Sunday, November 1, 2009


Wheel Power

Celebrating my son's 21st Birthday

EPILEPSY is a condition of the brain which causes a person to become unconscious. This happens for short periods of time where he or she will move about in an uncontrolled, and sometimes violent, way. Such movements are called “seizures”. They are caused when there is a sudden and involuntary surge of electrical activity in the brain. No one knows why this happens and so there is currently no cure for epilepsy. The person experiencing a seizure goes through a motion that alters the way he or she thinks, acts or feels.

Now, anyone reading these few paragraphs may be terrified of the disease, especially if it were to affect them or their loved ones. Not Serene Low, however, who lives in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. The 49-year-old wife and mum of a 21-year-old son is convinced that having epilepsy is neither a death nor life sentence.

“Life is still beautiful with epilepsy,” she told Wheel Power last week. Low is in the best position to know this as she has epilepsy herself, a condition she has lived with for nearly 40 years. In that time, Low has experienced more than 100 attacks.

“The good news is, today, there are many types of anti-epileptic drugs available,” she said.

“With proper diagnosis and the right medication, seizures can be fairly well, if not, very well controlled,” added the prominent epileptic awareness activist whose blog won a top health blogger award in February this year. Low pointed out that when taken regularly and as prescribed, anti-epileptic drugs can prevent seizures in a majority of people.

It has been estimated that at least 50% of all patients with epilepsy gain complete control of their seizures for substantial periods of time. Another 20% enjoy a significant reduction in the number of epileptic attacks.

“I have lived with epilepsy for most of my life and I’m fortunate to say my seizures are very well controlled. I would also like to point out that without epilepsy, I would not be the epilepsy activist that I am today. My experience with the disease has helped me stay connected and in touch with other leading epilepsy activists, caregivers and people with epilepsy (PwE) not only in the country but around the world as well.”

Low stressed that being an epileptic does not make her feel different from anyone else. In fact, her epilepsy blog has been a huge plus factor for her. "It has opened a whole new dimension in my life,” she explained. “I have loyal followers and readers, many of whom are PwE who leave inspiring and motivating comments for me. In fact, if not for epilepsy, I would still be the shy and quiet person that I used to be.”

Low had her first seizure as a child after a high fever. Then she stopped having them for about 10 years until they recurred when she was 18. Her last seizure occurred in March.

“Epileptic seizures can be extremely dangerous for PwE, especially when they happen in dangerous places,” explained Low. “Once it happened when I was swimming in Port Dickson where I almost drowned. Another time, I was at a traffic light waiting to cross a busy street and the seizure caused me to fall down on the five-foot way where I broke the whole upper front row of my teeth and needed extensive dental surgery.”

Despite those difficult times, Low said that life has to go on for everybody and especially for PwE. “In my case, I have learned to look beyond epilepsy. The way I see it, the horizon beyond epilepsy is colourful, beautiful and captivating like the artworks of Vincent Van Gogh and his divine paintings. His paintings have inspired me in my art which is one of my greatest interests.”

Low said that although her art may never find a place in art galleries, painting has become a therapeutic pastime for her. Three weeks ago, she submitted 13 paintings to Jim Chambliss, who calls himself “a reformed attorney” after successfully rebounding from traumatic brain injury in 1998. He is currently doing research on the influence of human conditions such as epilepsy and migraine in art at the University of Melbourne and St Vincent’s Hospital in Australia.

Low was delighted that her works were picked as part of a study by Chambliss, entitled Epilepsy and Creativity. Chambliss, incidentally, is also a PwE.




  1. Outstanding post ! It is a pleasure for me to read your blog from time to time. I am so delighted to know that your art works were picked as part of a study by Chambliss. How cool is that ! Congratulations. I am simply in AWE of you.

  2. Hi Ted,

    Thank you so so much again for your constant support. I am very motivated by you and your fundraising event in aid of epilepsy foundation. Ya, I was jumping with great joy when I found out that I made it at the nick of time to be part of Chambliss's study. I am one out of 3 Asians who live outside Australia who made it into the study which had 100 over participants from all around the world. I feel so proud to be the only epileptic and migraine artist representing my country, Malaysia.

    I am always uplifted by you and your blog too Ted. I thank God for bringing you into my life. God bless you and your family always.


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