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5: Education

I was compelled by my little girl to write about our flooded basement today. She's pretty proud of how much she helped out. However, I didn't think it was very applicable. Instead, there is a subject that has been bouncing around in my head for a couple weeks now and I think I want to express my feelings on it. I belong to several epilepsy advocate groups on Facebook. Not long ago on one of them someone posted a question that I thought was evident to all, but apparently it isn't. The poster queried the group as to whether an epileptic can attend college. Of course he was answered with a resounding yes. It seems that most people in that particular group had a college education of some sort.

What bothered me most about the question is that prior to posting, he had been told that he was not able to attend a university due to his condition. As a college graduate myself, I can also say that it is possible to attend a university. However having epilepsy makes it much more difficult. Someone may ask why it is more difficult. There are a lot of factors that play into answering that question.

I've heard people say that epilepsy is a lot like autism. In that if you have met one person on the spectrum, you have met one person on the spectrum. Every case is so different. In that respect, the two are quite alike. If you have met one person with epilepsy, you have met one person with epilepsy. My experience is going to differ greatly in some circumstances, like education. My extremely large dosage of Lamictal during my later college days would make me so dizzy that I was sick to my stomach to the point that I would throw up constantly and could barely walk. Making attending class impossible about once a week on average. Even if it wasn't one of the days that the Lamictal built up strongly in my system, if I took two doses too close to one another I would get extremely dizzy and sick as well.

Also I was constantly worried about breakthrough seizures interrupting class. In so much that in order to minimize the possibility of breakthrough seizures I would take a nap on the floor of my wife's office between classes. No one was there at the time, and she probably would have gotten in trouble for it. But she was willing to take that risk as long as I could make it to my classes. As far as I can remember, a breakthrough seizure only interrupted class once. Luckily the class size was so large (200+ students) that the only person who seemed to take notice was the professor. Later on she quizzed me a bit on what happened and I had to explain why I missed class sometimes and what was going on with me. The reason it has only interrupted class once that I know of is not just coincidence or luck. I had to carefully plan my school schedule around my sleep schedule and pill schedule. On top of that, I also had to make sure to keep my stress levels were low, and keep my diet to a point that would minimize the chances.

There have been times where I simply could not attend class due to my stress levels being much too high and therefore my seizure levels were too high. For one, I wouldn't be able to concentrate on the lecture, and two, I would be distracting the other students from the lecture. High stress levels are bad for me, but they also initiate an anxiety issue that comes at night for me. This ends up in lost sleep, which further exacerbates the breakthrough seizure issue.

I first started experiencing my seizures during high school. I don't seem to remember them affecting my schoolwork, other than the occasional missed day to a tonic clonic seizure that happened either the night before or that morning. That is another subject altogether though, and is best saved for another week. Until then. Stay happy.

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