At the age of five, I developed epilepsy. I had contracted a sore throat and an ear infection. Concerned my mother had brought me to the doctor's office that evening and the pediatrician had put me on penicillin and told my mother to have me rest in bed. No one thought much of it at the time. When you are young, your immune system is weak and catching any bug surfacing in the air is all too easy, especially, sore throats and ear infections.
I rested in bed and I was on penicillin for about ten days. On the tenth night when she put me to bed, my lips were more red than usual. During the night around 8:00 P.M., my mother woke up because she heard unusual noises coming from my room that sounded like I was choking on my saliva. Chills bolted down my mother’s spine as she clenched her fists as the shadows of fear slowly creped upon her. Quickly she jumped out of bed and raced to my room. She slowly turned the knob and entered my dark bedroom. The darkness was not because of the time of night it was because the shadow of death was slowly creeping over me. Her worst nightmare had become a reality. She found me under my covers turning blue and having a convulsion.
It is hard enough to have to see your child when they are sick with a cold but to have to experience such a horrific episode is something any mother should not have to bare. This was the first time I ever had a seizure.
Frantically she ran to the phone to call 911. The ambulance quickly arrived and rushed me to the hospital. They brought me directly to the emergency room and hurried me to the isolation ward. The doctors were unsure of the diagnosis. They had no clue if this was any type of serious or contagious illness brought on the seizure. The doctors at the hospital diagnosed the convulsion as a grand mal seizure.
Once again, I fell to the floor, my eyes rolled to the left and my whole body began to shake. My teeth began to chatter, and I started to foam at the mouth and choke on my saliva and my skin color began to turn bluish because of the lack of oxygen I was enduring.
The doctors administered many tests to try to diagnose the cause of the grand mal seizure. After watching closely over me for days, the doctors finally concluded that the grand mal seizure came from a virus. The virus I had was not an ordinary virus. It was a virus known as encephalitis. The doctors had told my parents that the bacteria from the ear infection had traveled to my head and that the virus was still in my brain. The doctors had told my parents that the viral encephalitis had to leave my brain naturally on its own. The doctors were not sure when the germ would leave my brain. Then said that while the virus was in my brain that it could possibly leave me with some type of brain damage.
I was in an induced coma for four days after the grand mal seizure. The doctor had told my parents while I was in a coma that if I were to come out alive I would probably have severe brain damage and there was a good chance that I was going to become paraplegic.
Fear terrified their bones. The horrible news devastated my parents, but they never gave up hope. On the fourth day while I was in a coma, my father lay by my bedside and began praying to a saint. My father was originally from Greece and saints played a big role in the Greek Orthodox religion.
As my father, lay beside me praying visualizing the Greek statue that stood in front of the Greek Church, on the Greek island of Cyprus. This was no ordinary statue. This beautiful statue was of a saint. The unique carvings made the statue made the statue look real. It was said when tears rolled down her eyes she was performing miracles as she answered the prayers of people who were in need of her help.
As my father prayed and ask the saint to heal me, slowly he raised his head and looked up at me. To his astonishment, he saw a golden light shinning over me. Speechless, he stared at me in complete silence as the golden light shinned over me.
Suddenly he saw my lifeless body begin to move. Chills ran down his spine. Suddenly, a teardrop rolled off from my eye and down my face and I woke up to find my parents by my bedside.
My parents were stunned. They wanted to say something, but they could not speak. They felt brainless, as if all their thoughts had been stolen.
The first words out of my mouth were, “Can I have McDonalds French fries?” The doctors gasped and said that is was a true miracle. I had no brain damage, I was not paraplegic, but I did developed epilepsy from this illness. Until this day, they cannot find the scar tissue that causes the epilepsy. I have fought many difficult obstacles in my life due to my disorder.
I refused to let epilepsy depress or control me. If Vincent Van Gogh could be a famous painter despite being epileptic, then I should be able to become a success too. I believe God does everything for a reason.
When someone has epilepsy or any disability, one needs to realize that you cannot do everything by yourself. You need strength, wisdom, knowledge, hope, a positive outlook and most of all faith. Faith in a higher power.
I have come to realize that no one is perfect we all have our flaws.
It may sound like I have everything under control. It may also sound like epilepsy has not affected my life. Honestly, it was very difficult to learn to accept myself with epilepsy. Over the years, I have learned to love myself and to be proud of my accomplishments.
I have realized over the years that you can do anything they want in life, if you try hard enough and put your mind to it. You need to understand that you can become your worst enemy if you let yourself. YOU CANNOT GIVE UP. You cannot fail if you try. Failure is when you give up on yourself.
You need to keep trying until you succeed.
Mentally, epilepsy has helped me mature and accept myself for whom I am. Accepting yourself is one of the most important steps to healing. You need to understand that yes, I have a disability and nothing going to change in that respect. Nevertheless, I have special qualities and characteristics that I can share with the world to help others like myself. The greatest gift is the gift of giving.
Spiritually I have learned a lot about myself; I have found myself, the real Stacey. I have also learned that I cannot let having epilepsy control my life. Yes, I have epilepsy, but I do not have to stop living. Life goes on! Be proud to be you.
You need to love yourself and be satisfied with your life. If you are not satisfied than change the things in your life that make you unhappy!
You need to realize also that there are plenty of people with disabilities. You should not feel ashamed or feel different from other people. We all have a special beauty within us. No one is perfect or has a flawless life.
As I mentioned before, I truly believe that all things happen for a reason. I believe that our lives are planned for us a head of time. Epilepsy has taught me to appreciate life and appreciate what God has given me. It has helped me develop confidence in myself and to love myself. Epilepsy has also made me want to reach out and help others.
In short, miracles are real and your dreams can become a reality.
I graduated from Richard Stockton College in Pomona, New Jersey, majoring in marketing and advertisement. In the mid-nineties while in college, I began my first book, Epilepsy: You’re Not Alone. It was published six years later. Since then I have published sixteen books. Before and after graduation in 1996, I worked in New York City for NBC. Since the birth of my children, I have been a freelance journalist.
I have written features for journals and newspapers. My articles have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines in North America and abroad. I won an award from the Epilepsy Foundation of America in 2002 for my help and dedication to people with epilepsy.
I am committed to helping individuals with disabilities, diseases and disorders. I am aware of the challenges and triumphs of helping individuals and their families who have disorders or disabilities. Still, I am determined to conquer any obstacles that get in my way. In closing, individuals who have a disorder can live a healthy, happy, and productive life. Faith and miracles are real, just look around you.