I remember the first time I saw it happen. Sitting atop my bunk bead listening to my father tell us good night. It would have been a storybook moment, complete with kisses on the forehead and a quick check for monsters under the bed and in the closet. But that night was different from most. It happens quicker than you might realize and as I stood in the corner next to my bed I cried because I thought my father was dying.
My father has epilepsy. I have gotten used to the seizures since then and could be mistaken for a medical professional with the ease and calm with which I handle these situations now, but it’s still not easy, restraining the person you love so they don’t hurt themselves. This has become an ever-present fear in my life since that day. Fear that at any moment during the day epilepsy could take its toll. It has caused tremendous suffering for my father. I see him dealing with this every day as he “phases out” as he calls it. These phase outs are small seizures he has every day that cause him to lose consciousness for a split second. Dozens of these a day can’t be good for the brain.
Sadly, the head of the household is not the only one forced to deal with this problem. At age 7 my brother developed epilepsy as well. My parents were devastated. They knew the toll epilepsy could take on a person and they cried because they understood all too well what hardships he faced.
There is hope in the future though. There is hope in belief, and faith. I believe in medicine. I believe it has the ability to do great things, above and beyond what it has already accomplished. Through the technologies we have in our power today we can do almost anything; we just require those willing to put in the time and effort to see it through to the end. I believe I am such a person.
I believe in giving back as well, and responsibility. I have recently made a decision to try and repay my father and brother for all they have done for me. I have decided to devote my life and myself to finding a cure. I am currently a senior in the medical technology program at Western Kentucky University and plan to dedicate my life in the field of epilepsy research. I plan on attaining by degree in medical technology doing everything I can to see a cure is found, even if it means more school.
There has been some exciting research that has come out recently using viral vectors as an approach to a cure. This type of gene therapy is becoming one of the major tools for medicinal research and promises great things in the future. It is my hope that I can contribute to this research and, if not find a cure, at least find a way to make the lives of those with epilepsy a little better.
This will be my life’s work. This is my dream. I choose to share it with those of you who will hear so that you may know, especially those of you with epilepsy, that I am on your side and will do whatever I can to see you through to a cure. I may not have epilepsy, but I know what its like to live with it every day. I guess all I can say is “Wish me Luck”.
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