You can’t cook alone, bathe alone, or climb any ladders. You can’t watch children on your own. No driving. And absolutely no solo travel.
For the rest of my life?
Yes. Oh, and you will also be prescribed medication for the remainder of your life.
I sat there in silence – my eyes beginning to fill with water, comprehending each word the doctor was saying. Stunned. A deer in the headlights. Trying to comprehend if this was, in fact, real life. And if so, was it, in fact, my life.
You see. I love cooking alone.
Taking a warm, stress relieving bubble bath.
I love driving with the windows down, wind in my hair, blasting my song of the week.
As the oldest in my family I have always been a “built in babysitter” and once even dreamed of being an Au Pair abroad in Paris, while perfecting my French.
In one quick sentence, the doctor damned it all. All of the things I love and even the things I dream of… (well, maybe not climbing up ladders all the time – but I would like the option to!)
Brittany, this is your second grand-mal (tonic clonic) seizure, after reading the reports and checking your scans, we have come to the diagnosis that you are epileptic…* Do you have any questions?
I quickly shook my head “no.”
My eyes watered and my tongue seemed to be swallowed to my gut.
I had no voice.
I felt like I was damaged goods.
Okay then, here is your prescription… you have a nice day! Take care!
In one moment. In one sentence from a doctor. Everything changed.
My light was quickly snuffed out.
Every aspiration, hope, and dream faded into the blackness.
I fell into a dark depression.
I meditated on each word the uncaring doctor spoke, and went entirely numb.
Life moved on.
The familiar feelings of waking up sore and nauseous became a regular occurrence.
How am I waking up on the floor again?
Then the pain would set in.
My tongue and lip would ache with the taste of blood coating my mouth,
Or even better, I would realize my pants were wet with urine.
That is when I would realize it:
I had another seizure.
It’s a strange feeling, coming-to after a seizure.
I find myself extremely calm afterwards – curiously searching my surroundings like a newborn.
But then, the puking begins.
That’s when the sadness and disappointment start to creep in.
Sadness over the fact that all of my healing work was not effective.
Rather, I was living up to the definition of epilepsy and everything that it entailed…
For the first two years, I boxed myself into a depressed life full of fear.
“But what about the medication?”
Honestly, the medication didn’t help either. In fact, it made me mentally slow.
It took me at least three times longer to comprehend what people were saying when they spoke to me. Responding was even more of a challenge.
“Brittany – look at your life! You are living the dream in Hawai’i!”
In reality, I was living in my own personal hell in paradise.
Marinating in misery.
No family, hardly any friends.
I was in denial. Lazy.
My creativity was stifled, buried deep inside the darkness.
I was a hamster on a wheel, repeating a cycle I couldn’t see an option out of.
Finally – I had a wake up call.
My inner child spoke to me and pulled me out of my cycle of despair.
I realized the medication was slowing me down – and numbing my spirit
I weaned myself off of it quickly, trying to avoid another seizure, but eager to FEEL again.
Finally, like a dark rain cloud allowing the sun to shine: I was feeling alive!
Fast forward to six months later. I was traveling back in Georgia to visit family for the holidays. I stopped in Atlanta to visit with my best friend. I was so excited for this long awaited reunion.
First night there, my face catches me on the bathroom stall as I am sitting down to pee.
I had a freaking seizure in the bathroom stall of a trendy pizza restaurant in downtown Atlanta.
My best friend sprung into action, crawling under the bathroom stall, pulling up my underwear, and getting me out of that tiny enclosed space.
Now that’s love.
After calling for help, the paramedics arrived and carried me on a stretcher out of the bathroom, through the restaurant, and into the ambulance.
Even though I was barely conscious.
And sore as a mofo.
I was so embarrassed.
And I never even got to try the pizza!
So our two day reunion turned into a two day recovery for me.
“Brittany, you HAVE to get back on medication.”
My family began to beg and plead.
Finally, I agreed to try something different.
Though the medication seemed to be working, and I was pleased with the lack of side effects, I once again felt loss.
Loss of pride, loss of my dignity.
Loss of my independence once again.
But through this new medication, and as the length of my episodes increased I began to regain hope. My sense of self. My eagerness to explore, create, and laugh.
I felt like I was finally smiling after years of sorrow.
More than ever, I took the phrase: we never know how long we have to live this life to heart.
I didn’t want to die having never lived.
It took me eight long years to admit I am epileptic.
I am only prone to seizures… I would occasionally admit, as if saying it fully would speak it back into existence. I lived many years thinking that my last episode, would be the last.
Brittay, you can’t identify your enemies if you don’t call them out.
Truer words had never been spoken.
It was around the 21st episode that I was finally honest with myself.
Epilepsy is something I would never wish on my worst enemy, though I am thankful for the lessons it has taught me throughout the years.
Don’t let a diagnosis take away your passion.
Incorporating a healthy lifestyle paired with healing habits does not only make you physically stronger, but mentally and spiritually as well.
I am proud to share I recently returned from a six week-long trip through Europe and Israel: much of which I was traveling alone.
I swam in the ocean alone.
I drove the country roads of Greece alone.
Hell, I even climbed up a ladder to the top bunk bed in many hostels.
I fuckin’ did it.
Empower yourself. It is a beautiful thing.
And don’t ever forget how great you are.
Stay in touch <3
* Epilepsy is a group of related disorders in the brain’s electrical systems that are characterized by a tendency to cause recurrent seizures. Seizures cause changes in movement, behavior, sensation, or awareness, including loss of consciousness or convulsions, which last from a few seconds to a few minutes in most individuals. (medicinenet.com)