Brain­storms

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Feature -

Au­gust bolts at ran­dom: While watch­ing tele­vi­sion, eat­ing break­fast, mid-con­ver­sa­tion, she just stands up and runs. While un­der ob­ser­va­tion, she is recorded hav­ing sev­eral “run­ning” seizures around the ward and hos­pi­tal. O’Sul­li­van de­scribes her “as like a sil­ver ball in pin­ball ma­chine, bounc­ing from tar­get to tar­get”. She di­ag­noses neu­ronal mi­gra­tion dis­or­der, a ge­netic con­di­tion. Surgery is not pos­si­ble and med­i­ca­tion has a lim­ited ef­fect but Au­gust starts a cake-mak­ing busi­ness from her home.

Su­san has frontal lobe seizures which cause her to jump on the spot. Her move­ments are de­scribed as like an “ad­dled, drug-fu­elled” dance. She has been ar­rested on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions and ac­cused of be­ing in­tox­i­cated. Af­ter Su­san un­der­goes surgery, O’Sul­li­van says she is “ter­ri­fied” to re­ceive a pic­ture of her pa­tient ab­seil­ing down a rock face. She has never looked back and is seizure-free.

Donal is a school jan­i­tor who comes to see O’Sul­li­van af­ter see­ing “seven small brightly coloured men” ap­pear from be­hind a plant pot in his work­place, then again in his din­ing room at home and later in his bed­room. Fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion leads O’Sul­li­van to be­lieve his hal­lu­ci­na­tions are a symp­tom of epilep­tic seizures. The seizures go away with med­i­ca­tion but O’Sul­li­van has no con­crete ex­pla­na­tion for why he saw the seven dwarves — she sur­mises it may be a spe­cific neu­ron stored in his longterm mem­ory.

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