Saturday, November 18, 2017

Epilepsy

It's been a while since I wrote. Work keeps me busy. My life keeps me busy. November is Epilepsy Awareness month, so here I am writing once again about Epilepsy.

I think that people think that it can't happen to them or they don't know anyone who is suffering, so why should they learn about it? Well, I once thought that too.

I was a Sophomore at a high school called Pine Ridge in Central Florida. I had shakes. I didn't know what caused it or when to expect them but it was embarrassing. I felt like a freak! And it was frustrating! Why couldn't I control my body?!

What was more frustrating was that no one believed me. I was a teenager so a part of my life was talking on the telephone. I remember I had the phone between my shoulder and my ear, a bag of chips in one hand, and the other was a bowl of cheese dip. Anyway, I had "shakes" and I dropped the phone. To make matters worse my mom walked by, "Why are you acting so retarded?" When I told her I couldn't help it she said, "Yeah, right!"

Another time I was in seminary, it was 6am, and I was sitting by my best friend when a "shake" happened. I was so embarrassed! My best friend let out a laugh, "What was that?" I felt so ashamed and wanted to hide and cry. I folded my arms and hid my face,  "I don't know, " I replied.

Shakes is the only word I could think to describe it. My arms or legs would tense up. I would drop things if I was holding something in my hands or my knees would buckle and I'd fall to the floor when a "shake" happened. I could also feel my chest get tight as I'd stop breathing and my eyes would roll back. These two things happened regardless if the "shakes" took place in my arms or legs.

Once I was drinking my Slim Fast on the way to seminary when the "shakes" struck. I dropped my drink multiple times, completely covering my pants in the chocolate drink. I was so embarrassed! I wrapped my sweater around my waist desperately trying to cover it up and my mom later took me home to change.

I was starting to notice a pattern. It only seemed to happen when I was exhausted, so when I had the "shakes" I would put my head down on my desk or lay down if it happened at home.

However, the big one happened during the F-CAT, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. I was 15 years old. I was called into the auditorium to take the F-CAT. I had a horrible headache and thought it was from being tired. Everyone was handed a packet and a number 2 pencil. We were all seated every other chair. After listening to the rules I grabbed my pencil, broke the seal on the packet, and started reading the questions. Then to my horror it happened! I had the "shakes" in my arms and I dropped my pencil! "It's happening now!" I thought to myself. I hate asking for help, but I bit my tongue, swallowed my pride, and asked the girl in front of me for my pencil. When she turned around I saw it was Christina, a blond girl from my German class. She was nice and passed my pencil to me with a smile. However, this happened at least two more times. I was getting frustrated and beyond embarrassed so I decided to take a break. I put my head on my arms and concentrated on my breathing. Maybe I can wait this out.

When I woke up there were adults in my face. They looked worried and were shouting at me, but I couldn't understand what they were saying. "Am I in trouble for falling asleep?" I looked around me and I saw that all my peers had been moved to the top left seats of the auditorium. "What's going on," I wondered. I turned my attention back to the teachers, "What's your name? What's your mom's name? What's your phone number?" They weren't difficult questions but my brain felt like it was in a fog. I couldn't think of the answers. I could feel myself panic as I realized I didn't know the answers either! I heard myself say, "I don't know," and a teacher scoffed "You don't know your mom's name!" I knew how absurd it was so I desperately tried to recall her face. Brown hair, brown eyes like me, "Her name is Terri!" I shouted, "Terri Fish and she works at Wal-Mart!" I quickly gave them the phone number, but still had no idea why they were asking me these questions or what was going on. It was about to take another turn as I saw paramedics rolling a stretcher towards me. My mind was laughing, "This is ridiculous! What is going on?" I thought to myself.

No more words. No more questions. The paramedics helped me onto the stretcher and rolled me towards the doors. I saw my peers looking at me and I felt so embarrassed! I waved to my friend, Dustin, but really wanted to pull the sheets over my head and disappear.

The paramedics wheeled me to the ambulance and loaded me into the back. "Do you want the siren on?" she asked. My headache was still there so I shook my head no. "You don't know what happened, do you?" she asked. I shook my head once more. "We're taking you to the hospital because you had just had a grandmal seizure." I wanted to cry. Nothing has ever happened to me before. I was 15 and my life was uneventful! or so I thought.

Over the next few days I stayed at the hospital being monitored. My mom stayed with me and my dad and friends would visit me after work or school. Jim said, "There are better ways to get out of testing!" He always could make me laugh.

The doctors said seizures are common amongst teenagers because they're brought on by stress and lack of sleep. I knew I suffered from both of these things. The doctor said it was a one time occurrence so he didn't give me any medication.

