Putting the boot to epilepsy
Don’t let epilepsy own you. Stay strong; fight back with a positive attitude and help from your doctor. Research is fueling hope and making it possible for more of us who live with epilepsy to live seizure free lives. I’m proof.
My seizures began when only 18 months old. My mom came to my room around midnight to check on me. I was limp and blue in the face and lips. She screamed for my dad who called 911.
I continued to experience febrile (fever) seizures until I was at the age of six. They would last around one minute and while it went on I would lie on the floor, swerve around, and start singing.
I have always loved sports and my parents encouraged me to participate like the other kids. By age 13, the overlapping schedules of my soccer and hockey teams forced me to make a choice. So, I chose soccer. I played striker. My height was an advantage, so every team I played for looked for opportunities to give me header chances - goal kicks, corner kicks, throw in’s, anything.
There were warning signs that I missed
Around this time, I began to have weird, new feelings. It always began with cold feet, a sick uprising in my stomach, and ended with a hot flash. I assumed it was exhaustion from playing high-level sport. So, I didn’t tell anyone. Then one day, I was getting ready for school when I suddenly dropped to the floor and woke up beside the toilet. I still didn’t say or think anything of it. I just got back up and went off to school.
These episodes continued throughout my teens. I had another memorable “fainting spell” when I was 19. While helping my brother with his homework, I began to feel woozy. I put my head down on the kitchen table and again woke up on the floor.
My fainting spells were really seizures
While playing soccer at university, I received what I had thought was my first concussion, and had a EEG done by a concussion specialist. The results identified 30-40 mini-seizures. This is when I realized that I had been having seizures for years.
Concussions reoccurred frequently, after the first one. So, in the third year of university I was compelled to give up soccer. I was aware of receiving six concussions. The specialists that I consulted were convinced that there had been more.
“Cam, I think something’s wrong”.
Though I was taking seizure medication, it didn’t stop my “feinting seizures” from occurring. One day in class, I felt one coming on. I placed my elbow on the desk. My hand was shaking and dripping sweat and I said, to my friend “Cam, I think something’s wrong”. I woke up in an ambulance, having suffered a grand mal seizure.
An MRI revealed four cm of scar tissue growth on my left temporal lobe. The specialist diagnosed me with Mesial Temporal Sclerosis, and I spent 12 days in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit in Hamilton, while they monitored my seizures.
“I’ve been seizure free since my surgery in February!”
Earlier this year, I had surgery that removed the scar tissue from my left temporal lobe. I still take medication, but since my surgery, I’ve been seizure free. My last seizure was on February 13th, while I was being driven to the hospital in London to have the surgery.
I am a positive person and I’m not embarrassed about having epilepsy. In a way, I feel the seizures have made me stronger. I’ve not been able to drive for six years; my favorite sport has been taken away from me; my dream of a career as a paramedic has- at least temporarily- been derailed. But now, I’m seizure free and I look forward to a bright future.