Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

So as this year comes to a close I can't help but be grateful for my many blessings. The year started out with much sadness as my grandpa, Big Daddy died. However, a lot of babies were born this year into our family and I know he loved all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren so that would've made him very happy. I believe that there is more to this life, that we go somewhere after we die, and I believe that Big Daddy got to meet his great-grandchildren there before they came to us.

So what else is new with us? James is growing like a weed! Today he is 20 months old! My how time flies! He loves cars, he loves "Mater's Tall Tales", and he is a bit of a dare devil. It's amazing he's made it to 20 months with no stitches! He has no fear! He loves climbing, running, spinning himself in circles, loves playing with the big kids, and loves books! He's also very stubborn. He only says words when he wants to. He can say: apple, up, Luna, Bubba (Kevin's nickname), row, cluck, wake up, get up, and shut up. His favorite word is "no". I'm also happy to report that he's a very healthy little boy. ❤

Kevin is coming to grips of going to school every day. He still loves Science. When the book fair was at his school he picked out a big $20 science book. I love that he loves Science. His goal for now is to get a job related to science when he grows up. He still loves Pok√©mon, video games, and penguins. He also continues to get taller and taller every day. Right now he is up to my chin and he wears a size 5 shoe, which my feet can fit into. He still sees a therapist every two weeks to help with Aspergers. He is getting a lot better at communicating his feelings and is becoming more confident with who he is. ❤

Jim has been working at United Fire for four years now. At the beginning of December Jim and I got to go to a Hockey game in Tampa to celebrate United Fire's 15th Anniversary. The company paid for our tickets, had food and drinks for us, and a hotel room. We're really glad that Jim has found this company! And they appreciate his work as much as Jim loves his job. ❤

As for me, as you might've read from my last blog, I'm doing much better. I am off of Zoloft and doing awesome! I have more energy, no suicidal or homicidal thoughts, and I'm feeling like my old self again. I'm still a stay at home mom because I love spending time with James and Kevin whenever I can. ❤

We did have a scare this year though. My mom had to take my dad to the ER because he was experiencing chest pain. Luckily it wasn't anything serious because he was only hospitalized for a few days. He was put on a liquid diet while he was there and lost weight. The doctor said he needs a no salt diet, no sweets, and needs to exercise more. If he gains three pounds in a week he has to go back as that means he's retaining water again. So far he hasn't had to go back and is losing weight from eating healthier. ❤

When he was in the hospital only I went to visit him. Jim stayed home with the boys. Kevin hugged me when I got back and so I told him Grandpa was doing great and should be released from the hospital soon. Kevin hugged me tighter and said, "I don't want your dad to die." That comment almost sent me to tears but I assured him that Grandpa would be okay. When my dad was released from the hospital Kevin asked his teacher if she thought his Grandpa would be okay. She reassured him that if the doctors released my dad then that means he'll be okay. Then the following weekend we went to my parents house and Kevin walked into my parents bedroom where I was talking to my mom and my dad was relaxing on the bed and Kevin said, "Are you feeling better Grandpa?" My dad said he was feeling lots better. Kevin smiled, "Good". Just that little conversation made my eyes tear up. To know that Kevin was so concerned that he brought it up to his teacher and to my dad ❤ Just pulls on my heart strings to have such a kind and sensitive boy ❤

Anyway, I wanted to share pictures of the new babies that we welcomed into our family this year as well as wish our family, our friends, and everyone reading this a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Heath and Bekah welcomed Adam
 into the world on Feb. 7

Ben and Lizz welcomed baby Kai on March 18

Colt and Katie welcomed baby Conner on July 25

And the newest baby to make
 her way into the world is Lilybell,
born on Dec. 20 to Jeremy and Hannah
 Congratulations to all my cousins for their newest additions this year;

Fish cousins: Kevin 9, Kennedy 13, Oliver 10,
Hayley 8, baby James 19 months, and Kalib 9

Kevin 9 years and James 19 months old

And to all our family and friends, as well as those reading this blog, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I Am Surving Postpartum Depression and So Can You!

