This story is about a young girl who was diagnosed in epilepsy and her journey through school life.
WHAT IS EPILEPSY?
Epilepsy - a neurological disorder that is diagnosed after multiple episodes of loss of consciousness, disturbance in your senses, and/or seizures.
HOW IS EPILEPSY TREATED?
Epilepsy is treated by medications, dietary changes, and/or surgery.
CAN EPILEPSY BE CURED?
Epilepsy cannot be cured but can be controlled
My sister first started having seizures in the summer before eighth grade while I was in sixth after a major brain injury. She was hit in the head with a soccer ball during a 3v3 tournament and ever since that moment her whole life changed. She started seizing immediately and was rushed to the hospital.
HOW DID THIS AFFECT HER SCHOOL LIFE?
My siblings and I all enrolled in small, private school. Rileys injury happened in the summer but because of how major the injury was, she still was in and out of the hospital during the beginning of school. Because of her having seizures multiple times a week and chronic headaches, she was unable to attend full days of school. She had to go half days and because of this she missed multiple school hours. Many teachers did not understand what was going on and just put 0’s in the gradebook. Even though she is very smart and an amazing testaker, her grades did not show that. She did graduate 8th grade and eventually moved on to highschool.
Riley continued to have seizures her freshman year of highschool and had to year a special kind of beanie to help prevent hitting her head when having seizures. She was in a new school and people knew here as the girl who wore a weird hat and seized all the time. There were even times when her fellow classmates recorded her when she was having on of seizures. This made Riley not want to come to school and she even asked if she could be homeschooled. Because of her missed attendance and seizures that also gave her chronic headaches Riley had to have tutors come to the house twice a week to help her with her work. She still did not have the best GPA even though she tried so hard too - her health just did not allow her to get the best of grades. This happened throughout high school, some quarters were better than others. Epilepsy is one of those diseases where it can't be cured and Riley sometimes had months where she went to school a lot and others were she had to skip. Senior year Riley had a really rough time with her epilepsy. They were constantly changing medicine and Riley was not able to attend most school days because of how sick she was from the medicine changes and the side effects of epilepsy. She decided it would be best to graduate early. In order to do that she had to take a test. She almost scored perfect. Riley was able to graduate and focus on her health for a couple of months. Her health improved and her stress of missing school declined. The next step was college. Riley fell in love with Missouri State but the average acceptance GPA was nowhere near hers. If you were to look at Riley’s grades you would see someone who did not care or do their work, but Riley was the opposite - she cared so much. Her test scores were completely different - she got a greater than average ACT score and the test for her to graduate early was an amazing score. Riley had to get many teachers to write Missouri State to recommend Riley. After months of back and forth with the college Riley got accepted.
Rileys freshman year of college, her epilepsy got in control. Her medicine was finally working and her headaches were not as frequent. She had almost a 4.0 the first year. Summer before sophomore was horrible for her health. A month before going back to college Riley had to get surgery for her neck - this operation was completely not epilepsy related. The surgery went well and the doctors thought she would be fine until after the operation when she relapsed and had a seizure again - before that she was almost 6 months without one. Again and again after the surgery she continued to have seizures - one was almost nine minutes long. She was hospitalized for 3 weeks because the seizures cause her left brain to swell up and she was having stroke like symptoms. Eventually things got better - but still no idea what actually caused the seizures and the brain swelling. Riley immediately packed her bags for her second year of college but because of her declining health she had to cut back on half her classes and is not able to work a job.
She is currently been seizure free for a couple weeks but she is still really bummed that she is unable to be in all her classes she was suppose to be. Epilepsy will be an ongoing battle and a barrier in Rileys education, but if Riley has the will and mindset to graduate and not make epilepsy her biggest enemy she will do it.