Change. Changing routines. Changing dietary habits. Changing life paths. What ever it may be some people take change in stride; others are opposed to any sort of change. Different people view change as scary or an exciting obstacle. Sometimes change is mundane, other times it uproots your entire life, all of your plans and the direction of your future. Me? I tend to take change as a challenge. An exciting adventure ahead. Voluntary change excites me whether it be moving half-way across the country or just simply a new nightly routine to follow to improve my health. I’ve never really dealt with the opposite, involuntary change, such as parental divorce, a change of homes or schools, etc. that is until now…
Day 10 of my 15 day trip home landed me in the acute care clinic of Olmsted Medical Center. Words such as neurologist, pituitary gland, endocrinologist and benign growth in my brain (prolactinoma) were being thrown around while I was struggling to sit up without feeling light headed and nauseous. Not even 2 hours earlier I had woken up from a nap, walked down the stairs to eat a cracker, grabbed a glass of water and felt myself get really dizzy and my vision went black while near my kitchen table. Next thing I knew I could hear someone calling my name and I awoke lying on the living room floor. I was overheated and scared and confused as to how I had gotten there. Unfortunately this was nothing new to my medical history. I had had a seizure before…four to be exact. Two in 2006, one in 2007 and we just discovered that I had 1 more back in 2014. Although nothing brand new it was still scary when we thought that it had been pediatric epilepsy and I had ‘grown out of it.’
The doctor that I saw encouraged me to find care in South Carolina, since I was supposed to be flying out in 5 days. But I knew I would be more comfortable getting it all done in Rochester, MN. I requested appointments and the first available for both specialties were in a month and in July. Ha! Good thing I don’t want answers right away, right? Wrong!! I wanted answers and I wanted them now! After being referred to the Mayo Clinic I received diagnoses and plans and prescribed medications within 2 weeks of my episode.
So what does this all have to do with change? I mentioned that I’ve had seizures before so how is this time around any different? This time I am 21 years old. I can drive. I can drink. I live away from home. And the time between seizures is increasing. It had been 7 years, and now it’s been 3. With that being said, I am officially on anti-epileptic medication. For the rest of my life. This may not seem like much, as many people rely on various medications to deal with problems that they have, but I have never dealt with any of that. I had slight allergies as a child, but otherwise the only medication I’ve relied on was Advil to get me through tough dance days/weeks/performances! I don’t know if/when I would have another seizure in my future…possibly never, but everyone would rather be safe than sorry, right? Although I do agree with this mindset it’s a hard concept to wrap my head around. Last time when I was diagnosed little to no precautions were really taken. Just to be aware. Now, I am on medication not knowing if I would have ever had a seizure again if I were off of it, I can’t drive for the next 6 months, I can’t go into a pool by myself, I can’t consume more than 1 alcoholic drink in a night and apparently I NEED A BIKE!!
These changes aren’t the end of the world, they’re just restricting. 1 in 26 people develop epilepsy at some point in their life. That is a high statistic and means that I’m not the only one needing to make these changes. The hardest part is that they’re involuntary changes and for that it is difficult. I went from dancing and working every day to being cooped up in a camper all day for the next six months. I went from enjoying exploring and seeing cities by myself, to being scared to do these things alone. I am unable to even just head to the grocery store by myself because it is a 3 mile walk in both directions….doable? Yes. Ideal? Far from it especially in the heat of South Carolina and when the majority of the trip would be along a busy County Road!
Change. The world around us is ever changing. With each change comes new experiences and new lessons learned. I am lucky that I had already been planning on attending school online starting in just three weeks. I had already been planning on finding work online and have been half-way successful. Although this is the case it’s still challenging to look beyond diagnoses, restrictions and medication.
I am used to living an active lifestyle but at this point the most active part of my day is walking the loop around the campground various times while people drive by me and stare…great fun. Really… I know that it’s ‘only‘ six months, but it’s been four and a half days and I’m already sick of it! I feel like I’m wasting so much of every day playing on my phone, browsing the internet, reading and watching Netflix. How thrilling?? Right? I just have to keep reminding myself that things could be much worse. I could have needed surgery. I could have a brain injury. I could be unable to attend school. So so many things could have been worse. I was lucky to be with my family when it did happen and throughout the entire medical process. Now it is my time to find some new passions! Something to get me out of bed every day and motivated to get work done! If anyone has any suggestions that’d be great 😉