Our phone chat #11 – Mike and John

Maria: Hello you two. You have been best friends for years and I know that your sense of humour gets you into all sorts of mischief! You are so good to be around and I enjoy your company.

Mike: Well you know me. Having a sense of humour certainly helps me get through some tough days as I do feel lonely at times. Some days I sit and watch my toe nails grow! I am sure it is a bit like being on home detention, but you just have to put your nose to the grindstone and get on with life.

John: How did you survive over lockdown, Mike? Fortunately, I had moved into a flat with three other men and I had company but I am reminded daily of my epilepsy. I have to take my medications three times a day just to keep me free from seizures.

Mike: Oh! I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the numbers of meds that I am on. I am certainly on a cocktail of drugs. I am taking four different types of medications for my epilepsy (20/day) and 12 tablets/day, for my other medical conditions, which is over $50/script! Because of the amount of anti-epileptic medications that I have taken over the years it has caused me to have osteoporosis because the calcium has been leached from my bones. It is no wonder that I broke my femur a couple of years ago.

John: Oh! I remember that. That slowed you down!

I remember you both telling me that school was a bit hard for you when you were growing up.

Mike: I went to a convent school and the kids there were a bit unkind and they called me “Fits”. By the time I went to secondary school, things were a bit better but I couldn’t participate in many things because of my epilepsy. Having epilepsy is a bit difficult to hide. I really wanted to lead a normal life but my seizures were never controlled and so I left school at 16 years of age.

John: I was called “Epi” at my school. I played a bit of footy but nothing fancy like the All Blacks! I left school by the age of 14 years and I went to work as a packer in Hole Proof Socks. I was there for several years, which wasn’t too bad and then I worked for the Hamilton City Council for close on ten years.

Mike: I had two jobs when I left school. I worked for Shand’s Bakery grading bread and then I worked in the Huntly brick factory grading bricks. They both shut down after I left.

John: Probably because of you Mike! I still go to work. I now work at the Cambridge Achievement Centre.

Mike: He pretends to work!

What family support do you get to help you through the days?

Mike: I have a brother and sister who live nearby. My other two siblings live elsewhere and I haven’t heard from them in ages. My brother closest to me takes me shopping every two weeks, which is kind of him. He is worried about my seizures. I seem to be having a lot more of them these days and I don’t know quite what to do about it. I have travelled to Australia twice: once for an MRI and the second time for brain surgery, neither was available in New Zealand at that time. Further brain surgery was declined by me because there was an 80% chance of me losing my eyesight and no guarantee of seizure control. I wasn’t prepared to take the risk.

John: I don’t have much contact with my brothers these days. People move on in their lives. It is just as well I have moved into a flat and I still go to work. I know that my boss keeps an eye on me. I don’t think that I have had any seizures lately.

It has been delightful meeting up with you both again. Until next time! Keep well and stay safe. We will keep in touch!