The Sacred Disease

The Sacred Disease

My Life with Epilepsy

Non-Fiction - Memoir
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 11/05/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Book Review

Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite

The Sacred Disease: My Life with Epilepsy by Kristin Seaborg MD is an autobiographical account of the author’s life with diagnosed epilepsy. Kristin’s first seizure occurred when she was sixteen months old, but her epilepsy did not establish itself until she was in her teens. The book recounts her experiences with symptoms, diagnostic tests, medications, and brain surgery. It is also an inspiring account of her determination to succeed in her training and work as a pediatric doctor with her particular interest in neurology. There are sections that explain the historical understanding of epilepsy including the misunderstandings, fear, prejudice and inhumane treatments patients experienced in past times. The author also describes her battle with her own feelings of shame, other people’s ignorance, and how she eventually accepted, overcame and learned to deal with these issues. As an account of a personal journey, it includes the effects epilepsy had on her friendships, marriage, and managing her children, and how her own experiences gave her insights into the feelings and needs of her patients.

The Sacred Disease: My Life with Epilepsy is a brave and informative book that makes an empathetic and insightful memoir – an inspiration for others who have the diagnosis themselves. It is also a real eye-opener for anyone not familiar with the condition and the effects it can have. Kristin Seaborg’s determination to find the best way to control her epilepsy so that she can lead the life she passionately wants to lead shines through in this very well-written book. I liked the factual pieces covering the history of epilepsy diagnosis and treatment in some of the chapters – these really do explain the origins of the ignorance and discrimination that can, unfortunately, still exist to some extent today.

The author’s honest and brave account of her own feelings, and reasons for her need to keep her epilepsy a secret from the majority, will resound with readers in the same situation. But this is a book that could pave the way to more enlightenment and understanding on the part of others – and that offers encouragement to fellow sufferers. At the end of the book the author describes how she discovered CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy). I loved the quotes in the book as well as Seaborg’s own words of wisdom. No longer “ashamed,” she resolves to treasure the simplest things in life: “When forced to live with vulnerability and uncertainty I could learn to treasure and give thanks for the simplest things. I resolved to live a purposeful life shaped by these truths.” An insightful and inspiring read.

Mamta Madhavan

The Sacred Disease: My Life with Epilepsy by Kristin Seaborg MD is a heart-wrenching memoir in which the author shares her life with readers; a life of being epileptic. In the book, the author speaks about the stigma attached to epilepsy, how others view epileptic patients, and also about a healing that comes with love and care more than medicines. The author's personal story, her moments of experiencing epilepsy while driving, loneliness, being isolated, the horrible side effects of the medicines, her perseverance, graduating from medical school, marrying, and starting a family give readers valuable information about the author's life and help them connect with the book.

This book is not only for epileptic patients but for all those who are fighting a battle in their lives. The author's acceptance of being epileptic has taught her grace, perseverance, gratitude, strength and hope, and being a patient herself has taught her to care for each aspect of all the patients who came to her. The author's words are kind and they show her two sides; Kristin the patient and Kristin the doctor. The narration is simple and fluid and readers will tend to look at people with other conditions like depression, ADHD, anorexia and many others with a different perspective. The author's medical history, events and circumstances related to epilepsy, and all her interactions with health care providers give readers a lot of useful information about epilepsy and epileptic patients. It's a well written memoir that will help readers learn more about epilepsy.

Gisela Dixon

The Sacred Disease: My Life with Epilepsy by Kristin Seaborg MD is the autobiography and memoir of a doctor who has suffered from epilepsy and seizures for almost all of her life. The Sacred Disease: My Life with Epilepsy follows a more or less chronological telling of life events where Kristin describes her first seizure when she was just a baby. Since then, they have occurred more or less frequently, in various degrees, in spite of her being on medication from the beginning. In this honest memoir, Kristin Seaborg describes her experiences growing up with this disability, the challenges she faced in school and life because of it, and her subsequent journey as a mother, and the unique challenges that accompany it because of epilepsy. The book also provides an idea about the medical treatments currently in use and available to manage epilepsy as Kristen describes her medical appointments and treatment, and medicine details.

The Sacred Disease: My Life with Epilepsy by Kristin Seaborg MD is a refreshingly honest memoir delivered in a stick-to-the-facts, down to earth style. I personally learnt a lot more about what it is like living with this condition. Pregnancy and having kids add to the challenge. I was also fascinated to read about epilepsy from a historical perspective and about how people were stigmatized because of it just like they were and still are, to an extent, stigmatized for having a mental illness. Overall, this is a good book that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the subject or just likes reading good autobiographies and memoirs.