stiff and my legs froze. 

I fell on the ground and blanked out. There was panic in the party.

They rushed me to a nearby hospital, where the doctors stabilised me. I was then shifted to a well-known hospital in Andheri. There I underwent several tests — blood tests, CT Scan, MRI, etc. The doctors at the hospital told me that I had suffered  an epileptic seizure, but the tests could not establish the reason.

They prescribed a few medicines and asked me to take them regularly for the next seven years.

My wife and I took some time to recover from this unexpected jolt. We were scared of a repeat for the first few weeks. My wife would often check on me during the night, she would call me during my shoots to check if I was feeling fine. She didn’t leave me alone at home. I too avoided venturing out alone.
Slowly, the fear subsided and we moved on with our busy lives.

I thought it was over.

After a few months of taking the medicines, I started feeling absolutely fine and so stopped taking them. I have always been the person who takes care of the body like a temple. I have been into physical exercises, am regular with the gym, and follow a healthy diet.

Somewhere in my mind, I couldn’t reconcile to the idea of taking medicines when I was already following everything possible to be healthy and fit. I took the epileptic seizure as a one-off episode.

I was wrong.

Within a month of stopping my medicines, it came back. This time I was at the Bengaluru airport. I remember I was near the exit gate, saw my driver standing there with a placard with my name. As I walked towards him, I sensed the seizure coming.

This time it started with hallucinations. Soon, I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I was in the hospital, surrounded by doctors, airport and medical staff.

Again, I underwent the same set of tests. This time a different team of doctors tried  to find a cause of my seizure but couldn’t. And again they asked me to follow their prescription religiously.

For the first time in my life, I felt odd because I had lost control over my body, which I had taken great care of.

I decided to dig deeper, I wanted to find out the cause of seizures. My mother told me that as a kid, I used to have febrile convulsions at times. But they had stopped soon.

I decided to dig deeper, I wanted to find out its cause. My mother told me that as a kid, I used to have febrile convulsions at times. But they had stopped soon.The doctors assured me that these had no co-relations. My wife spent hours on the internet reading various known and unknown causes of epileptic seizures. We thought there could be some triggering factors to it. We minutely studied the two situations when I had the seizures and realised that it could be psychedelic lights, loud noise, or even crowded atmosphere in my case.

I wanted to take charge of my body again, and I was ready to do anything for that.  A good friend of mine, not a doctor but someone with a little experience in such cases, suggested that I should switch to vegan meals. Since there was no harm in trying his advice, I followed it. 

I was back to my healthy self. I could do my workouts and I was back to my camera and lights. And  gave up the medicines again.

And the seizure was back.  Ironically, I was in the gym this time. I told my personal trainer that I felt a  seizure coming, but before he could react I had fallen unconscious. I felt quite disheartened at the repeat of the seizures.

A week later, I was shooting with Leander Paes, a very good friend. He felt that I was not my original self. When I told him about the convulsions, he introduced me to Dr. Bhim Sen Singhal , director, department of neurology, Bombay Hospital. I am on his prescription now.  

Dr Singhal told me about various types of seizures, their known and unknown causes. He told me that there are times when even the best of doctors cannot find a definitive cause to a disease. 

Mine was such a case. He told me that I am lucky at least I had effective medicines to deal with the seizures. He asked me to take medicines without fail, even when I feel fit.

Now, I know that seizures can invade and attack anytime. I have to accept them and learn to live with them. I am doing everything to minimise the possibility of a repeat - I changed my diet, I don’t take milk and milk products, am  careful about the amount of meat I consume, I avoid parties and pubs with neon, psychedelic lights.
And I take other precautions too -- I don’t go swimming alone and also avoid driving long distances.  I do not want to be behind the wheel if the seizure comes again. I cannot afford to ignore that possibility. It’s been a year-and-half since my last seizure. 

I have given up some of my favourite activities in life, but I don’t mind. The fact that I have had seizures keeps me cautious and guarded.  

The writer is one of India’s best-known celebrity photographers  

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