“it’s like a thunderstorm in your brain”

June 11, 2024

As a child, I was one of the playful and outgoing of the group. In grade 2, I had my very first tonic-clonic seizure at home while playing a game on the computer with my twin sister, Caroline. We didn’t know what was happening so Caroline called up our older brother, Derek and then he proceeded to call our neighbors who are both a paramedic and a nurse. Once my parents got home our neighbor advised my parents to go get checked out.

After a CT scan, bloodwork, and many hours of waiting the response we received was they didn’t see anything, but I should not play on the computer or watch TV and was free to go. Another seizure happened, this time at school and 911 was called. My parents were on their way to school. The paramedics advised that we go get checked again, so we did. This time they wanted to keep me in the hospital for a while to run further tests. These tests included a Lumbar Puncture, MRI, and an EEG. After many days in the hospital, I was released with the diagnosis of epilepsy.

We didn’t know anything about epilepsy and seizures and those are some scary words for a kid, so my family and I found ways to explain it to my classmates, such as “it’s like a thunderstorm in your brain”. We also didn’t use the word seizure rather we used “episode”. We had so many great doctors who provided us with so many useful resources including information on what was then known as Epilepsy Halton Peel Hamilton and now known as Epilepsy South Central Ontario. Sunny Days Camp was the first service we used, and it was a game changing program for me, because I was able to be a kid in a safe environment.

I am a counselor at Sunny Days, and I love seeing how much they’ve grown each year. I also have been fortunate to find the Youth Empowerment Program and have made some great relationships with other youth.

Going back to school after being in a hospital was hard to explain to my friends, but as we all grew older it became a little bit easier until grade 7 when the bullying got really concerning.

We then finally considered the Epilepsy Classroom. This classroom gave me so much freedom to just be me and feel safe even if I did have a seizure. I have so much respect for all the teachers that taught me different skills and worked with me 1- on-1 and allowed me to be successful.

Highschool was challenging but most of my teachers were very supportive, and I know I could go to them if I needed assistance or just needed to talk. After high school I decided to go to school and get my diploma in Child and Youth Care and graduated in 2020. After taking a small break, I then went on to do my Honors Degree in Child and Youth Care and have graduated from that as well.

With the support of my professors, I have accomplished so much while in school, including doing a Community Epilepsy Awareness Event, become a class leader and meet with the Sr. Dean and bring positive things and negative concerns in hopes that they can help fix it. Additionally, I also was asked to share some of my story at a Showcase with one of my professors, in front of several Associate Deans and the Humber Community.

With the right support and accommodations, I accomplished more than I ever thought I would, and I am glad I was able to prove those who didn’t believe I could do great things, wrong. I also owe so much thanks to my parents and family for being so supportive during this rollercoaster ride and how they continue to be by my side no matter the situation.

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