Twenty years ago, soon after publishing my first novel, I had a full-blown, grand-mal seizure. The doctor in the emergency room, equipped with the bedside manner of an SS officer, speculated with clinical coldness that an MRI would probably reveal a tumor in my brain, the most common cause of seizures for people in my age group.
It turned out I didn’t have a tumor. The wise and kindly neurologist who took my case told me my seizure was “idiopathic,” which she explained this way: “We idiots can’t find the cause.” After a hiatus of nearly a decade, the seizures returned. The last occurred in the local train station. I fell and split my head, which required several stitches to close. Now, thankfully, medication has the seizures under control.
By way of consolation, a writer friend cheerfully pointed out that as well as sharing the Christian faith and a literary career with Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I now shared epilepsy. But, alas, if epilepsy was in any way related to Dostoyevsky’s prowess and success as a novelist, I haven’t been so blessed.