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Kristen’s Story

2020 Educational Enrichment Fund Scholar

I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2006 and since then my life has never been the same. I have felt more shame than I ever thought possible. I have had doctors misdiagnose me. I have had nursing instructors make me feel insignificant and unworthy due do my disability. I have been kicked out of school and treated like I was less than.

In addition to my social struggles, I have also struggled with the fear of having a tonic-clonic seizure in public. I struggle with having absence seizures daily. My absence seizures are considered drug-resistant and the medication changes have caused a lot of mental trauma.

In 2014 I had a VNS implanted, but in early 2019 it started causing me significant pain. I had one generator replacement in August 2019 and one full lead replacement in October of 2019. Unfortunately, neither of these has helped the pain and I have had to turn the device down causing an increase in absence seizures. I live in fear daily, as do most people with epilepsy. However, I succeed at work as a well-respected nurse and peer.

The mistreatment I have had in my past leads me to help educate those around me about this illness. At camp each year I use my position to help motivate the children. I share my story with them and help them understand that they can do whatever they want. I want to be an inspiration to people who have been beaten down just like me. Becoming a nurse practitioner is another step towards helping others living with any ailment. Down the line, I hope to help and treat children living with epilepsy. This level of education will allow me to have more education surrounding epilepsy, but it will also allow me to show others that epilepsy does not define someone.

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