Today is World Encephalitis Day.
Sunday 22nd February 2015.
This year’s campaign is called ‘show you know’.
For those of you that have not come across the word encephalitis before, I will use this opportunity to give you a very brief synopsis. Before you even begin to guess I will tell you what encephalitis is not. Encephalitis is not water on the brain, encephalitis is not a virus, and encephalitis is not catching.
Encephalitis, however, is, inflammation of the brain.
It is when something (from a virus to bacteria to even antibodies made by your own body) causes swelling of the actual brain matter.
If you are reading my blog for the first time then you may be wondering why this holds any bearing.
The relevance is this. I myself suffered from a rare form of encephalitis nearly four years ago. For some unknown reason my body decided to start attacking my brain, using the medical jargon, I became ill with anti-NMDA-r encephalitis. In a similar way to how a bereavement or freak accident may affect one’s life, this has had a significant impact on not just my own personal existence and how I see the world today, but also to all those I hold close to me.
People say that every cloud has a silver lining, and whilst this is sometimes difficult to remember when life throws you a frightful hand, even in a situation such as mine, I believe this to be the case.
When I look back over the effects that my illness has had, I try to think about the aspects that have changed for the better. The opportunities that have arisen since getting encephalitis have been nothing less than incredible.
If you had told me five years ago that I would be running a marathon in a few months time, after already completing two half’s, I would have laughed in your face. If you had told me half a decade ago that I would be writing a weekly column for the Western Morning News, raising awareness about a rare illness, I never would have believed you. If you had told me at any point that I would have been lucky enough to meet some of the most inspirational people that have had to overcome life’s hardships and that, in turn, they have found my own story inspiring, I would have questioned your sanity.
All in all, whilst this illness may have somewhat hindered the path on which I was on, it has also enabled me to see the world in a different light. To appreciate the little things. To not take each day, each opportunity, for granted.
Talking of opportunities, becoming a regional representative for The Encephalitis Society has opened many doors. Not only that, but I have been able to meet some of the most incredible people, all of whom I am sure I never would have had the pleasure of even meeting, let alone becoming friends with, if it hadn’t been for encephalitis. It has also enabled me to help raise awareness about something that not many people know about. This year’s campaign ‘show you know’ is attempting to get people talking about encephalitis. Understanding the effects that encephalitis can have is an integral part of showing you know.
Whilst it is important for those medical professionals to know about encephalitis, I also believe it to be essential for you, yes all of you, to show you know, too.
Join the thunderclap here: Thunderclap
If you would like more information please visit The Encephalitis Society website.
Just wanted to share with you a few photographs of all the amazing opportunities that I have been fortunate to have since having encephalitis: