A Tale of Carin’ Karen

About a year ago, I was catching up with an old friend who happened to be in town.

“Old friend” doesn’t actually capture the natural and solid connection that persists between me and most of the kids I grew up with. We lived in a tiny community, so we didn’t just go to school with our neighbours. We were on the same soccer teams, we were in the same choirs and brownie troops and 4H clubs. Their parents were our teachers and our librarians and our coaches. We babysat and we tutored each other.

In the case of Karen, she was my devoted piano student (which means her family is responsible, in part, for funding the university degree I have buried in a file somewhere).

You’d think, living and working so closely together, we’d all have known each other’s histories up and down. And often we did. But throughout those years, Karen was experiencing health challenges I never knew about.

One thing I never forgot about Karen: She was strong. She had to be, as the youngest of four loud siblings. She told, not asked, her mother to hire me at the piano. She personally handed over my weekly fee. She worked harder at this instrument than any other student I ever taught. When she passed her exam with honours, I couldn’t have been prouder.

So last year, when Karen asked me to take a look at a manuscript she’d written, I was happy to help. I was also surprised: It turned out to be a detailed and personal story of her decades-long struggle with epilepsy and seizures, brain surgery and depression.

She calls it the “roller coaster ride” of her life.

Determined as ever, Karen has now turned her experience into a printed book, with two selfless purposes: to inspire others living with epilepsy, and to raise money for awareness and research.

And while she works at promoting and selling her new book – she has already raised over two thousand smackeroos for Epilepsy Ottawa-Carleton because, remember, she’s strong – she continues to point to those who’ve supported her. Here’s a brief rundown: My pal Heather contributed her editing talents for an extremely modest fee. Last weekend, my sister Sylvie hosted a book signing at the local general store. A mess of family and friends have cheered Karen on for years.

If you needed any more proof of how gracious Karen can be, she takes four pages of her new book just to express her gratitude to these people. (Who doesn’t like a thank you?)

Want a copy of My Life Time Roller Coaster Ride with Epilepsy? contact author Karen Fisher at karen.fisher@xplornet.com.

Tell her hi from me.

Karen and Sylvie stand beside book poster.

Pretty in purple: Karen and my sis Sylvie share a moment at the book signing.

8 responses to “A Tale of Carin’ Karen

  1. Wow–what a great story. My husband Jim’s cousin Vincent has quietly, and with dignity, lived his life with epilepsy. I’m sure there is a lot that he would relate to in this book. I will definitely be passing this on to him. Vince teaches art, and he is a musician, often performing with his wife Heather, a fine musician in her own right. Vince is also an avid cyclist as that has been his mode of transportation for years. He once told me, “you know I was green–riding everywhere–before it was trendy. It was because they wouldn’t give me a driver’s licence. It used to bug me, but now, it’s just cool.” I’m sure your friend Karen has lots of experiences like that, and has learned to live her life in really cool ways too.

  2. Love hearing about people who are ahead of their time, due to their disability. Happens more often than one might think! Thanks for sharing the story of Vince, who sounds cool not just because he rides a bike, but because he’s an artist and musician, too.

  3. Karen Fisher

    Thank you Lisa for sharing my story, I know we could tell alot about our childhood but you truly helped me realize that reaching out to others is truly what life is all about! I have been blessed to have you, Heather and Sylvia help me meet one more step of my life! It is with hope that my book and events will help others realize we truly can do anything we set our minds too! So when is my next piano lesson… need to refresh a little on that one! I still love playing it!

  4. Karen, if you can write a book you can become a piano virtuoso… anything’s possible! I wholeheartedly agree with you, that connections give meaning to life. Here’s to not being a hermit. Congratulations again!

  5. Congradulations Karen. Hope things keep going well.
    Your Friend

  6. Karen Fisher

    Thanks Lisa and Greg!

  7. what a good and very expriencing story..keep it up=)

  8. Glad things are going well Karen. Tuesday was not good for me. I was seizure free in April, but for the first time in 5 years, I had numerous seizures on the same day. Three complex partials. I added a drawing of 2 sunflowers to the cover of the poem book I wrote, and am continuing to find a way to get it published, and continue with my life’s story as well. It’s already 92 pages, and it is only up to 1989, when I returned home from the surgery in Montreal. That’s 23 years ago. Hope things continue going well Karen.

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