Awesome's Story--Part II: 2008-2013

Awesome's Story: Part I: 2007-2008

The 5 years from 2008-2013, at least on the surface, were a wonderful time in our epilepsy journey.

From age 3 1/2 to age 8 1/2, Awesome was totally seizure free--without drugs, without special diet, without any treatment whatsoever.  Yes, that's right!  We had FIVE amazing, happy and blessed years with no seizures and no anti-epileptic drugs!

So far as we knew we were done with seizures forever.  We assumed that Awesome's year of seizures was merely an unfortunate early chapter in her life.  We'd come through it, we thought, without any long-term consequences or permanent damage.  No one told us any differently.   And though her epileptologist mentioned that, because Awesome had suffered seizures as a preschooler, she had a slightly elevated chance of developing seizures later, even he talked as if this were a remote possibility.  We were told she'd "outgrown" her seizures, and because we knew adults who'd outgrown preschool seizures, never have another one, so we reasonably expected the same for Awesome.  And so we went back to living our lives and making our plans without so a thought of seizures or epilepsy.

During those five seizure-free years we traveled to South Korea, to Europe, and to Canada.  On occasion Awesome suffered from jet-lag and was sleep deprived.  We did many things that would be risky for someone with epilepsy.  And we didn't worry at all.  There wasn't even the hint of a seizure.

Awesome  ate whatever she wanted (and, sometimes, like all kids, she had to eat what she didn't want to) with no restrictions.  She took no over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

She was a normal little girl living a happy life with five older brothers, an older sister, a best friend who lived next door, and a mother and father--all of whom loved her dearly.  She loved her family, her friends, and life itself.

Awesome studied violin, took dance (ballet, tap, modern) classes, swim lessons, went to music and theater summer day camps, and thrived in every way.  Because she was read to by her large family, Awesome loved books from the time she was an infant.  Being thus motivated, at the tender age of two she taught herself the alphabet and phonics, and then, when she was four, after asking for help,  she learned to read.  Awesome immediately became a "bookworm" devouring easy-to-read books, beginning chapter books, comic books, and graphic novels at such a pace that we had to keep switching local libraries to continue to supply her with new books. Clearly she'd sustained no learning or cognitive impairments from her early seizures and pneumonia.  And because she was surrounded by the creative energies and endeavors of her five very creative older brothers, even as a preschooler, Awesome launched into her own creative projects.   Among them, a stop motion film that she conceived, directed, shot, voiced, (her brothers helped her produce & edit it), and then entered in a kids' film festival.    Awesome enthusiastically and readily embraced everything life had to offer.   Her future seemed bright and promising, and we had every reason to believe it would remain untroubled by her earlier health concerns.

The one modification that remained from her early seizure experiences was our determination to keep Awesome away from all things herbicide,  pesticide, and (unnecessarily) chemical.  No mosquito spray for her.  No herbicides in our yard; no pesticides in our house.  We were leery of chemical cleaning products.  We bought organic products when we could, and our diet, which had always been good, became better.  All these things were simply a precaution.  And were, we thought, a small price to pay to protect Awesome from a possible unwelcome repeat of that troubled earlier chapter of her life.

Everything seemed to be in place for a healthy, happy childhood which would eventually transition into normal, healthy teen years and then into a healthy, normal adulthood.

Little did we know, however, that under the surface, within Awesome's marvelously functioning brain, a storm was brewing.  Those five seizure-free years were likely her focal epilepsy's latency period.  A latency period is a 5-20 year time span after someone sustains a brain injury, when the seizures go underground--either disappearing entirely (as with Awesome) or severely lessening.  During this quiet period, injured brain tissue slowly transforms into abnormal epileptogenic--seizure generating--tissue.  Normal EEG's slowly transform into abnormal EEG's.  And what had previously been a normal brain slowly morphs into an epileptic brain

Until, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, the seizures start again....