How Epilepsy Changed My Life Gilbert Lutes Essay ENGL 121 10/15/12 Writing Assignment When I was just seven-years old, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I’d been having small and frequent seizures my entire life without ever knowing of it until one day when I was shelling walnuts in front of the fireplace. Everything I ever knew was being stripped away from me. I no longer had control over any of the muscles in my body, my ability to speak, my actions, nor my sight.
All I could do was relax and wait for my brain to catch up and regain control over my body. My life has been changed by epilepsy, but I will never let it control my life. By definition, “Epilepsy occurs when nerve cells in the brain send electrical messages at a rate of up to four times higher than normal which causes a sort of electrical storm in the brain, known as a seizure or convulsion,” (http://www. patienthealthinternational. com/epilepsy/). After realizing that I was “abnormal,” my parents sent me to see a bunch of specialist.
I attended many clinics across the US, trying to find the most reliable and safest way to treat my “issues” or deficiencies. My pediatrician told me that it was “cryptogenic – this means the doctor thinks there is probably a cause, but cannot pinpoint it,” (http://www. medicalnewstoday. com/articles/8947. php). The Amen clinic in Fairfield, California was our first stop. Dr Amen pretty much doped me up on drugs and forgot about me. Each specialist ran his or her own set of tests on me.
Some doctors wanted to do EEGs, MRIs, CAT scans, and other neurological studies and tests while others had all new approaches like vitamin supplements, green diets, physical training plans, some even had ideas about reprograming me like a computer (aka Brainwashing me). I felt like a lab rat everyone could prick poke and scan for new exciting links between epilepsy and brain issues. After the research was done, I was sent to a Dr. Debbie Marks who, at that time, had no degree related to epilepsy, but had done a great deal of research, which led her to later become a pecialist. At the time, we were very skeptical of her ability’s as she was not certified. After attending monthly meetings with Dr. Marks, we finally got the test results from these other clinics that confirmed that what I had been experiencing were seizures, and from that point on, I was treated for epilepsy. Next came the study of an important natural inhibitory neurotransmitter: Gamaa-amino butyric acid (GABA for short), which led to a search for drugs which might suppress my epilepsy through enhancing the activity of GABA.
Doctors prescribed Depakote, and Rediline for me to take three times a day for as long as the symptoms continued. At this point in my life, my family and I understood that I would live with this for rest of my life. Certain activity’s I had once participated in with ease, now caused worry. I was now forced to give up mountain biking, roller blading, skateboarding, horseback riding, and swimming because at any given point in time I was subject to a complete shutdown of my brain which could cause numerous injury’s to myself and others. Fortunately I was not old enough, and hadn’t learned to drive yet, so that wasn’t a temptation.
I lived with these restrictions for six years, never being able to head out on my own and just take a bike ride, never being able to be pulled behind a boat on a tube or skis, and trust me, it’s hard to grow up in California without being about to enjoy watersports. I started meeting with an occupational therapist twice a month, and it was the best decision I ever made. I learned so many ways of coping with epilepsy, and discovered a ton of things I could do that would help stimulate my brain to function at a much faster rate, causing more understanding, and less static brain waves.
I learned several exercises I could perform to awake my brain, and lessen the chance of seizures. I continued this for eight years. Every year discovering something new that helped me work through the many troubles tossed at me through epilepsy. When I turned thirteen, my annual EEG(electroencephalogram)ended with good results. They were, in fact, great results because I had outgrown my epilepsy. I was free from all restrictions. But then, my blood test showed that from the excessive use of Depakote, I was experiencing liver failure.
Now, on one hand, I am basically free from the hospital and all its meds, but, on the other hand, I am now starting a relapse and needed meds for the assistance of my liver. I was then put on a sugar diet that was to increase the fatty tissue that would assist in the break down on cells that were destroying my liver, so I gained weight, and I gained weight fast. I was 14 when I realized that I was fat. I felt like all that I was doing would just build me into a fat blob that no one would want to look at or hangout with, so, I complained to my doctor.
He suggested that it was just a part of the growing process and I was just to go about my day and enjoy the fact that I was gaining weight. This I did not like. I continued to complain about the fact that I was fat until I finally went on a weight loss plan. At age 14, 5’1” and a ? , at 157 pounds, I enrolled in a weight loss program. With the help of my parents buying slim fast and my exercise plan, I lost 47 pounds in seven months. At 110 pounds, I decided I was fit and stopped all supplements and extra-curricular exercise programs.
I now looked like what I figured most normal 14 year old boys look like. At this point I needed to catch up on school. For every seizure I had, I would lose memory cells, and because I had been having so many seizures, I was unable to retain any information I was being taught in school, which cause me to be held back a year and created many of social differences growing up. I had to relearn simple math like my times tables, long division, spelling, grammar, and even speech, which I had started to slur. I now had to deal with what I grew up without realizing.
I was different. I did terrible in school my eighth grade year. I tried everything from after school tutoring to Sylvan Learning Center; it was helping, but not as fast as I wanted it to. I became desperate I started seeking help online, finding chat rooms with other people that were having the same issues. I discovered that the only way to enjoy my life was to enjoy it as it was, not as it should or could be. I had a hard time accepting who I was or what had happened, I never wanted to tell anyone about it, and then, when people found out, they would feel sympathetic.
I used this and started getting help and understanding from my new found friends, people who really did know how to help me. I learned a bunch of new ways to learn what I never could before. I attended seminars on different types of learners; I learned how to study in a way that would help me help myself. I even relearned how to think in a way that made sense to me, and the world started falling into place all around me. I discovered that I was a kinesthetic learner, meaning: I process information best through a “hands-on” experience.
Actually, doing an activity is the easiest way for me to learn. Sitting still while studying is difficult, but writing things down makes it easier to understand. I learned to study while I was enjoying my time; for example I would review flash cards while on a trampoline. Every day, I learned more and more. I learned that I could listen to a lecture while riding my bike or driving. I found that if I was running or jumping I would learn things 30% faster than if I was just reading at my desk. I also found out I had a love for cars.
I would work on a car with a friend, and, five minutes later, I could repeat the steps without a single mistake. I started enjoying learning once I figured out how to learn. I took every chance I got to explain what I had learned to a friend. I felt that a door that was right in front of me for years, had just been unlocked, and I was now able to get to my room without having to walk all the way around my house to climb in the window. I was enlightened, and felt like I could now be a normal person once again. I no longer have seizures, no longer take meds, and no longer believe that is impossible for me to learn.
I am now 19 and have no restrictions because of my past. I have learned to work through all of the troubles and trials that life has tried to block me with. I graduated high school with a 3. 74 GPA, and have not had any troubles with my schooling since my sophomore year. I take every chance I get to tell people that there is hope, there is always hope, and too never give up. Yes, things take time and may feel like they will never change but if you put your mind to it, and try your hardest with what you have on hand, you can do anything that you decide to.