I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 5 years old. I broke my wrist, and when they set it back in place I had my first seizure. I was on medication that seemed to have them under control. When I was 11 years old, I was taken off my medication completely, and I was seizure free for 2 years.
Then, all of a sudden in 8th grade, I was attending a school event where I had a grand mal seizure. After that I continued to have them. I went through 6 different medications to try and control them. At times it seemed like the medicine was controlling my seizures, but I felt horrible. I was tired, didn’t feel like doing anything, didn’t feel like myself, and definitely couldn’t be the kid I wanted to be.
I felt like I was limited in what I could and couldn’t do; I felt like I had to be watched all the time; and I really felt like a burden to many people. My license was taken away because of the seizures, so I had to rely on others to get places. But I did not let epilepsy run my life. I was able to get a job at 16 years old, which I still have to this day. I have two beautiful daughters who have no signs of epilepsy.
After 27 years of battling epilepsy, I was referred to the University of Chicago Medicine where I met an extremely amazing team of doctors, including Dr. Wu who found the right treatment for me. The entire process took about a year and half because of certain tests that had to be done, video monitoring, and the surgery itself. I knew when it was time for surgery I wanted to help others, so I participated in research studies during the process. In October of 2016, I had a lobectomy surgery performed by Dr. Warnke at the University of Chicago, and I have been seizure free for over a year!!!
If there was a way I could help others, I absolutely wanted to, and I would still do it to this day! We have to find a cure for epilepsy. I did not let epilepsy define me, I refused to give up, and I hope I helped others along the way.