Living with Epilepsy

Where do I begin?

Back on January 15, 1993 while working at Matrix Marketing, Inc., I had come back from a meeting to my desk and the next thing I remember is waking up on the floor with people around me including the paramedics asking if I remembered my name, which I eventually did.

This was my very first Gran mal seizure, which led to eventually being diagnosed with Epilepsy that year. Fortunately, at the time I was dating my son’s father who was a tremendous help in taking care of me while going through such a drastic change in my life, especially when it came to daily living, chores, driving and more.

The impact of having a gran mal seizure drains the life out of you. Your muscles become rigid like a surfboard, there is short-term memory loss, bruises, cuts, bitten tongue, and tremors afterwards and a major headache on top of all of this, you just want to sleep and you do as this allows the body to recover. Recovery usually can take a day to several days, just depend on the person. My recovery process has changed over the years, now for the most part it may be 2 to 3 days and I go back to my daily duties including driving to and from work. The dangerous part is the driving as I don’t report it to my doctor for if I did, I would be restricted from driving and now that I am divorced and the only source of income in my home, well the bills have to be paid and yes I know the risk I am taking.

Employment is difficult and challenging as when seizures occur, for the most part I am unable to drive as I am in no condition to drive, and have to consider the safety of others and myself, as it is a risk and responsibility. However, with this being said, most companies especially the larger ones will not hire someone like me as their loophole falls into “dependability” even when they say they do not discriminate against people with disabilities.

Fortunately, for me I work for a small business that understands my illness and have been with them since 2011. I am very thankful they have not let me go after the seizures over the years, however I always manage to stay on top of things and get ahead as much as possible and since it is seasonal, the wintertime is much slower until business picks up in the spring.

Financially when I miss a day, I lose money and this only stresses me out more, which is one of my triggers. Other triggers are illnesses such as a simple cold, or stomach virus can bring on an episode. Migraines for whatever reason always seem to co-exist with Epilepsy. Low blood sugar, OTC medications, antibiotics, decongestants are other triggers as it cross reacts with the seizure medication.

Does this sound like fun yet?

With my current medication, I do suffer side effects on a regular basis, especially as I have been on this medication for over 20 years. Side effects are drowsiness, sleepiness, blurred vision, low blood sugar levels affected, unexplained bruises, and a low immune system threshold, which means fighting off a simple cold, or virus is more difficult and takes longer to get over than someone who has a better immune system.

Living with a chronic illness presents challenges as some days you feel great and on top of the world being able to do anything and the next day it is the total opposite. There really is no way to tell all the time when a seizure may occur. I can have tremors (spikes), speech difficulty and nothing happens, other times a full gran mal seizure will occur.

I make sure to eat healthy and exercise, watch my triggers, trying to keep stress down which is a struggle in of itself. I thank God every day for keeping others safe including myself when I drive.

As I am very independent, it is hard for me to swallow the “pill” asking for help. I abhor that more than anything does as I have learned all my life to take care of myself. Then one day a dear friend said to me: “Sometimes you just have to ask for help or accept help when someone offers it to you”. That friend was right, does it change how I feel? No, it does not.

The best blessing of all is when my son is home from college on breaks, then he drives me to and from and this helps when I need to rest and he gets to use the car!

Other than that life will always be a struggle and there will be good and bad days, I just want all good days for once and to be normal. People who are healthy cannot even imagine what life is as if for a person living with a chronic illness that controls your daily life and affects every part of your day when a flare-up happens. The ones who do understand are the ones who will be your support system and understanding as they know what it is like to live with an illness and what one suffers depending on the condition or disease, sometimes multiple diseases and conditions.

Honey it is simple as this…..

I am a simple, sweet, mid-western, gifted, multi-tasking, barefoot, country, Christian girl with high morals and ethics, with old fashioned value, a traditionalist, open to change, single again (divorce), working, writing, balancing life, single parenting while managing Epilepsy all at the same time with being a Starbucks addict…living in Ohio, what more could a girl want? And…Mommy to one, turning the page, breaking free and through life that is not measured by the number of breaths I take but by the moments that take my breath away while being shamelessly addicted love, flirty dresses, laughter, romance, shopping, books, cats, coffee, warm fires, candlelight dinners, movies, music, Christmas, Hallmark Channel…oh and my son!

Anne Margaret T.