Getting pregnant with James was hard enough. Took us 10 months of trying on fertility drugs. Then when we were finally pregnant I was afraid of having a miscarriage... But everything went well. I attended college, got good grades, and toward the end I talked with my teachers so that I could take my finals over the summer as James was deemed too big for a natural birth and so I was scheduled to have a c-section during the week my finals were to take place.

Everything seemed to be going perfectly... Then when our son was born I wasn't able to hold him because he had fluid in his lungs. It's such a horrible feeling to hold your baby in your body for nine months then not be able to see him or hold him. After ten hours the doctors finally brought baby James to me for Kangaroo Care, but only for fifteen minutes. It was such a frustrating time... Then the next day we were told James would have to go to a different hospital. I was so broken hearted. Still I told Jim to ride in the ambulance with James and keep his eyes on him at all times. My mother waited with me to be discharged from the hospital then drove me to Orlando to be with my baby.

Once there we learned that baby James was jaundiced, he had a heart murmur, and his breathing was still too rapid. Jim got us a room at the Ronald McDonald's House around the corner. It was the longest three days of our lives. We would wake, get a ride to the hospital, and spend all day with James in the NICU. We only left his side to eat and sleep.

Once home I was afraid to leave his side. Always wanted to make sure he was still breathing. Then slowly I felt out of control. It started with crying. Endless crying because I didn't feel good enough. I didn't feel strong enough to be a mother. Then the intrusive thoughts started. They were horrible and constant. From  poisoning to cutting. Ridiculous things I knew I would never act on but for some reason they stuck around and got worse. I was afraid to sleep... Afraid that another personality would take over and act on the thoughts going through my head. I thought I could ignore it. I only went in the kitchen to make bottles. Afraid I'd hurt myself or others so I hid scissors and my husband's box cutter from my sight.

From there it got progressively worse. The lights seemed too bright and I constantly felt like I was dreaming; I was constantly questioning what was reality.  My whole body was numb so how could I trust that I was awake? So I started telling myself "My name is Heather Panko, I am married to my best friend, we have two adorable sons and we live with my tween and two cats." Every day I was smothered with anxiety and more intrusive thoughts. If I was awake I was crying. I was avoiding my sons, which just made my anxiety worse. I didn't trust myself driving, being alone, or trust myself with my boys. Some days I didn't want to leave my bed or the couch. Nothing seemed to help. Jim wasn't getting enough sleep either. He watched over me as I slept and would wake up constantly to make sure I was still in bed. So I called a  psychiatrist but they wouldn't be able to see me until after the weekend. I didn't think I could wait so I talked to my cousin and Jim about me checking myself into the Psych ward at the Deland hospital. Jim was very upset. He has always been able to help me and talk me down. However, this was different. No words helped. Every day I thought of running away to save my family from me. I thought that they would be better off without me.

Once at the hospital and on the psych floor I felt more relieved. I was started on paxil and seroquel. The first day was still spent crying. I'm a very shy person and didn't like that I couldn't talk to nor see my family whenever I wanted. A lot of the time I just wanted to go back home.

When I met the psychiatrist he didn't say much to me. It was mostly me rambling on about my symptoms. At the end of it I told him I felt like I was going crazy and asked him if I would ever feel normal again. He never looked up from my chart and was writing something down continuously. When he spoke to me he asked what prescriptions I was on and what had I been on in the past. I told him that I only have been on anti-seizure medications, never anti-depressants.

