I hope that by sharing my story, those who know me and see me as ‘normal’ will help drop the stigma that goes with the word seizure. It makes me vulnerable to share this, because the moment I tell this… I am open to people’s limited views and preconceived ideas, but if you read on, you may learn things you didn’t know. Recently I’ve read some of Lisa Genova’s work, who I highly recommend as an author. She writes on the topic of Neurology and the neurosciences in a novel format telling stories of people who’ve had challenges with early onset dementia, autism, or those who’ve suffered with a brain trauma. I think there needs to be more awareness about neurological problems that people experience. People need to know that highly intelligent people can have neurological conditions and not be looked down on or outcast from society. They are still contributors to life!
There are people who doubt that God exists, those whose lives have been fraught with hardships or sorrows. Or those who haven’t had “enough proof” to believe. They don’t see how God could allow bad things to happen to good people; therefore, in their minds… God must not exist. I have been through horrific things in my life. What I am about to share is one of the less horrific things to me. It is my hope that people will realize that we all have things we deal with that are hard in life, but there is always hope.
When I was younger, I did have doubts in my faith, I’ve been there before in my life. But I don’t live there any longer, because I know who I am in Christ. I am Chosen. I am Loved. I am His beloved. God has given me peace. The way you get to the same place in your life, is by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Then you need to read the Bible daily, and ask that the Holy Spirit reveal the truths in it to you.
“But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.” I Corinthians 2:10
There are some things about me only few know. I don’t want sympathy and this is why I don’t usually share my story, but I feel others might benefit if I share some of the things I’ve gone through in my life. When my son was a toddler, I had dizzy spells for several weeks. I went to the doctor and was given pills for vertigo. After three months, I couldn’t walk a straight line across my living room. My doctor decided I should get a CT Scan of my brain and said he would have the results in a week. The very next day he called to say he wanted me to have an MRI and had already scheduled an appointment for that afternoon. They’d found a mass. I saw a neurosurgeon the day after the MRI. The neurosurgeon told me it was an inoperable tumor, the size of a dime in circumference and three inches long in the deepest portion of my brain. He said he couldn’t biopsy it without doing severe damage, and he wanted to monitor it through multiple MRIs. My family panicked and while I didn’t exactly like the report, I prayed about it. God gave me the most indescribable peace. I felt like he told me “Don’t worry, I’ve taken care of it.” I have walked in that faith and that peace ever since, no matter what circumstances have arisen. This was about eighteen years ago. There wasn’t any change until I had a near-fatal car accident in 2001.
I was traveling to my son’s school when I was t-boned by a woman who was doing 85 in a 50 mph zone. Out of eight windows in my Volvo, only two were still intact. The frame was bent, both axles were broken, and the front passenger seat was in the driver’s seat with me. I was unconscious for four hours. I woke up in the ER with several doctors and nurses working on me. They gave me pain medication and I passed out again. I had a concussion, and a head full of glass where I had broken the windshield. I was wearing my seatbelt. Five months later, I required spinal surgery to replace three discs in my neck, and knee surgery from my knee slamming into the dash. My doctor told me the only reason I was alive was because I was driving a Volvo. I told him it was because God spared me.
Nine months after the car wreck, I was trying to return to my landscaping business. I had planned to start with a light day of spraying roses for a client. My son, was with me and we stopped for breakfast at a McDonald’s drive-through. As I pulled in to pay, I put my truck in park, which I never do. The next thing I remember, I was on a gurney being loaded into an ambulance. One week later, my son described in detail what happened, he had been so traumatized by the events he couldn’t talk about it before. I had lost six months of memory and I had dysphasia; I would think one word and another word would come out of my mouth, beyond my control. What my son described was a grand mal seizure. I had never had any type of seizure in my life! I later found out that the car wreck had shifted my tumor into the area of my brain that triggers seizures. My speech straightened out after a couple of months, but I never regained the memory I lost. I keep a calendar of those months and two years surrounding that time-frame in a file in my desk, because it is still mixed up in my memory.
Three weeks later, I had a second grand mal, and I was put on medication. People who have seizures usually have what is called an ‘aura’ or warning, that indicates a seizure might be about to happen. Before the first one, I didn’t have any warning, but I did before the second one and all subsequent ones. To me, it sounds like I have gone into a tunnel, noises are very muffled, or non-existent. My seizures are unique, because most of them are triggered by sounds. Only five percent of all seizures are auditory, they are very rare. They fall into a class called “Partial Simple Sensory” meaning my awareness to my surroundings is maintained. Sensory means that one of the five senses is the trigger, vision is the most common, touch, taste, and smell are equally second. In my case, it is hearing, the least common (sounds trigger them). Less frequently, I have Petit Mal seizures, where I do lose consciousness, without convulsions. I have not had a grand mal seizure since the first two, twelve years ago.
A few years ago, I went to a celebration dinner for the people who voluntarily give of their time in the church I was attending. On the way home, we were sharing our testimonies, and I shared some of my story with the people in the car. I can’t work or spend time in places that have beepers, doorbells, scanners, loudspeakers, two-way radios, or drive-throughs because the frequencies they emit can trigger seizures. I found this out the hard way. I’m supposed to take it easy for a day or so if I have a seizure without loss of consciousness. If I have seizures where I lose consciousness, I cannot drive for six months. Because the type of seizures I have are so rare, even the neurologists know very little about them. I have done quite a bit of research on them and I was the one who figured out why that first seizure occurred in the drive through, it was the frequency of the radio at the drive-through. I later starting figuring out that certain frequencies were triggers, we have our doorbell dismantled, because it is a major trigger. One of the most unusual sounds that bothers me is when someone sneezes. Thankfully, I don’t have any more grand mal seizures, that would be awful when someone had a cold! Also, it is only when someone else sneezes, not my own sneezes! You have to find humor somewhere.
Currently, I am on hiatus from driving, because recently I had a seizure that I lost consciousness. But even in that, I find peace. It is a time for me to step back and look at what is important. It is a time to weigh things out and spend more time with God. I can put my house in order, both physically and spiritually. I can taste, and see that God is good! I pray that you learn also to live in His peace.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7