Epilepsy is still one of those disorders shrouded in mystery. Often an injury or a fever can bring it on abruptly. It can start early in life and then disappear, or it can onset later to cleave to life and make it more difficult and hard to live life to the fullest.
In A Great Place for a Seizure by Terry Tracy we follow the life of Mischa Dunn. Beginning her seizures after her 14th birthday, she has had to live with them for as long as she can remember. Words such as aura, grand mal, petit mall and others mean more to those who have experienced them, and their caretakers and friends then to most anyone else. Those uninitiated to epilepsy or seizures may have heard the words vaguely and might even have a good understanding and yet unless you have been there they are only words.
Building a life around the possibility of seizure is difficult and overbearing for some, yet Terry Tracy has done a great job of creating a character who lives her life with dignity and grace, regardless of her disability. We follow Mischa’s life through school, college, work, marriage and patenthood, and we learn the lessons of the flaws that afflict others, and I would have to say we take a lesson from the characterization of this work. Not everyone with epilepsy is able to relegate it the way that Mischa does, and yet the same can be said of most people on life in particular. It is not everyone that can live a life of grace and caring, with or without illness, and it is quite instructive to get a depth of information about such a secretive disability, though the life and courage of such a brave character.
I really enjoyed this story; it is full of life and joy, but ribboned with sadness and pain, and a shadow of grief and longing.
Terry Tracy has drawn on something she knows quite well, and built a story to help bring – not just the illness itself to life – but to put it in perspective of living life as well. I have some experience with this myself as one of my younger sisters was diagnosed quite young, but she was not to be one of the lucky ones. She died quite young at 23. I believe that Terry Tracy has done a terrific job of bringing to light some of the fears and questions evinced by those that do not understand. It is uncomfortable to be present for a seizure, and it is easy to panic and makes things worse. Even now, we are learning more about this stressful and debilitating problem.
By invoking epilepsy and bringing it to light in such a fashion, Tracy takes away some of the mystery and makes it more of just another problem experienced in life, instead of a strange and fearful illness.
This would be a wonderful book for a book club or reading group. The characterization is excellent and the in-depth study of epilepsy is full of knowledge and information. The story itself is well told, with fact and fiction. The ending threw me off a bit. I was surprised and went back to see if I was missing something, but it may have just been a form of letting us know that while epilepsy is a darkness, there are other more deadly and debilitating diseases that can damage a family far more and with even worse consequences.