I met with him one more time during my stay. But it pretty much went the same way as above. This time, however, we sat in a small office. The same place I was checked into and where the nurses took my belongings to put them into a locker. This time he was typing something into the computer and I could see my chart. At the top in black ink he had diagnosed me as being bipolar. That diagnosis stuck with me the rest of my visit because it didn't seem right. I've seen bipolar! I grew up with bipolar! There was no way that I was bipolar! I talked to my husband and cousin during visiting hours and they both agreed that I wasn't bipolar. I even talked amongst  my peers and therapist, different therapist, during group and they agreed that based on my symptoms it sounded like postpartum depression. I felt so relieved to have people listen to me and reassure me that it was postpartum depression. Some of the other women there have also suffered from it and reassured me that things would get better. However, I still had the intrusive thoughts but now that I was on medication and sleeping through the night they weren't as loud.

When I was released from the hospital I was still on paxil, seroquel, and klonopin (for anxiety). Paxil seemed to help the most. I was only to take klonopin as needed, which in the beginning was twice a day. Seroquel I took at night but as my baby didn't sleep through the night and seroquel made me too tired to hear him, I quit taking seroquel. Eventually it got to the point where I was taking one klonopin a day and then none a day. My anxiety stopped.

I was now going to therapy once a week. I told him about my diagnosis and that I didn't think it was right. He asked me what kind of things made me upset and so I told him. One of the things that upset me the most was having my day planned out and then an unexpected incident, such as my car breaking down, happening so that I would miss work and would need a ride. I don't like being dependent upon others. Also, I told him that I had looked up a Postpartum site on Facebook. I had become a member and a lot of the other mothers were sharing the same feelings and fears that I had! As my therapist and I talked about my symptoms and experiences he agreed that I had postpartum depression. He also noted that I was suffering from PTSD because of happenings during my childhood.

Now it's seventeen months later and I'm feeling more like my old self! There's no anxiety about harming my children or myself. There's no intrusive thoughts and I've been off of Zoloft for two weeks! Yesterday was the first day I had the energy to do a workout routine and these past few weeks have been the first few that I have been able to wake up before my alarm went off to take my oldest son to school.

It has been a long and exhausting journey but I finally feel as though it's coming to an end. So to the people, the group, the other women sharing their stories, my hubby, my cousin, my family thank you! Without any of you I don't think I would have made it!

Postpartum depression is scary! It's real! You're constantly on guard as you fear your biggest fears coming true: hurting your child, hurting yourself, not feeling good enough, and never being you again. I had constant fears of being bipolar or schizophrenic as I thought I would never be normal again. But it does get better. If you're reading this and you're struggling please hang in there because it does get better! Take it a day at a time, or if you felt like I did and it seemed unlikely that you could, then take it minute by minute, or hour by hour. In the beginning I couldn't think of tomorrow so I grasped on to minutes.

I felt like life was going by too fast, there was too much to get done... The chores that needed to be done, just the thought of them exhausted me. I didn't trust myself driving or being alone with my kids. A lot of the time my cousin was doing the driving and my hubby would come home from a full day's work and help with chores, homework, and dinner because I never left the couch. I hated feeling so useless but my cousin pointed out that one day I made it through and I managed to laugh. She reminded me that even a small accomplishment was still an accomplishment and though I didn't see it I was getting better. She often had to remind me that I was a good mother because I only saw the negative. I only saw the mother that never left the couch. Not the mother who cuddled with her baby, made him smile and laugh, or the mother who was taking care of her son and never left his side.

However, now I feel back to normal and I know that I am a great mom, not perfect, but pretty great. I try to stay on top of the laundry, the dishes, helping my oldest with homework, and making dinner. I don't feel like a failure as a mother and I know that I never would, never will hurt my children for they are my everything, my greatest blessings. So again thank you to everyone who helped me along my road to recovery <3 And seriously if you have the same feelings that I experienced or are struggling hold on because as dark as it is right now it will get so much brighter!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Myths and First Aid For Epilepsy and Seizures

     The common myths of epilepsy that I've heard are: 1. Place something in their mouth so the person seizing won't bite off their tongue and or choke on it.

