MY JOURNEY WITH EPILEPSY

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By Laura Bialecki

Growing up there was never any indication that there was anything wrong. I was relativity healthy as a young child and as a teenager.  In high school I played sports, got good grades and had a lot of great friends. I felt like I had the perfect life. Then I went to college and everything changed….

College was such a different world. My parents were pretty strict growing up with strict curfews and rules. So when I got to college I rebelled and started partying and skipping class. It caused me to get very little sleep and started feeling very stressed.  After about three months of this one day in class as I was handing in a test to my teacher I had my first Grand-mal seizure.

TESTS AND MORE TESTS

I remember waking up in the hospital with my mom and teacher standing over me. The doctors told us that I had a seizure. I had no idea what that meant or why it happened. The doctors did a whole bunch of tests. Among the many tests was a drug test because they assumed that I was on drugs because of my age and that I never had any problems with seizures before. I did not do drugs so the tests came out clean.

 

PROBABLY EPILEPSY

After all the testing the ER doctor told me that I probably had Epilepsy and that I needed to see a neurologist.  They did not really give my mom and I any information. We left there very confused and upset.

The next day I went and had an EEG (a head scan). On the following day we went to the Neurologist for the results and he officially diagnosed me with Epilepsy.

The doctor told my mom and I that I probably had it my whole life, but was triggered by the lack of sleep, stress, and the partying that I was doing.

After I got the diagnosis, there was a lot of trial and error to find the right doctor and the right medicine. If my medicine was not strong enough or I did not take it I would experience a seizure again. The doctor told me that I should not drink alcohol anymore because it could interact with the medication and/or cause more seizures.

 

DOING WHAT ANY NORMAL REBEL DOES

Being just 19 years old and finding out that I had a brain disorder was really hard on me. I became depressed and very anxious all the time. I started to rebel against the doctor orders.

After experiencing a seizure from not taking care of myself, I lost my driver’s license for 3 months. Every state regulates driver’s license eligibility of persons with certain medical conditions. The most common requirement for people with epilepsy is that they be seizure free for a specific period of time and submit a physician’s evaluation of their ability to drive safely.

Another common requirement is the periodic submission of medical reports, in some states for a specified period of time and in others for as long as the person remains licensed. I did not feel normal anymore and felt like my perfect world was crashing down. It took had a few more seizures until they got my medication under control.

 

 

I decided to end my college experience and got a job as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Through it all my family, friends, and boyfriend were a great support system. Things started to get better and my seizures were finally getting under control. I was happy and was doing pretty well again.

Unfortunately, I still struggled with anxiety so they implemented medication to help curb it. The first medicine they had me try induced a seizure and I was back to not driving again. Every time I had a seizure, my license would be suspended and I would start to feel depressed again. I am a very social person and loved going places and I hated feeling like I was cooped up in the house or having to rely on other people to take me places.

After that we tried another medicine and that one seemed to work well. Finally the three months of non-driving was up and I was able to feel normal again. My longtime boyfriend and I got a couple of dogs, bought a house and got married. Things were looking up.

 

 

MORE SEIZURES

I got hurt at work and had to take a muscle relaxer and that medicine gave me two seizures in 6 hours.  One of the last seizures I had in the shower home alone and my husband found me on the bathroom floor.  My family was worried because of all this and decided to do some research.

My sister heard of a program called Paws for Independence. It is a program that trains dogs to be service dogs for all kinds of disorders. After researching the program it seemed it would be a great fit for me and my dog Chevy so we got enrolled and we are so glad we did.

Having my dog with me at all times has really helped with my anxiety. Chevy even gets to go to work with me at the nursing home. My work is very supportive of me having my dog there, and all the residents love to see him every day. My co-workers and the residents even threw Chevy a birthday party this year.

 

 

 

AND NOW…WE YOGA

About 2 years ago I really started to get healthy and do yoga. Yoga has helped me so much, it calms my anxiety and makes me feel like a better person. It brought me out of my funk and gave me a new look on life. Hiking, biking, kayaking, and spending time with my family and friends has been really important to me.

 

I am doing really well now and feel healthy and happy. I am so grateful to my family and friends that have helped me through all my challenges and lessons.

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