When I was growing up I was told that, if I was good and I tried really hard, I could reach any goal. So I dreamed big and decided that I was going to become an astronomer. Why astronomy? I’m not completely sure. Even today, I still go stargazing and love to hear about the latest astronomical discoveries.
I loved staring up at the stars, meteor showers, and the other astronomical phenomena that could be seen from the pollution-free skies around my parent’s house. In preparation for my new career, I tried to prepare myself by taking all the difficult classes in my high school. However, something was going to happen that would change my career plans.
When I was in my late teens, I had my first tonic-clonic seizure. I collapsed onto my parent’s bathroom floor and woke up in the emergency room in the hospital. It is very scary waking up and not remembering what happened to you.
My doctor tried to inform my mother of all the possibilities of what could be wrong with me from epilepsy to cancer. He ordered a cat scan and EEG to rule out epilepsy. Unfortunately, I failed the EEG test and haven’t been able to get a normal reading on an EEG ever since. The doctor said that I had epilepsy.
At first, I was in denial of ever having a problem. I would sometimes not take my medicine out of an adolescent defiance, but I had another seizure a few weeks later. This only confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis. During this first stage of defiance, I gradually began to accept that medicine was a necessity. My denial was trying to tell me that nothing was wrong. That this problem might go away if I just took the medicine as directed for a few years. I didn’t want to believe anything else.
According to an article called “Grieving the Loss of Healthy Functioning – When You First Learn about the Diagnosis of Epilepsy” on the website The Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Education in British Columbia by Gurmeet Singh, Ph.D, R. Psysch:
“Yet, getting the actual label of epilepsy is an event in itself. It seems to hit people like a hard rock. To many, it means a loss of dreams, a loss of normalcy in their family and/or a loss of healthy functioning. For others, it brings forth changes in their life style, changes in their quality of living and changes in their career options. Feeling a sense of grief is a very natural and normal reaction under these circumstances. Once diagnosed, individuals and their families must include epilepsy in their life’s journey. Grieving to come to terms with the diagnosis of epilepsy is an important part of living with it.”
It took me a long time before I was able to come to terms with my new condition and my new limitations.