     The 2nd one I heard while I was in my freshman year in college. I was taking a Speech class and had to teach the classroom something for five minutes. Naturally I chose epilepsy. I spoke of my seizure experiences and told how my mom witnessed my second one. When I told them how my mother said I didn't breathe for three minutes the teacher asked, "Doesn't that mean you were dead?"

     So the 1st one: do people who are seizing bite off their tongue, swallow it, and choke on it? No. More than likely they'll bite their tongue but they won't bite it off. Also, they don't swallow while they're seizing so, no they won't swallow their tongue.

     2nd are we alive? Yes. While we may not be breathing our hearts are still beating, so we still have a pulse. Also, our brains are alive so obviously people seizing are still alive.

     Another myth is that you need to call 911 after every seizure. No, only if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes or if they are having seizures continuously. Also, you'll need to call 911 if the person seizing does not have a history of having seizures. If someone falls and/or gets injured before or after having a seizure please stay with him/her and call 911.

     Seizures are serious and are scary. They do cause damage to brain cells. Because we don't breathe during seizures our brains are being starved of oxygen, which of course, is dangerous for pregnant women too. If the woman seizing is pregnant you'll need to call 911. She could have fallen and injured her abdomen, or she might've gotten hurt while she was seizing.

     When you see someone seizing:
 1. remain calm. They're not freaks, they're not possessed. It's something that he/she can't help because let's be honest, who wants to have a seizure?

     2. Lay him/her on their side. Because people seizing don't swallow, their spit is accumulating in their mouth and when he does stop seizing he'll need to swallow and he won't want to choke on his spit. Also, if he's on his side he's less likely to hit his head on the ground or something else.

     3. Loosen his clothes if you need to. (Ties or button up shirts/jackets. Things that could be constricting his airway).

     4. Time the seizure. A normal seizure will last under five minutes. If it's longer call 911.

     5. Stay with him. Be calm. Be patient. A person coming out of a seizure will be confused and disoriented. Be reassuring. Be kind.

     I know a few people will want to try and stop someone from seizing so you might try to hold them down. Please don't. You or the person seizing could get hurt in the process.

     There is no cure for epilepsy. Unfortunately anti seizure medications don't work for everyone. People die every year from seizing in a bathtub or a pool where they drown. People lose consciousness and have a seizure while driving or get seriously injured on the fall down as they lose consciousness. I'll say it again it's not fun living with epilepsy. But you can make it easier for people like me who are living with epilepsy by educating yourself about this condition and offering support to those affected by epilepsy. Always be kind and don't judge what you don't understand.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Picture Day!

     So in the spirit of the holidays Jim and I decided to have the boys' pictures taken. I found this girl's Portrait Page on Facebook and she did an amazing job!

     The boys were difficult, of course, but the pictures came out great anyway! James missed his nap so he was cranky. And because James was cranky Kevin was getting annoyed. We all know that when kids are upset they don't listen very well.

     But regardless of the boys doing their own thing Jamie knows a great shot when she sees one.  So if you haven't heard of her and you live in Florida look up Jamie Dorsey. Here's our boys:

     In case you wondered Jim wasn't planning on being a part of the pictures. He was throwing James up in the air and James loved it, as you can see.

     Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving. May your hearts and bellies be full. And may you always remember your blessings and remain grateful.


The Panko Family

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Loved Ones - Living With Epilepsy

     A couple of months ago I wrote my story, my epilepsy experience, for a school survey. One of the questions asked how our significant others or parents deal with this. Call me selfish but before that I haven't thought about what it was like for my parents when I lived at home, or my husband whom I live with now...

     My mom used to wake me up every day for high school. She'd come in my room with my pills in one hand and a drink of water in the other. Every night before I went to bed she would ask me if I took my medicine and if I didn't I got scolded. "How hard is it to remember to take your medicine?! Do you have a death wish?!" At the time I saw her as a nagging mother but now that I'm older I see that she was worried and concerned.

