February 8, 2023

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I Didn’t Find Out I Had Epilepsy Until I Was 28, But I’ve Likely Had It My Whole Life

As advised to Nicole Audrey Spector

November is National Epilepsy Recognition Month.

It happened whilst I was sleeping. I woke up to my then-husband, Duane, sobbing above me in bed. I snapped back into consciousness.

“What are you carrying out, crying?” I requested.

Duane was not one particular to crack down in tears.

“You ended up getting a seizure!” he cried.

I bolted up in terror — not so a great deal for me, but for my infant. I was 20 months expecting with my 2nd little one.

Quickly, I termed my OB-GYN, who in shape me in for an appointment in a few days.

I went back to sleep and had yet another (presumably grand mal) seizure afterwards that night time. Then I started off acquiring little episodes through the working day wherever I would fully blank on in which I was and what I was executing.

My OB-GYN didn’t have any answers about my seizures or no matter what else was going on in my mind — in reality, she did not appear significantly curious about what was leading to them.

She was typically worried with how the infant was executing. She checked for a heartbeat, which was robust, told me I had epilepsy and approved anti-seizure medication for me — and that was that.

The anti-seizure treatment labored for a when. But shortly the seizures returned. I was a continue to be-at-house mother and experienced always devoted myself to caring for my son. But now I necessary my have caregiver simply because I was acquiring various seizures a working day. Duane wasn’t able — or even certainly prepared — to manage the position, so I went to stay with my mom, who works in the health care industry and has generally been a strongly advocate for me.

My mother took me to see an OB-GYN who specialised in substantial-threat pregnancies.

When we were there, she revealed thoroughly surprising facts to the health practitioner: I’d experienced a seizure throughout a fever as a youngster.

This was news to me! Did this necessarily mean I’d constantly experienced epilepsy? Sooner or later I would find out that it in all probability did.

But on that day there ended up far more urgent worries. The OB-GYN found out that I was heading towards early labor. As she described it, everytime I experienced a seizure, my entire body skilled contractions and I acquired closer and nearer to offering my toddler.

I was presently 3 centimeters dilated.

My physician requested strict bed rest — so stringent that I could not do it at residence. She had me admitted to the hospital, where by I remained for three and a fifty percent excruciatingly extensive months, unable to do anything by or for myself.

The worst element was that just one of the a lot of physicians who floated in my space a person day instructed me that it wasn’t the toddler they have been striving to conserve. It was me.

“The toddler will not make it,” the medical professional mentioned in a clinical, detached tone. “She will be stillborn.”

I was devastated.

It was tough for me to get by in the course of all those bedridden months. The gloom and disappointment was as thick as smog. To drive by it, I relied on the like for my son, my connection with God, and generating artwork, which is my profession. I am legally blind and drawing and painting have very long been a way for me to seize the visible beauty of the world all over me — even if I simply cannot usually see it.

Stephanie Gowdy with one of her paintings.Stephanie Gowdy with 1 of her paintings.

Just one of the only factors I was ready to do in the hospital was attract. So I sketched portraits of my mates applying pics on social media.

When I was 38 weeks pregnant, I was induced into labor — and lo and behold, my daughter arrived out alive and properly healthier. It was a miracle.

But I was considerably from out of the woods.

The seizures came back soon after various months, and I have not been able to hold them at bay with any medicine, no subject how superior the dose.

I uncovered that I have been experiencing epilepsy auras, a form of seizure, all my life. And I nevertheless have them.

For me, an epilepsy aura is like a really bad, ominous experience that usually takes root in the pit of my stomach and then branches out in excess of my full staying. It can happen everywhere and at any time, but the violent episodes — the grand mal seizures — nonetheless happen at night, commonly when I am presently asleep.

Stephanie Gowdy and her children, March 2022 (Photo/Sonia Rodney)Stephanie Gowdy and her kids, March 2022 (Photograph/Sonia Rodney)

It is been 6 decades because my daughter was born, and my epilepsy remains a pressure to be reckoned with. I also get horrendous migraine assaults that past months at a time. I’m not able to get out of bed on some times. My memory is fuzzy — so much so that my son has to question his academics to write down any messages for me.

“Otherwise Mommy will neglect,” he suggests.

Quite a few doctors have advised me that they just don’t know what is improper with me — that there is nothing at all they can do. That, more or considerably less, I am on my have.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: My journey with epilepsy has been hellish. And yet it’s not ever without the need of hope — not even for a second.

I not only passionately believe I will find responses as I go on to demand them, but that I am likely via all this for a reason that is greater than me.

There has presently been a person silver lining simply because of my epilepsy: Duane and I divorced. That seems sad, but belief me, it is a blessing. Experienced I not gotten unwell, we could not have ever realized that we have been incompatible.

And I hardly ever stop looking for answers. I advocate tirelessly for myself, as do my mother and my friends. I know that if I don’t learn a overcome for my epilepsy, I will find a procedure that keeps it less than management.

In spite of the overpowering suffering and exhaustion, artwork flows out from my hands, filling up internet pages and pages. I may well be unable to completely see, but my inventive vision is focused. I may perhaps tremble and ache from the seizures, but my hand is steady.

And I am self-confident that a single day, I will be properly.

Our Real Girls, Authentic Tales are the authentic encounters of real-lifestyle females. The sights, views and experiences shared in these stories are not endorsed by HealthyWomen and do not automatically replicate the formal plan or position of HealthyWomen.

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