A German exchange student, Ninja, (pronounced Nin-ya) came to stay with us but my "shakes" were returning. I had to leave school early and my second seizure took place days later in my parents bed. I was getting ready for school when I started having "shakes" in my arms. I went to tell my mom so she told me to go to bed and when I turned to go to my room my knees buckled. My mom had to help me to her bed and she told my dad, who was in bed, to look after me.

I woke up in the hospital. My mom said I called out, "Oh, no!" which got my dad's attention and he called my mom to the bedroom. My mom said my muscles tensed and seized uncontrollably. She said my lips turned purple from not breathing, I was foaming at the mouth from not swallowing, and she timed that it lasted for three minutes.

I had to undergo a sleep study, a MRI, and an EKG. Then I was finally diagnosed with Epilepsy. They put me on Dilantin. It controlled my seizures but was sun sensitive so I broke out in hives after spending the day at the Springs with my friends. So then I was put on Depakote. I would remain on this for the rest of my high school career. However, I gained a bunch of weight and was beyond lethargic from it.

After high school I was put on Neurontin. My body grew accustomed to it and I had another seizure. One after another, as a matter of fact. I was at a concert and called my mom to come pick me up. I had one in the car on the way home and another in the hospital.

Over the years I've had many seizures. Usually in public places. Always embarrassing and frustrating! My mom would always wake me up for high school with a pill and a glass of water. When I would forget to take my medicine at night she'd get understandably angry because she's worried about my health and well being! But I would forget because I was healthy for the first 15 years of my life. Now 18 years later I've grown accustomed to being sick. I try to make sure I go to bed at a decent time and make sure I always take my pills. Very rarely do I forget them. It is a part of my life. They may as well be another appendage. Epilepsy is a part of who I am. It doesn't define me, but it has become a part of me. I pray one day I won't be afflicted by it anymore. Because of it I am always exhausted, I can be forgetful, I am prone to migraines, and at times I still feel like my mind is in a fog. However, I refuse to let it win! I have a life I love! A job I love and two beautiful boys!

Before you judge me or anyone else struggling with Epilepsy realize we are doing our best and with medication, hopefully, we can become successful adults. I am one of the lucky few whose seizures are being controlled by epilepsy medication. The one that we found works for me is Keppra.

Please look up Epilepsy and learn what you can about it. You never know you may know someone who is afflicted with this neurological disorder but is too afraid of being judged to say anything.

Once upon a time I thought I was invincible. Then I was diagnosed with Epilepsy and my life was forever changed by my diagnosis.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

For Our Grandpa

I like to think I am a good writer but when it comes to writing to you... or what I would like to say to you... I find that words fail me. Like in Boston Legal when Alan Shore is stressed and talks gibberish in the episode Word Salad Days.  Anyway, Grandpa, I love you and I miss you. There is no doubt in my mind that it was you and Grandma who shaped my husband into who he is today. I know that you're both proud of him and I am so grateful for that. Thank you for being there for my hubby and for helping in raising him.

When I first met you I didn't know that you were Rob's stepdad. You didn't treat him any differently from your other kids. And it was the same with Kevin and I. You immediately took us into your hearts and treated us like family. Whenever Jim and I needed help you never complained you just showed up. You always showed up.

I know we were all hoping that you'd beat cancer. That you'd still be with us now. It was Kevin who had the idea to make you a card. I thought we were just going to do one so I started on it. Not knowing that Kevin made his own and his was better as it was from the heart.

I love you. I remember coming home from work, the look on Jim's face when he told me the news 💔 Few things you never forget and I know that moment will be one.

I think you held on to prepare Grandma. She's doing okay. As good as can be expected. I know you'll watch over her and comfort her the best you can. I know she'll be all right but we'll always miss you Grandpa. You were one of a kind.

I think you would've been pleased with the service as well as the family and friends who came to share memories and celebrate your life. We love you and we miss you! Until we see you again.

~Jim, Heather, Kevin, and James

Pics from the Memorial

James and I 💖

Kevin and Alani

My boys and I 💖

Jim with James

Kevin and Jim 💖

Alani, Bobby, Kevin, and Jim

Rob and Anna with Jim and Bobby

Grandma Kay and Kevin
You will forever be missed Grandpa 💔 We'll always miss hearing your stories from the military, playing card games with you, laughing with you as you told jokes or showed off your quick wit 💖 We'll miss your big heart and you telling us about cars. We'll miss your hugs, your voice, and your very being 💔

Thank you for letting me into your family and loving me as one of your own. You have impacted all of our lives so much! 💖 I hope wherever you are that you know you are loved and were loved. You have made so many lives better by just being you, so again I say thank you and I love you. Until we meet again, Grandpa 💖

Friday, September 8, 2017

Happy 7th Anniversary 💖

My hubby and I just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on the 4th. I love my hubby 💖 He puts up with me, hugs me through my meltdowns, and loves and provides for our sons. He always puts our families needs above his own 💖 Our boys and I are so lucky to have him. So happy Anniversary, hubby 💖 May we have many more 🥂🎉

Here's a video I made for him 💖


Thursday, July 27, 2017

For Grandpa

For you, Grandpa 💖



My father-in-law has lost his hard fought  battle with cancer. Wayne Adams was a courageous man who never gave up.  He came into my life in 1980 and never treated me as anything less than a daughter.  He was the dad I never had. He will be missed more than I can say.

