Pat’s Story

Growing Up with Epilepsy

When I was three months old, I developed a very high fever, and the nurses of the Ramestein Germany Army Base, put me in an ice bath, instead of luke warm water. It is said that the shock to the brain caused the seizures, because it lowered my threshold. At 1 year of age I again had a generalized seizure, meaning it affected the entire brain, and lasted for a long period of time. The medical professionals diagnosed me as having “Status Epilepticus”, in which the brain is under constant electrical activity for more than 30 minutes. This condition can cause the patient to have airway circulation and respiratory problems later in life. Some patients are lucky enough to outgrow epilepsy, but for others it can be a lifelong challenge I was having an average of up to 15 seizures per week lasting an average of 3 – 5 minutes.

During my school years I had a very difficult social life, I was nervous to hang around with other people for fear of me having a seizure. Kids were always making fun of me, and calling me “SPAZ” because of the way that I acted during a seizure.  I never really had one good friend, who I would hang out with. On August 16, 1984, I was a patient at C.H.E.O, I had my entire head shaven and was then wheeled into the operating room under the care of Dr. Ivan and his surgical team. My head was turned on a right angle, and the left side of my head was completely covered in iodine, and a question mark shaped incision was made. I had a left temporal lobectomy, and I then went 18 months seizure free. It was believed that the surgery had been a success. There were many school activities, which I could never take part in. I started changing for the worst in the academic areas, and because of this my grades began to fall. Memory, balance, shivers in the sides of my head and depression are the four side effects that bother me the most to this day.

While growing up, I was a nervous child that the seizures may happen at any time. At the age of 11, I was found to have difficulty with spacial reasoning, as well as moderate sensory impairment. My parents noticed that I was not performing as well in school since the previous year. In my younger years, I was having an average of 15 – 20 seizures per month and each was lasting about 5 minutes in length.

I could never take part in gym class, in fears of me falling and hitting my head, so what the teachers did was they had me take photos of activities for the school yearbook, so I could still earn credits in physical education.

During my high school years, I was getting very poor grades, mostly due to the fact that epilepsy plays a major role in memory and cognitive thinking areas of the brain. Because of that, I had to do my classes at a lower level than that of most of my other classmates. I was having problems remembering things from one minute to the next and was also having a very hard time understanding the work. While I was going through school, I was not able to take part in many school activities for fear of me hitting my head. In order for me to obtain my physical education credit, I took pictures for the school newspaper.

Well, it is now 1987 and all is going much better, I am now seizure free and everyone thought that my problems were over, only to be proven wrong.

When Mom first started getting ill, it was noticed by others that my attitude was taking a change for the worse. I again started to feel the auras of a seizure yet nothing was becoming of them. In 1987, Mom was admitted to the Ottawa Civic Hospital for breast cancer. When Mom passed away in 1988, I had a seizure at her wake, as well as the funeral

The following year, I again started having seizures on a regular basis, and on August 27, 1990, I again was admitted to hospital for surgery, this time it was the Montreal Neurological Hospital.

I have been diagnosed with Major Neurocognitive disorders, which is better known as dementia, and the early signs of Alzheimer’s. Some problems that many people endure are managing medications, and bill paying as well as remembering medical appointments. (Grohol, 2014) As a person gets older, the younger people look upon them as the leaders, and expect them to perform better than the younger people. But this is not always the case, as many of the older people age they lose much of their brain power, and they have to rely on the younger people for help.

I have had, and still do have, many steep hills to climb and quite often I’ll get half way up, then slide back down. Another big effect this has had on me is I am a single man and I am nervous and afraid of rejection when approaching women. As well epilepsy greatly affects your memory, and many patients claim to have a poor quality of life. Living with epilepsy is like having a wild storm in your life and you dock your ship and don’t want to venture too far out to sea, now with any luck, the storms of my life have subsided.

With that being said, I have now want to jump back into the ring, and give life a TKO.

Pat Oates