     My mom also picked me up from school when I was having partial seizures. One time it was around lunch time and I was trying to eat my lunch in the car. Every time I picked up the food to take a bite my arms would have tremors and I'd drop the food back onto my lap. I remember my mom saying, "Quit that! It's freaking me out!". I knew she was only half joking because she knew I couldn't help it, but after that remark I just laid the seat back and tried to sleep.

     I was dating Jim when I had my last seizure. Kevin and I were living in an apartment with him in Deland. I had lost my insurance and couldn't afford my medication. I tried to avoid my triggers: stress, computers, sleep deprivation... But I needed my medicine. I called my mom to tell her I felt a seizure coming on and I was worried because I was home alone with Kevin. She said she heard the phone drop and called out for me, but when I didn't answer she hung up and dialed 911.

     I remember hearing a knock at the door so I opened it. Men (it was the paramedics) came in and started talking to me and asking me questions but I couldn't understand any of it. They took Kevin and I to the hospital in the ambulance. Kevin was brave, not freaked out, and curious about what was going on.

     My mom called Jim and he met us at the hospital. The doctors gave me my medicine through an I.V and once they were pleased with my levels I was discharged. They also gave me a prescription so I could buy my medicine. As I didn't have a job my mom was going to pay for it but Jim held up a hand to her then handed his card to the pharmacy, "I'll pay for it," he said.  He told me later that he'd always find a way to pay for my medicine. Whether he has to sell his video game systems, video games, or our t.v because all those things can be replaced. I, however, cannot be replaced.

     I have not had a seizure since that day and Jim has kept his promise. He keeps looking after me just as my mother did when I lived with her. He'll open the medicine cabinet and if I'm getting low he'll tell me to call the doctor or call my prescription into the pharmacy. He too asks me if I took my medicine in the morning and at night. What I saw as annoying growing up I now see the love and concern behind it.

     Growing up I thought that epilepsy was only hard on me. After all it's my life that changed, right? No. My parents had a seemingly healthy daughter for fifteen years then their world was turned upside down also. Like me they worried where my next seizure would take place. I have no doubt that they still worry but hopefully my thoughtful, caring husband has put their minds at ease.

     Some days he worries too much. It's illogical since I'm on my medication and haven't had a seizure since 2008, but fear of losing a loved one can cause a loss of rational thinking. He used to call me five times a day and if I didn't answer every call he'd come home in a panic. Now I try to text him through out the day or call him first so he knows I'm okay.

     So what I gather from watching my husband and my parents worry about me is that loving someone with epilepsy is just as scary for them as it is for me. I worry that one day my meds won't be enough, that maybe I'll have a seizure while driving, or in the shower... Things my husband, reassures me, that he's thought about and worries about too.

     As a mother of two handsome boys, now I worry about my sons inheriting this disorder. However, it is highly unlikely. I know I wouldn't love them any less. It would just make me worry about them even more.

     Epilepsy. It changes the life of not only those who are diagnosed, but everyone around you too. So take heed: living and loving someone with epilepsy is not for the faint hearted.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Seizures - Epilepsy Awareness part 2

     A grand mal seizure is when a person loses consciousness and their whole body starts jerking uncontrollably.  Now you you can see why this is so dangerous. People with epilepsy have no way to stop it and no telling when the next one will occur.

     My second seizure happened at home in my parents bed.  I was getting ready for school when I started having tremors in my arms.  I went to the kitchen to tell my mom and she told me to go back to bed.  As I turned to leave my legs gave out from beneath me so my mom walked me to her bed where my dad was sleeping. Before she left she woke up my dad and told him to watch me.  Once again I had a bad headache so I closed my eyes to go to sleep.  That's all I remember.

     My dad said he was on the verge of falling back asleep when he heard me call out "not again". He rolled over to me and I started seizing. He then called for my mom. She timed it, saying it was under three minutes. She said I stopped breathing, my lips were blue, I was shaking, and I was foaming at the mouth. She said when I stopped I didn't open my eyes for five minutes. She then called out my name and tried to talk to me but I had a blank stare on my face and didn't respond until after fifteen minutes.

