Hi there…. erm my name is Lawrence, the ‘erm’ was for I am not used to doing things like this (talking about me!). I can talk about anything and everything but getting to the subject ‘me’ is like to trying to hack through NASA’s firewall. Disclaimer: in no time in my life have I tried to do this, I don’t want to be extradited to the USA for hacking charges.
I’m a former Computer Science teacher and Head of Faculty at a secondary school that I used to go to (yeah a little sad I know) . In addition to this I also run a successful web design and hosting company. The idea was forged at the age of 19 in the back of my ICT lesson-where we were meant to be paying attention. I suppose that’s what got me into teaching; making sure that students like me are engaged in their education and are supported to reach their full potential. Now that’s the part I really do love about my job. I love keeping fit and active; sprinting in my younger days and an avid gym goer in my twenties and still am but it takes me longer to recover.
I also suffer from epilepsy; I was diagnosed with this at the age of 17. I’ll always remember the day, it was on Christmas eve and I just come home from a 12 hour shift at Marks and Spencer’s. I got in the shower, had some real hard back African food and was ready to kick my feet to watch Star Wars (many people don’t know that I’m a geek, I wear cool very well apparently!) I can’t really remember the following events that led to my first attack, however I do remember waking up on a stretcher going into an ambulance feeling confused. I remember waking again in the early hours of Christmas day in the hospital courtesy of a singing drunk who had the scent to match. My whole body hurt, I felt like I’d been in the boxing ring with Mike Tyson and did more rounds than Frank Bruno.
The doctors visited me and informed me they were unsure of what caused that attack and they were going to refer me to a neurologist. Who later confirmed it was Idiopathic epilepsy (which basically means they don’t know the triggers for it). I was put on medication for it, which seemed to manage it for while. I was able to continue living the dream (can only Americans say that?). In my second year of university I, had a severe epileptic attack, which resulted in me losing my short term memory of the last few years. I had four exams the following week, which would determine if I could go onto the next year. There was no way I could sit those exams as I couldn’t remember any of the content or even starting university, in my head I only remembered being in college. I didn’t even recognise …how do I put this… my more mature face, which came as a shock to me. I was obviously petrified by what was happening but didn’t want wait a year to retake the exams so I took them two months later and learnt all the content that other people had a year to learn. Thankfully I passed all of them so I guess you could say for a brief moment I flirted with being a genius.
Things settled down with my health and I seemed to have gained all my memory back again, but how does one know if they regained all their memory?? There are still some moments when people say things and I am like what the fuck? Did that happen? Was I there? Anyway I managed to graduate with a 2:1 in Software Engineering. As I stated earlier I went on to become a teacher in my old secondary school. Life seemed to be going fine and the business was going from strength to strength and then the blasted epilepsy started to create severe problems. I suffered a series of epileptic attacks, which prompted the doctors to begin playing about with my medication. I started to notice I was having memory problems. I told no one about this and felt gradually I was losing myself to my condition. I wasn’t able to remember the simplest things; I would often miss place items and find them in the most obscure places such as my phone in the fridge or the remote in the kitchen cupboard. Other symptoms such as myoclonic jerks occurred more frequently (uncontrollable jerky movements in legs or hands) which I could no longer hide as I started spilling coffee on myself or others, and not being able to eat in public as lifting the fork sometimes didn’t go to plan. My speech suffered a little; words sometimes came out all jumbled up or not at all. But in all of this, things were sort of manageable and I could still try to hide some of the symptoms.
On the 19th July 2014 the last day of term before the summer holidays I suffered my worst attack to date (how ironic…in two weeks I was about to fly to the Dominican Republic to chill out). This resulted in me being hospitalised with severe knee pains, which meant I could not move, or control my limbs. This in turn led to me spending 3 weeks in hospital whilst being poked and prodded as they tried to figure out the origin of my pain. X-rays, blood and urine tests, ultrasounds, CT scans, EEG’s the full works and still no conclusive answers (at least I can say I got my money’s worth of treatment on the NHS). I must mention the drugs; codeine, paracetamol, 30mg morphine and many more every 4 hours on the clock. Drugged up but yet the pain would still creep through. I was unable to walk for 2 weeks; my left leg couldn’t move at all. In this time I had back-to-back seizures, I think the highest count in one day was 4.
So I am writing this blog as a way to document my life. The doctors have told me that my mobility and memory are likely to decline at a quicker rate than most people as I get older, so this is a way for me to share my story with you. It is a place where I can reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly points of my life. If I am blessed with the opportunity to have children and if I am not quite myself they can read this blog to see the man their daddy was before he changed. I don’t want it to be a sad place; hopefully it will be a place where others can draw strength. Life is a battle but I intend to dominate it!
In all of this I have been blessed with some wondrous people who have journeyed with me through these challenging times and have always supported me. This blog is also a way to say thank you to my gladiators.