MY STORY: ABSENSE SEIZURES
Hi, my name is Scarlett. I am writing this in hopes that one day you will be seizure free like I am now. This is my story. In 1975, at age 10. I was diagnosed with Petit Mal Epilepsy. Petit Mal is an absence seizure, commonly mistaken as a daydream, ignorance or tiredness. I have always been a bit of a daydreamer. I use to plan stories in class, get home and jot a whole story out that I had planned in a Math class.
While I was in a class, my vision were blurred and I felt my eyes drifting back. I could hear my teacher say my name to answer the question, but I couldn’t reply…my hand remained up and that was it…I was completely absent…I couldn’t hear, speak or move.“Scarlett? Scarlett you can answer the question, put your arm down”. Their voices were faint but I could hear them. My vision came back and I looked around the room only to find everyone looking at me. A few children were smirking and my teacher was looking at me confused. I was falling behind with school work, I was going absent all the time and I was getting so embarrassed. People laughed as I stopped still in the halls and when I didn’t answer what the teacher was asking.
I began to cry, I was so confused and didn’t know how long I was absent for. I shook my head and my teacher took me out of the classroom. “Scarlett I think I need to talk to your Mum, I have noticed you go absent a few times today. Do you feel ok?” How could I explain what happened, if I didn’t know myself?
How could I explain that I wasn’t being rude, and that I couldn’t control my daydreams. “I feel…embarrassed” At that point my teacher went to speak with my Mum, who conveniently worked at the primary school. That is my earliest memory of what is called Petit mal epilepsy.
One day, as we were crossing the main road to go for a walk, I had a seizure. My parents were walking ahead with my younger brother, and I was walking behind them, talking to them but just walking slowly. As the lights turned from green to red, I went absent, in the middle of the road. I began to hear the horns from the cars, but that is all. 2 minutes that seizure lasted. My Mum took me to my GP a few days later, I didn’t know this but she was watching me at home to see how often I ‘daydreamed’. She calculated a total of 21 and more absences a day. Each seizure was terrifying, My parents prayed that I would eventually be cured. Coming to and struggling to remember where you are, why these people are staring at you, and who they are is frightening. Losing control of your bladder and being rolled out of a building on a stretcher are embarrassing. Hanging out in the emergency room for hours is boring.
For years, I went from Doctor to many Neurologists to an Epileptologist trying to find a cause and cure for my seizures. I tried every medication and dosage imaginable but nothing seemed to work. For years I always thought I was having seizures due to my sister dying when she was five years old of an open heart surgery. I was 10 at that time. Years later, I found out that wasn’t true. As I matured into my mid 20’s, my seizures turned from the mild Petit Mal seizures to the more Complex Partial seizures. I not only was having staring episodes but I was also falling down, leaving my house, and sometimes ending up many blocks away from where I originally started. I was taking three different medications, 21 pills a day and taking naps during my lunch hour because of the high dosage of medication. No matter what I would do (i.e. relaxation tapes, breathing techniques, etc.) I could not get my seizures under control. I suffered from a lot side effects like tiredness, weakness, headaches, sickness and more. It was a lot to deal with, especially as coursework was piling up and exams were getting closer. I was violently ill, I had night shakes, sickness, stomach cramps, nightmares, I suffered from hallucinations so bad that I saw clowns and spiders coming out of my walls. It was so real that I thought I was dreaming when my Mum told me there was nothing there.
In 2005, my Neurologist referred me to Dr. Joseph Bryan (an Herbalist). Yes, I had my doubts about Joseph herbal product but being directed there by a professional I had to do it. It wasn’t until that year, when I went to see Dr. Joseph that I found out what the cause of my seizures was from. While in the patient room waiting for Dr. Joseph, Joseph’s Assistance came in. After talking with him, he had figured out that I had scarring on the right side of my brain from a high-fever seizure I had when I was a baby and this has to do with the neurotransmitter. The scar tissue is what was causing my seizures. She said it was very common, the scar tissue was located on the right side of my brain. So I began reading up about naturally occurring brain chemicals and neurotransmitters. This knowledge made hearing voices scientific and not supernatural. And they promised to prepared their herbal medicine based on this information, Dr.Joseph Assistant did all these, few months later I was completely free of any fit. I finished my undergraduate and graduate school, drove a car, got married, had a baby, traveled alone internationally, rode the bus alone across the country, participated in half-marathons, and moved by myself multiple times within the United States. In other words, I lived life. Each of us has something unique and beautiful to share with the world in spite of — or perhaps because of — our epilepsy. I wish you all luck and hope that someday your lives will be SEIZURE FREE! Although my epilepsy was challenging, it made me the strong and determined person. I am able to live a life free of the worry of having a seizure any day.
--- Authored by: Scarlett Gaucin, 17/05/2007