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When I Had an Unexplained Seizure in Class, My Professor Stepped In


I was 21 years old and living away at school for the first time. It was two weeks in, and I was sitting in my last class of the day on a Friday afternoon. The class was a mandatory wellness class that was only 50 minutes long. I sat through most of the class before I started feeling dizzy. This was nothing unusual as I get dizzy frequently and passed out numerous times. However, as the class finished and I sat at the front of a small lecture hall, I realized I couldn’t stand up. The world felt like it was spinning around me and everything looked like it had a glow like angels in movies. The professor realized something was wrong and came over to check on me.

The professor was a charismatic woman who enjoyed teaching and tried her hardest to make the class enjoyable for everyone. I had yet to really talk to her because I had only been in this class for two weeks. However, lucky for me her background wasn’t just in education but in nursing. She was and still is a registered nurse.

As I sat there complaining of dizziness, she asked the other students who had stayed behind if they had anything to eat. I was handed a snack bar and told to eat a couple bites. I took a small bite and almost threw up. This was when my professor realized something was wrong. She asked the students to help me out of the classroom to the couches in the lounge nearby. I remember being laid down on the couch and from there, nothing.

When I woke up, I was being held by several people as I was lying on my side on the couch. There was commotion as I came to, and my professor began asking questions.  How was I feeling? Did anything hurt? I couldn’t talk, I could barely think, and everything felt so blurry. Before I knew it, the EMTs showed up. This wasn’t my first run-in with EMTs, and I wasn’t happy to see them there. The cuff went on my arm, the monitor on my finger and the oxygen over my face. This is when the panic kicked in.

I have battled a panic disorder since I was 15 and am usually capable of working through panic attacks with medication and the help of people around me. However, on this day, I couldn’t speak and I knew nobody there. My second language is American Sign Language, and I tried signing but nobody there knew how to sign. This is when I began to fight the EMTs. I pulled off the mask and pulled at the cuff on my arm, scratching myself in the process. This is when my professor stepped in.

I barely knew her at the time, and yet she sat down next to me on the couch and sent everybody else away. She helped sit me up and put her hand on my leg and just talked to me. She wasn’t looking for a response or answers to any questions; she was just talking. She told me everything that happened, why they called the EMTs and what the EMTs were doing. She never left my side.

She was there for me after I refused medical assistance and the EMTs left. She was there for me as a girl who lived in my dormitory hall took me to the nurse’s office. She was there on the day when I went back to class and stood up in front of the entire class and explained what had happened.

I had an unexplained seizure. This is what I was told when I was taken to the ER later that afternoon just in case. This was the first and only seizure I had ever had and just another thing on my long list of medical difficulties. I was away from home truly for the first time and was now facing the longest mental recovery I had ever dealt with.

I was extremely lucky to have that professor with me that day. I have thought back on that multiple times wondering what would have happened if I had left class and fallen in the parking lot or if I had been alone in my dorm. I’m truly thankful to my professor and to all the students who were there to help me and to the students who stayed with me in my dorm over the weekend and took care of me. I’m lucky to have made a lifelong friend with my professor. I will forever be grateful to her for all she has done for me.

The Mighty is asking the following: What was one moment you received help in an unexpected or unorthodox way related to disability, disease or mental illness? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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