The twenty something advice series throughout this year has really grown and progressed and I am always excited when I get an email from someone wanting to provide advice to fellow twenty somethings via GenPink. A while back I got the following email from Erica of Five Blondes:
The topic I’d love to write about is something along the lines of ‘When your body strikes back’. I was 18 when I started having seizures and It wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I really came to terms with it and accepted it. I have advice I can pass on to others who are having health problems as young adults.
I was really intrigued by this idea. I’ve had several friends, especially in the last year, diagnosed with unique and pretty serious health issues. My friend Andrea recently wrote that if the doc says “well, that only happens to .5% of people, so I wouldn’t worry about it” – she’s usually that .5% . So of course I was interested when Erica was offering to shed some light on this topic.
This guest post was written by Erica, 1 of 5 sisters who blogs at Five Blondes. Erica was 18 when she had her first seizure at her home. Later seizures have disrupted a packed movie theatre, scared video game store employees, and freaked out patrons of the golf course she was working at. It has been about 14 months since her last seizure, thanks in large part to her fiance’s constant reminders to stay medicated. Erica is also hoping that the Canadian government will give her drivers license back soon.
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I remember commotion – voices, strange noises. I had moved – I wasn’t on the couch where I had earlier laid down for a nap, but rather on the cold hardwood floor below. I opened my eyes slowly to see the face of my doctor. Where did he come from, I wondered.
“Well, Erica,” he said, “Looks like you’re not going to be driving for a while. You just had a seizure.”
I was then wheeled out of my own house on a stretcher and traveled to the nearest hospital. Watching buildings, trees, and roads go by through the tiny ambulance window that I normally saw from the drivers seat of a vehicle gave me an incredible sense of deja vu; understanding that I wouldn’t be driving again for some time was depressing. I was experiencing waves of emotion that I didn’t understand, and my body was acting in ways that confounded me.
From that day on, I’ve been confused as to why my brain would do this. Unfortunately, various specialists in the field of neurology are puzzled as well. Developing a seizure disorder in your late teens is actually not entirely uncommon, and while many grow out of their seizures after just a few years ( as my doctors assured me that I likely would), I’m still taking anti-convulsant medication twice a day at 25. I’ve also been sad, depressed, frustrated, and just plain mad. Who wouldn’t be?
I don’t show my emotions very much outwardly and I think that many people in my life don’t realize just how hard on me the past 7 years have been. I’m sure this is true for many 20-somethings experiencing medical difficulties. Your twenties are about beginning your life as an adult and proving yourself in the world – no one wants to be seen as ‘the girl who has seizures’ or ‘the guy with [insert illness here]’. My experience has been that you will soon discover just who in your life cares about you the most. You might be surprised! Naturally, close friends and family have always been there for me, but I’ve also had conversations with one of my great-uncles calling me out of the blue after he heard a news report on a new study of how cranberries might cause seizures. My fiance is number one in my support system – he will remind me to ‘take my meds’ three times a day, after I’ve already taken them while standing beside him. Annoying? Yes! Helpful? Absolutely. I’m asked “Did you take your medication today?” and “how are you doing these days?” because people care about me. If you are in a similar situation, just remember that your friends and family bother you because they care.
One things I constantly find myself repeating is “It’s OK”. It’s OK to be depressed, frustrated, and mad. It’s OK to hate being dependant on medication to live a normal life. It’s OK to do your own research and question your doctors! It’s OK to talk to your friends and family about your feelings (if you’re not comfortable sharing everything, I recommend talking to a therapist – get those feelings out!!), and most of all, it’s OK to rely on others for help – you’ll probably find that they’ll be happy to be there for you.