     Until the doctors got my medication and dosage right I continued to have partial seizures at school. I would be in Chorus trying to hold our music when I would have tremors in my arms and I'd throw the paper every which way. Then I'd get a pass to the nurse's office where I'd call my mom to come get me. Another time I was in Health class. We were walking down the hallway to our classroom when my legs gave out from beneath me. My friend, Jon Lewis, walked with me to the nurse's office and stayed by my side until my mom came.

     It never got any easier. They're always embarrassing and for a moment you wonder what happened. After I would have tremors in my arms I'd have a pins and needles sensation coursing through my arms.

     My grand mal seizures often took place in public places because I'm stubborn and don't want epilepsy to control my life. Fortunately they never occurred while I was driving or on the stairs. I've had one at Pizza Hut, Pine Ridge High School, my work (Convergys), and at the airport.  My friend said she looked up to me because if she had Epilepsy she'd be too embarrassed and afraid to leave the house. My response to that was that my fear was being alone while having a seizure. At least in public there's people around to help.

     However, now I'm lucky enough to be seizure free since December 2008!  My neurologist is keeping me on Keppra as it works for me and there's no bad side effects! As there is no cure for epilepsy I'm glad that western medicine has come this far! I only hope that their medicines and knowledge of epilepsy keeps evolving so that maybe one day there will be a cure for epilepsy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Epilepsy Awareness

     Epilepsy was something I didn't even know existed until in early 2000 I was diagnosed with it.  There were no warning signs before hand and no family history of it amongst my immediate family.

     When I was diagnosed I was 15.  My first grand mal seizure happened at Pine Ridge High School in the auditorium during the F-CAT, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.  I only remember being called into the auditorium to take the test, I was tired, and had a headache. Within moments of starting my test my arms had "shakes".  I was still conscious and had no idea why I couldn't hold my arms steady or make them stop. Later I would find out "shakes" are referred to as tremors, small or partial seizures.  Whenever they happened I would immediately feel embarrassed, ashamed, and frustrated.  Why couldn't I control my body?  And why is this happening now when I'm taking an exam in a room filled with my peers and friends?  But I tried to continue taking my test. I politely asked the girl in front of me to pass back my pencil. However, this went on for quite sometime before I finally got so frustrated that I gave up. I laid my head on the desk and I passed out.

     The girl in front of me I knew from German class. She was very smart and nice but we hung out in different cliques. Anyway, when I came back to school she informed me that it was her who got the administrator's attention when I started seizing. Apparently when I started convulsing I hit her in the back of the head, she was going to retaliate, but stopped when she saw that I was having a seizure. She ran and got the teachers.

     I remember opening my eyes, my test gone, and five or so adults screaming questions at me. They all were simple questions "what's your mom's name?", "where does your mom work?", "what's your home phone number?". But I had temporary amnesia. I remembered going to take the test and I thought I fell asleep, was I in trouble for sleeping during the test? Then I remember scanning the room and all my peers and friends were moved to the upper left hand side of the auditorium, the adults barking questions at me and I were in the lower right section. What happened?  Still their questions continued but they were talking fast, too fast, and shouting. What did I do? I began repeating their questions "what's my mother's name? I don't know". A teacher repeated as if it was the most outrageous thing he had ever heard, "You don't know your mother's name?"  Then I realized it was outrageous. I closed my eyes and their questions stopped. Suddenly I remembered and her name flowed out, "Terri. My mother's name is Terri and she works at Wal-Mart".  Slowly I came out of the fog and answered their questions.

