On June 8, 1972, as I came into the world, I gave my parents the shock of a lifetime by seizing the moment. I went into fetal distress and the doctors took their good old time in taking me by C-section. For four days, I was in the hospital with all these crazy tubes and wires connected to keep me going and all the while I continued to have non-stop convulsions. Yet, it was my stuborness and the grace of God that allowed me to survive.
Throughout the first ten years of my life I was relatively healthy, but the year I turned 10 I contracted viral meningitis. A few months later I was sledding in the park and had a seizure at the bottom off the hill. The seizure was scary. The world was spinning, I was throwing up and screaming scared. After many tests, I was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Over time, I continued with seizures and a search for a medication that would control them. Dilantin gave me a rash. Phenobarbital made me very, very irritable. The years of trial and error of medications was very frustrating, but a stubborn part of me never allowed this demon to knock me down totally. My internal strength and a supportive family allowed me to get through school until I finally graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1991!! A lifetime milestone that will never be forgotten!!!
I went on to take a few part time jobs until I landed a job at my church in 1995. During the seven years I worked there, up to and including 2001, I lived a life of constant Grand Mal seizures. The medication mixes never helped, until I was put on Trileptal, along with two other anti-convulsive medications. Only then was I able to live with less severe seizures.
Once the seizures were less severe, I had the opportunity to go onto college. I entered Philadelphia Community College. I only lasted a week. My sensitive nervous system could not handle the stress of higher education. At the same time I was taking a medication for seizures that had a side effect that put me emotionally out of control and I landed in the psych unit! This experience forced me to start a journey of individual therapy and antidepressants.
I have to say I was not happy making the decision to get therapy. I walked out of the therapist office a couple times. It is very hard to admit I need help from another person!! I used to say to Marianne (my therapist): “I am paying you to listen to what I can tell a friend. “ As years went by, my weekly meeting with Marianne progressed to help deal with living with epilepsy, especially getting out all the crap to the point of crying a few times.
Now here I am, forty years later, fully accepting uncontrolled epilepsy as part of my life. What a peaceful feeling!! This could not have happened without Marianne’s help. The bonus of my past experience of thirty years: I am now an advocate and public speaker for epilepsy!! Only God knows what is next as my life’s story continues to unfold!!