Sunday, 18 September 2016

'The Summer sun is fading....... the year grows old.' From Forever Autumn, War of the Worlds by Jeff Wayne.

As I progress my little challenge and enter into the final stretch and the twilight of the 2016 I finally picked up 'Life After Encephalitis: A Narrative Approach' by Dr Ava Easton. I really didnt know what to expect with this, after all I have witnessed and experienced at first hand the devastating effects of the illness on someone, my belated wife Celia and the acquired brain injury that follows along with the damage it leaves in its wake to family members.

There are some really good descriptions of the illness ( being the main source), but here was a narrative of the illness that all could understand.  Be they medical professionals or the average person in the street.  The book explains the illness, how it works in creating havoc in the brain and then after the acute phase leaves a injury that we can not see directly, but see the effects of it all to clear for all to witness.

The book also helps to explain, why there seems to be this almost insistence to narrate the condition by those who have suffered from it.  I have done so - on a blog for when I did London Marathon, and numerous times  to various people.  Ava explains that due to the condition not being known and the aftermath of it, there is this need to explain it.  What has happened to the suffer in the acute phase, how the resulting brain injury leaves them changed and the how around them have suffered due to those changes,

Both of those areas are worthy of the book on its own (or more research?), but the real emotion, the real power of the book is the narratives themselves from the families and those who have suffered backed up by the medical people in the know.  Each of the narratives show how the illness seems to start off as small changes, a cold and only as time goes on do matters really come to the head.  Each of the suffers who survived, with the help of family members, piece together the pieces of the illness, of the person they were and the person they are now.  How the brain injuries radically changes them, the personality within them.  All these backed up by those who love them and support them through the illness.  Of course, as I know, the illness does situations were the suffer s post illness brain injuries are such that it comes too much for them and they are sadly taken from us.

The base condition maybe the same: encephalitis, but the cause in nearly all of them was different, how the illness developed was different and thus the resulting brain injury was different thus each condition described was unique.  There were elements in them that I could see with Celia's case, but once again hers was a unique case and to me, thats the scary part.

I read these narratives one at a time, as thats all I could do before the emotion of them took over.  They are the heart and sole of the book, the power of love and strength of the families to come through extremely trying circumstances.  I think Ava has allowed each narrative to speak on its own volume, and credit to her for that.

If people want to know about encephalitis, then they should ready this, it is as simple as that.

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