I was halfway through my first year of medical school when I had my first seizure. Eight months later I was diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy – the day after my 20th birthday.
I went back to University with a new diagnosis, drugs, protocols, limits. I couldn’t drive anymore, swim, drink alcohol, stay out late. Strapped to my arm was a band saying EPILEPSY. My life was different.
I continued to have seizures but they were decreasing with medication adjustments. And on the 13th of December 2017, I had a seizure that lasted over 10 minutes and to this day it has left its mark.
I noticed my Lecturers were speaking lower than normal - actually, everyone was!
I went to my Neurologist and then an Audiologist. and was diagnosed with 80% Sensorineural hearing loss in one ear and 40% in the other. I now wear hearing aids.
I felt for a long time like epilepsy had taken everything from me. I was miserable and then that misery became anger. I was so angry at the world; that this had happened to me. I was a good person! I had dedicated my life to the service of others. I didn’t deserve this. And that’s where I found my problem. Yes, I didn’t deserve this but neither did anyone else. If 1 in 26 people will have a seizure, what was stopping me from being that lucky candidate? Why was I any better than the rest in order to be spared? Those people deserve it no more then I. This realization is what has gotten me through the toughest of times; the realization that I am no better, or no worse and that this wasn’t a punishment or a gift, it just is what it is. I can’t change what happened and what will happen regarding my neurological health, but I can decide how I deal with it. I won’t let anger and spite be my life.
A year on, it’s something I still deal with - there are days when I just don’t want to take my medication, when I want to drive, when I want to hear the joke that everyone is laughing at! But mostly I have put it in a place where I can live with it, deal with it, and learn from it. I am in my 3rd year of medicine; something no one believed I could achieve. I am sharing my story so that if I can help at least one person going through a similar experience as me; it will have been worth it.
My name is Andrea and I have epilepsy. But I now realize that I am so much more than that.