     Just as I finished their questions paramedics came in rolling a Gurnee. I was helped onto it, strapped down, and wheeled out of the auditorium to the front of the school where an ambulance was waiting. I was so embarrassed and still had no idea why I was being picked up by an ambulance. The paramedic riding in the back with me finally said, "You don't know what happened do you?" I shook my head no and she said, "You just had a grand mal seizure so we're taking you to the hospital. We called your parents and they are on their way to meet us there." I repeated what she said in my mind, "I just had a grand mal seizure? Me?!" My head started to hurt and I wanted to turn back time "Will my parents be upset at me? Will I still have friends at school? Does this make me a freak?"

     Then the paramedic asked, "Do you want us to turn on the siren?" The first thought that popped in my head was, "Do it and I'll punch you." However, she was being nice. I guess some kids dream about being in an ambulance with the siren blaring, but at this point my headache was intense. I definitely didn't want to antagonize my headache with loud, obnoxious noise. "No, thank you," I replied. I closed my eyes and before I knew it we were at the hospital where my parents and older brother were waiting for our arrival.

     Since that fateful day I had an EEG done, where they put wires in some type of glue and attach them to my skull. I had to be sleep deprived for it so naturally I was exhausted. I fell right asleep as soon as they said I could lie down and sleep. On the opposite wall was a window where the doctor and my mom observed me while the doctor received information from the EEG. I think I also had an MRI done to confirm the diagnosis: epilepsy.

     The first anti convulsant medicine the doctor prescribed to me was Dilantin. However, we failed to read the warning label that said it was sun sensitive so when I went to Gemini Springs with my friends to roller blade and play frisbee one afternoon I broke out in hives. They covered me from my feet to my neck.  I was at church with my family the next day when my mom noticed me scratching my body. I slowly lifted my shirt and revealed hives, tiny red bumps, all over my abdomen. My mom then decided to take me to the ER.

     Shortly after I was put on Depakote. I hated this drug. It made me sleep all day and when I wasn't sleeping, I was eating. So I was overweight and constantly tired. I remember failing my Creative Writing class because it was the first class of the day. My mom would wake up my brother and I for seminary, a bible class, before school but I was too difficult to wake up and she worried about me not getting enough sleep so she took us out of Seminary.

     After high school the doctors wanted to see if I still had Epilepsy so they weened me off. Of course, I was still epileptic but I told my neurologist no more Depakote so I was put on Neurontin and it worked... At first. My body soon built up a tolerance for it so I had another seizure. Then I was introduced to my life saving drug: Keppra. I took it with Dilantin, only this time I remembered to always use sunscreen when I went outside.

     Throughout the years I found my triggers to be stress, not taking my meds, sleep deprivation, and strobe lights. I do have auras, where I feel a seizure coming on. One time I had to have my mom pick me up from a concert and another time I called her at work, while I was home alone with my toddler, Kevin.

     After each seizure I had temporary amnesia where I didn't know who I was, what was going on, or what these people were saying. Many seizures since were because I didn't have insurance and couldn't afford the medication; and when I was pregnant with Kevin I had a partial seizure. I was still taking Keppra and Dilantin and I was 38 weeks pregnant watching TV in a recliner with my family. I suddenly felt my legs shake and we hurried to the ER. My Keppra levels were low and Dilantin was incredibly low. (My Neurologist now said that's because Dilantin sticks to the protein of the food you eat and when you're pregnant your diet changes). Anyway, I had a healthy baby boy. He was two weeks early but 8 pounds and 12 ounces. I was considered high risk due to epilepsy and I was monitored because he could've been born with short fingernails, a cleft pallet, spinal bifida, heart problems, or mentally retarded; but I'm happy to say Kevin was born perfectly healthy. Now he's a thriving, intelligent, and active 9 year old. He is my miracle baby.

     However, for a short while I was put on a baby safe medicine, Lamictal, and was constantly having partial seizures, usually in the hands. Then one November I had a grand mal seizure at work. I felt it coming on and was going to call my husband, but that's the last thing I remember. Then I woke up on the floor with my supervisor standing over me... Embarrassing. My husband was waiting outside for me so they didn't feel it was necessary to call 911.

