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To Myself When I Was Just Diagnosed With Epilepsy

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Dear La Wana,

You are 23 with two toddlers and you just had your first seizure. It was scary, you are scared and you feel alone. You have a lot of tests run and they find nothing. Your doctors decide that we will “see what happens.” Well, five months later it happens… another seizure. You are diagnosed with epilepsy and like so many others you may never know why. You lose your license for three months and are placed on short-term disability. It is tough. At 23, no one can explain to you or help you understand why your seemingly good health has been taken from you.

You move on, you live. You go back to school and get a divorce. You begin a career and find the man of your dreams. You change medication and have another seizure, a minor setback, but it does dash your hopes of a medication-free future. You move on, La Wana, you live.

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You raise two amazing children and manage to even have a third child during a few seizure-free years. Life is perfect, eight-and-a-half years seizure-free, you’ve got this La Wana… until you don’t. At 36 you will have another seizure, this time hitting your head and receiving a concussion. It is tough — tougher than you ever imagined. You lose your license for six months and take some time off work. You are diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. You are confused, tired and forgetful. There are headaches, there is major depression, and there is suicidal ideation. But you move on and find a way to want to live again.

The doctor will change your seizure medication and a new doctor, a psychiatrist, will add medication. It is scary but it is life-changing, or dare I say life-saving. The new seizure medication has much better control over the small seizures that would sometimes disrupt your life before, and so far no new grand mal seizures. There are setbacks, just like there always are in life. You move on, you live.

You have found a new way of life. You are not glad you had your seizure and concussion, but you are grateful for the lessons you have learned from it. Every trial in life brings blessings. You have learned to truly appreciate your health. You and your husband have spent so much more time together and are much better at communicating than before; you can’t help but be grateful for that. You spend lots of time with your children while home recovering, developing deeper bonds and a reason to live. Your husband, daughter and sister take turns driving you places while your driver’s license is revoked, working together as a family team and making you closer in your relationships. Your sisters and parents are your cheerleaders and defenders, always calling and checking on you, always celebrating your small successes, helping you to live. Depending on others has made you appreciate and love them deeper than you had before. There is beauty in vulnerability, and you are blessed by those who protected you and cared for you during this time. You are grateful.

You could spend time reflecting on the horrors and trials epilepsy has brought you, but you prefer to reflect on the positive instead. You move on, and you truly learn to live.

Image via contributor

Originally published: April 1, 2016
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