On February 21, 2016, my life changed forever. It started out as a normal Sunday morning. My family and I were rushing to get ready for church and make it on time. This happens every week, so I wasn’t concerned. In addition to playing “beat the clock” and getting ready for church, we were trying load up a Crockpot of chili. My youth group was hosting a luncheon for the senior adults at our church that day. Needless to say, I skipped breakfast again in spite of multiple reminders from my mom to eat.
We arrived at church on time only by the grace of God. We sang praises to our Savior, and listened to the sermon. All the while, my head was hurting a little, but I didn’t complain or tell anyone. I was just thinking, “Um yeah, I really should’ve eaten breakfast.” Finally, the service concluded, and we began setting up for “Souper Senior Sunday”.
My job was to hold the sign that displayed all of the soup choices. I held the sign while all of the senior adults went through the line. At this point, I am starting to get a little nauseated, and again I’m thinking, “I really need to eat.” My head was pounding, and I felt like I was spinning on a merry go round. I remember walking over to my mom and her friends who had just got in line to get lunch. I don’t remember much after this point. My mom stated that I put my head in her chest as if I were trying to “love on her” in public which was completely out of character for me.
While my head was on my mom’s chest, she said she kept asking me “What is wrong with you?” Mom said I made a loud noise or groan, and she thought I was crying. We would later learn that this is known as an “epileptic cry”. She said at this point I became limp, and she thought I was passing out. So she gently took me to the floor. Upon getting me to the floor, she said my body started violently jerking and shaking and she yelled, “She’s having a seizure.” She said that several people ran over to help. The seizure lasted about 5 seconds, and afterwards, a nurse that goes to our church helped her get me into a chair. The nurse asked one of the kids in our youth group to go and get some juice. They thought my blood sugar might have dropped since I didn’t eat breakfast. Before the kid returned with the juice, mom said I had another seizure. This time it lasted about 10 seconds. The nurse then had another church member to call 911. My mom, my sister, and my youth group were all scared to death. Several kids, including my sister were crying. Mom said she was too scared to cry. She “lost it” after we got in the ambulance. They took me to the closest emergency room. We had to wait forever to get into a room. When we finally got into a room, we saw a Physician’s Assistant (PA). She kept asking me if I had ever done drugs “because you just had two tonic clonic seizures back to back, and this has never happened before”. This was highly offensive to me, and I was already scared. My dad finally told her to leave me alone, and my mom said, “Please do something for her! I want an MRI or EEG or something!” The PA explained that they can do a CT, but that all of the staff that does the other tests had already left or off that day. My mom asks, “So what do I do if this happens again?” The PA replied, “Just bring her back”. Mom politely stated that she would take me to a children’s hospital God forbid it happens again. Long story short, I got IV fluids and a “normal” CT scan after six long hours at the local emergency room. Finally, we were discharged and my family went to Burger King. At last, I was able to eat, but I still wasn’t well.
The next day, my mom took me to my regular primary care doctor. We could still tell something wasn’t right with me. My body was extremely sore, and my mom and I both noticed that I was zoning out and losing time. The primary care doctor ordered an MRI and an EEG which took place over the span of that week. I ended up missing that entire week of school due to tests and still not feeling well. My primary care doctor worked diligently to obtain the results of the EEG and the MRI. On Friday, they called my mom and let her know that the MRI was normal, but the EEG was abnormal and I would need to see a neurologist as soon as possible.
The staff at my primary care doctor’s office worked hard again to help me get in with a neurologist as soon as possible. We found a great one, and on March 1, 2016, I was diagnosed with Absence Epilepsy with Generalized Tonic Clonic Seizures. The neurologist asked me about zoning out and losing time, and helped me realize that this had been going on for quite a while. She developed a treatment plan, prescribed medication, and monitored me for the past eight months. My neurologist also assisted my mom in working with my school to establish a 504 plan for my safety and educational accommodations.
Through much prayer, my seizures have been controlled with medication. We did notice some absence activity in the first couple of months after starting Keppra, but my neurologist was able to tweak my dosage, and I haven’t had any activity since May, 2016. As stated earlier, my life changed, when I started having seizures. I still have “not so good” days with headaches, dizziness, etc., but I have learned to listen to my body. I eat regularly now, and I rest when I need to do so. I also take my medication regularly. I will admit that it does make me anxious knowing I could have a seizure at any time or place. However, I know that I have a Savior who has promised to never leave or forsake me. He has also blessed me with educated doctors who treat my epilepsy, supportive family and friends who cover me with prayers, and a desire to further His kingdom by sharing my story and promoting epilepsy awareness.
In the future, I would like to continue to advocate for epilepsy by hosting bigger events and starting a support group in Atlanta for children and teenagers like myself. I highly encourage you to get involved in some way as well. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).