     My last seizure was at the apartment I shared with Jim and Kevin. I had just lost Medicaid and was in the process of reapplying when it happened. I could hear Kevin playing his Leap Frog in the living room, our bedroom door was left open, I was texting Jim at work when the tremors started. I kept throwing and dropping the phone. I felt the intensity kick up and they were getting more frequent so I called my mom at work. I don't remember much. She said she heard the phone fall and then she tried calling out to me and when I didn't respond she hung up and called 911.

     It's definitely not an easy disorder to live with nor is it any fun. A lot of times I only got auras for the big seizures, not the little ones. And it's human nature to be in denial and want to have control over your body and your movements, but no matter the positive thinking or wishing it away the tremors always continued. Once I was getting ready for school and I was so angry and frustrated at my arms for not doing what I wanted them to that I held onto the bathroom counter and stared hard into my eyes reflected in the mirror, telling myself to stop it. The next thing I knew I was being flung away from the bathroom counter and toward the ground, landing hard on the bathroom tile and hitting my head on the scale.

     Since my last seizure in 2008 I have only been on Keppra. I've had no more seizures, knock on wood, but I still have "ticks". When I'm extremely tired and trying to read my jaw has spasms which make it sound like I'm stuttering. This is a very annoying side effect.  Not long after having my second son that I was so sleep deprived that my limbs started jerking as I tried to sleep. However, I didn't lose consciousness nor had temporary amnesia during this episode. So like I stated above it's not an easy disease to live with. I have to remember to take my medicine twice a day for the rest of my life and try to get a full nights rest to keep these "ticks" at bay.

     However, I am grateful for modern medicine, the scientists and doctors who have made and improved anti convulsants, and those who have helped me when I was having a seizure. If it were not for modem medicine I more than likely would not be alive today and I wouldn't have met my two handsome miracles.

     So to my friends, family, and everyone reading this thank you for taking the time to familiarize yourself with epilepsy. It can be a very dangerous and life threatening disorder if not controlled by medication, which luckily mine are. As the month of November continues I'll continue to fill you in about what it's like to live with epilepsy, how it has affected my life, and some myths I have heard. So as always don't judge what you don't understand. I guarantee you that a person convulsing is just as scared as you are so please show them compassion and be patient as they come out of their haze. Thank you.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy 4th Anniversary!

     Four years ago today I married my best friend and my soul mate. It's not always easy. We've had our share of disagreements and our love has been tested. However, everything that we've been through has only made us stronger.  Our love for one another always sees us through and because of it our journey is an adventure.

     Here are some highlights from the past four years:

One of our dates at St. Augustine
Here we are in front of the love tree. It is rumored that if you take a picture in front of the tree that you will be together forever.
Our engagement photo
Newly weds
Our goofy quirks make us perfect for each other

We always make time for family.
Disney Quest
We're a Disney family, what can I say?
Our family growing from three to four
Our family complete
James's first trip to Disney

My hubby and Baby James ❤

     Happy Anniversary my Love.  May we have 100 more!  I love you so very much!  You have brought so much happiness into my life ❤

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How I Spent My Summer Vacation... 2014

     Only seems appropriate to call this post after my favorite Tiny Toons Adventure movies :) We had a lot of fun. Rather than tell you I thought I'd share some of my favorite moments with you.

Hayley and James watching Olaf sing "In Summer"
The girls after their dance recital

James's first time in Blue Springs... He LOVED it!!
Pictures from Wet N Wild

4th of July


Mommy and Baby James
Went to De Leon Springs

Daytona Beach Timeshare

Hung out with Alani before she moved to Texas

    As you can see it was a fun summer. I am happy to report that no one had to go to the ER, so hopefully that tradition will stay broken. :)  James loves the water. No doubt he is a water baby :) Jim brought his X-Box to the hotel, of course, but he also spent time with the family :) Kevin and I both agree that the timeshare, hanging out with cousins, and going to the beach is the best part of our summer vacation. Can't wait to do it again next year!!