  I love you, may you rest in peace.
            WAYNE ADAMS
June 5, 1938 to July 20, 2017.   - Anna Panko

June 5th 1938-july 20th 2017
You lived a long exciting life, Even though you're passing was not unexpected, It was still a great loss to this family. You were an amazing man and we love you terribly, we will forever think of you and hold you in our heart, I'm so sorry I did not say goodbye in person .... but this is my goodbye I will miss you so much  and will forever keep you in my heart ❤   - Alani Serrano

Lost my Hero today,
Rest In Peace.

OOORAH – It’s a Marine Thang!” - Robert Panko

Miss you, Grandpa. I woke up with this song in my head (Life Ain't Always Beautiful). I didn't get to build as many memories with you as I would've liked... but I remember first meeting you. You accepted Kevin and I into your family right away. You loved cars and you loved helping people. You helped out our family on numerous occasions. I loved going to your house and playing cards all while laughing and sharing stories. I loved swimming in your pool with my boys. I loved your quick wit and I miss your jokes. I'm sad that James won't remember you, I'm sad that Kevin won't have as many memories or get to hear your stories. I love you, Grandpa. You helped mold my husband into who he is. He has your quick wit and loves to help people too. You are a beautiful person who left us too soon, in my opinion. 💔  - Heather Panko


RIP, Grandpa

I've been slacking with writing lately. I've made some ambiguous posts on Twitter and I posted two songs on Facebook... if I texted you or if you're on Facebook then you know Jim's grandpa passed on 7/20. I came home from work and found Jim on our bed. He gave me the news.

Grandpa lost his battle to cancer. I've been listening to Taylor Swift's song Ronan, Gary Allan's Life Ain't Always Beautiful, and The Beatles' song In My Life. It helps. I just put them on repeat. To me they all speak of someone who is loved and who has died.

Grandpa was a good man. He always liked to help people, he spoke his mind, he was funny and witty, and he loved family above all else. He was a great man, a wonderful man. He accepted Kevin and I into the family right away. Helped us with our first and second homes. He and Grandma had us over to their house to go swimming, to play cards, to hang out, go out to eat, and for holidays.

He has done so much for our family and yet I can't believe he's really gone. The next time we see Grandma it will be without Grandpa. Breaks my heart. James will never remember him and Kevin won't have as many memories or stories to tell of Grandpa as I do. It's a bitter pill to swallow when you lose someone you love. You must learn to carry on without them as the world continues to turn. I hate death. I hate cancer. They always claim the people I love too soon. 💔💔💔💔

Monday, June 26, 2017

Happy Birthday, Hubby 🎂💖

Yesterday was my hubby's birthday. We didn't do anything special because we celebrated his birthday on Saturday. We went to Longhorn Steakhouse and then came back home for cake and ice cream. I made him a chocolate cake with homemade icing because that's his favorite. From what I could tell, he loved it 💖

Jim goes above and beyond for our family. Making sure we have everything that we need and that our needs are met. He is positively wonderful! He is my best friend, my rock! Our boys and I are so blessed to have him in our lives 💖

Having dinner at Longhorn

Opening presents

Singing to the birthday boy

He wanted to blow the candles out

So then we let him 💖
My hubby takes such good care of us. For that I will always be eternally grateful. I love you so very much, hubby. Happy Birthday 💖🎂

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Happy Birthday, Kennedy 🎂

She's one of my favorite people. She's beautiful outside as well as on the inside. She loves her family, learning, kids, books, music, and dancing. She's confident in herself and her abilities. She tries to comfort those around her and knows what to say to her loved ones to make them smile.

She is the oldest grandchild on our family's side and the first born girl on both sides. She is a ray of sunshine wherever she goes. She likes challenges, she's outgoing, she's funny, she's talented, and motivated. Whatever she puts her mind to she conquers and I'm just so glad that she's family.

I love you, Kennedy! I hope this day and this year is everything that you want it to be! You're a remarkable young lady and I am so honored to be your aunt! I miss you so very much and am sad that we can't be there for your birthday, but I hope you know that you are loved and we're thinking of you today!

Pictures from the past few years:
 Kennedy (12 yrs) and James (11 mos)

 After her dance recitals

Before her first homecoming

When she turned 15

Celebrating Kalib's birthday

Celebrating Oliver's 12th birthday

New year's eve 2016

Went to St. Augustine

Kennedy and Milo

She got her braces off

Celebrating her 16th birthday