INTERVIEW with KRISTEN SEABORG, MD, author of THE SACRED DISEASE: MY LIFE WITH EPILEPSY
Dr. Kristin Seaborg has written a memoir about her personal experiences with epilepsy and the way it has shaped her as a pediatrician and mother. We're fortunate to have her with us today at the BookPound for this interview. Thanks for taking the time, Dr. Seaborg.
Have you always enjoyed reading and writing? What are some of your earliest writing experiences?
Yes, I have definitely always enjoyed books and words. As a young child, I was famous for writing rhyming greeting cards for friends and family on their birthdays, holidays, and various occasions. Probably my most memorable early writing experience was in second grade when I wrote a story about Thanksgiving dinner that won my school writing contest. As a reward, I got to go to all of the third grade classrooms to read my story while the older kids listened. Each of the third grade teachers gave me a small piece of candy or reward after I read the story. I still can taste the giant green gumdrop that Ms. Ptaski gave me over thirty years ago.
How has writing The Sacred Disease influenced your perceptions of your personal challenges with epilepsy?
Through writing the book and talking to readers afterwards, I have learned to accept life with epilepsy instead of trying to run from it. My previous method of coping with chronic illness was to try and pretend it wasn’t there. Writing my memoir provided an outlet for release and processing my fears and frustration in a way I hadn’t realized before.
Has your writing helped you to connect with other people suffering from epilepsy? If so, in what ways?
Yes, as a result of my book and my blog, www.oneintwentysix.com, I have spoken with many patients and family members of people with epilepsy. Since many of us share a common journey and common hopes and dreams for the future, I’ve been fortunate to connect with others with epilepsy in a way that I haven’t before. Although epilepsy is incredibly common, open discussion about seizures and side effects is surprisingly rare. It has been very reassuring and helpful to talk with others who have walked the same path.
Do you think that having epilepsy has influenced the way you practice medicine?
Absolutely. My experiences in the hospital, clinics, and even pharmacy as a patient have taught me what things make the patient experience more bearable. Doctors who took the extra time to share empathy or compassion were critical to help me heal after a major brain surgery and instrumental to helping me cope with chronic uncertainty. Because of my experiences as a patient, I make a point to try my best to convey compassion to every patient, to seek to understand their individual challenges and fears, and to acknowledge the psychological aspects of health that can either promote recovery or exacerbate illness.
Are you planning on writing more in the future?
Yes, I’d definitely like to write more in the future. As a primary care pediatrician, I have seen a variety of changes in the way we parent our kids today and how sometimes our quest to raise the “perfect child” supersedes our best judgement or common sense. I’d like to write a book about common-sense parenting and how we can raise “well-balanced” children.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell BookPound readers?
Although The Sacred Disease is a memoir about my life with epilepsy, the lessons I’ve learned that are shared throughout the book can apply to people with many different experiences. Any parent or patient dealing with chronic illness or uncertainty is likely to relate to my book. Any woman who has faced challenges in her life will understand the path to acceptance that I have taken. And any health care professional may enjoy reading about the qualities that made many of my health care providers exceptions.