An Abnormal Childhood This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 23, 2011
By , Platteville, WI
While most teenagers have memories of playing in the sandbox or going to a friend's house for their first sleepover, I have none of these. Instead, I remember my parents hovering over me, never letting me do anything by myself. I also have memories of passing out in class and waking with the school nurse at my side. This is because I was one of the unlucky children with epilepsy, a disease in which abnormal electrical signals in the brain cause seizures.

I was under a year old when I began having seizures. After my first, I was medflighted to the hospital, but the doctors said this wasn't uncommon in babies. Then I had another, and my parents knew something was really wrong.

When I was diagnosed with epilepsy, a routine began. I would have a seizure about every two weeks, go to the doctor, get blood drawn, and have my medication increased. A few times, the doctor overdosed me and I had to be medflighted to the hospital. This was my routine for my first six years.

My parents realized they couldn't do this for the rest of my life. They worried I wouldn't be able to drive a car or be alone, and that I might never be able to live independently. They researched various options, one of which was a special diet. However, my parents dropped this option because they realized it would be hard to regulate the diet of a six-year-old.

Then they researched brain surgery. They discovered that while it was risky, it was probably the best option and if successful, it would cure my epilepsy forever.

So, on October 1, 1999, my grandmother's eightieth birthday and nine days after my seventh, I had an operation to remove the left temporal lobe of my brain, an area that controls speech and memory. One possible side effect was that I might have to relearn how to talk. Fortunately, I was able to speak right after the surgery, and a week later, I was released from the hospital. I had to miss school for the rest of the month. Since half my head had been shaved, my parents and relatives gave me hats to wear.

In the decade since my operation, I haven't had a single seizure. And after an EEG (a test in which the patient falls asleep with electrodes attached to her head), an MRI scan, and a neuro-psych test, doctors confirmed that I had no negative side effects from the epilepsy or the surgery.

Every day I enjoy the benefits of being free from epilepsy, whether it's driving to school or swimming on my own, or simply not feeling like I am attached to my parents anymore.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

SignGirl said...
Apr. 28, 2011 at 8:29 pm
My friend Had that surgery too, his whole left-side of his body is pretty much dead weight. but he is free from his epilepsy, and he can use sign language, he can play piano, and he is just amazing. Also my brother has epilepsy, and he grew out of most of it. so I can totally relate with two people in my life with epilepsy. Thank you for posting this article.
shinegirl24 said...
Apr. 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm
Wow. You wrote this really well. Very powerful message. I really didn't know much about epilepsy before, but I am very glad you are  epilepsy free!
musiqqlvr31 said...
Apr. 26, 2011 at 1:40 am
I'm so happy for you! This article is awesome...I pray for all suffering from elipsey
kelsee727 said...
Apr. 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm
I'm very glad that you are now free from epilepsy. It is unfortunate for those that cannot get rid of it. Hopefully that all changes.
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