It is both shocking and unsurprising that in the thirty-three years since my first epilepsy diagnosis, not one neurologist has ever suggested environmental factors a possible cause, in spite of the fact that our environment is filled with neuro-disruptors designed to devastate the central nervous systems of insects. There are huge vested interests behind the pretense that profit driven science is safe, and that the massive amounts of toxic substances produced by that science have no significant negative impact on people or ecosystems. At every step, attempts to trace the connections between carcinogens and cancer are hampered, but at least people are aware carcinogens exist. No-one talks about epileptogens.
When I was a child the world was full of unusual things, astonishing realities. Just the thought that we were part of a galaxy which was one of millions, a speck of life in a vast expanse of space, made me shiver and sometimes kept me up at night. As a child you are both shocked by reality and take for granted that it's strange. That caterpillars wind themselves up in silk thread, dissolve their own bodies and remake themselves into butterflies. That blood races around inside our bodies. That people organize wars. Or insert parts of their bodies into other people's bodies and this results in new people. My brother and I thought that as we moved through the world, we left energy trails behind us and that at the end of life, it would be like letting go of one end of a stretched rubber band---we'd go flying backwards along the path we'd traveled, only a lot faster--which is why we took care not to tangle our trails around lampposts our other people. We didn't want to get bruised.
This is the beginning of a major project I'm undertaking, to tell the story of my body, and particularly of my chronic illnesses, in the context of the poisoning of our planet for profit.
I was born on a farm in western Puerto Rico in 1954. My parent, blacklisted communists from New York, were unable to find work in the political climate of the 1950s, and bought an abandoned coffee farm, where they started growing vegetables and raising hens. This way, they guaranteed their food supply in spite of McCarthyism. During my mother's pregnancy with me and the first two years of my life, I was exposed to large quantities of the pesticides DDT, dieldrin and lindane, as well as smaller doses of parathion. As it turns out, I also have a genetic variation in my liver enzymes that makes my body very inefficient at breaking down and getting rid of a large range of toxicants, so that what I get exposed to hang around for a long time.