Sarah Stultz: Ups and downs of having a child with epilepsy

Published 10:00 pm Monday, June 18, 2018

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

I equate my journey of having a child with epilepsy to that of riding a roller coaster. 

Some days, weeks and even months we’re smooth-sailing along. Sometimes it’s going so well that before long, we find ourselves climbing and climbing, almost to where for a split second we can daydream about life without epilepsy. Then, we reach what seems to be the top of the ride, and we begin to fall.

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Sometimes the drop is steep — your stomach drops and you’re clinging onto the bars of the seat for dear life — and you get jerked around, hoping the ride will soon be over.

Other times the drop is not as steep and is quick — just a little dip before going back up or evening off and you can find relief.

No matter whether the drop  is long and steep or quick and not as steep, it still surprises you every time it appears.

The same is true with this epilepsy ride — sometimes things seem to be going well before all the sudden you’re dealing with another flare-up of seizures or medication changes that produce difficult circumstances.

We’ve been in one of those drops for about a week and a half now, hoping the ride will soon even out or start to climb again.

As with other life challenges, we’ve learned that even though we may think of giving up, or we may feel like we’re going to lose our lunch on one of the steep drops on our roller coaster ride, we must keep going and keep hope alive.

I found this poem by a man named Greg Van De Moortele that was posted through the Epilepsy Foundation that illustrates it well. I think it is applicable to anyone with a medical challenge — or any life challenge — though it is written specifically with epilepsy in mind.

“The Fighter”

As the fighter enters the ring

Several thoughts race through their minds

What are they now facing

Putting their previous fights behind.

When diagnosed with epilepsy

That patient enters the ring

Their fight now commences

Awaiting what it will bring.

The fighter wins round one

Placing points on their card.

They accept their condition

Knowing the future may be hard.

The first medication fails

Giving the opponent round two.

Advice, and support in their corner

Allows the fighter to continue.

Rounds three through six

Are all considered a draw.

Each medication did assist,

But each one had their flaws.

During the seventh round

The fighter lets down his guard

A large seizure has occurred

Hitting the patient very hard.

Things begin to brighten

Throughout rounds eight and nine.

No seizures have taken place

During this stretch of time.

Now begins the final round,

One of many bouts,

It falls to the judges scorecards

But it was a win without doubt.

When a medication is tried

But does not succeed

Consider that round a draw

And continue to proceed.

To be titled champion

The patient is completely seizure free.

Whether it be controlled by medication

Or cured by surgery.

This is everyone’s goal

Neurologists and patients alike,

But until that day arrives

You must persist in your fight.

To the friends out there who have been dealing with medical illness and other challenges: Stay in the fight.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.