Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders characterized by epileptic seizures. Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable to long periods of vigorous shaking. In epilepsy, seizures tend to recur and have no immediate underlying cause. (Source: Wiki)
It all started on December 15th 2011 when I woke up in ICU. I had a tube down my throat and needles in my arms which I grasped for wildly and pulled out with enough force to tear the skin surrounding it, leaving me with permanent scars on my larynx and the skin on my throat. As my mind tried to orient itself to my surroundings, I though back feverishly, trying desperately to recount how I may have ended up here, in this hospital, with all of these tubes and needles in me, with my head pounding. What was the last thing I could remember? A door… A handle… OMG what happened to me?
My name is Sarah, I am 36 years old and I am from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. On November 17th, 2011 an ambulance was called to collect me from a parking lot, where I had been discovered lying unconscious by my baby daughter with a severe head trauma. No one knew how I got there, or how I had split open my skull, but one thing was for sure; I was not going to be ok.
As I sat in ICU, my brother, Aaron, tried to help me reconstruct my world…who was my mother, my sisters , my daughters. All these things had completely escaped my memory.
It was terrifying. The only person that I actually recognized was my brother Aaron.
My mind had been dulled by the medication used to induce me into a coma, and I was operating at around a six year old child’s capacity. I was unable to walk, it was very painful to talk and when I did, it was difficult to remember normal language. I felt exhausted every day from the barrage of medication I was prescribed during my recovery process and went from spending time with my two beautiful children, to trying to piece my shattered life back together.
As time passed and my memory started to come back. We began trying to understand what had happened, and why. The police had suspected foul play and a possible assault. But after an extensive investigation which lasted almost a year, they determined that no suspects could be found. The case is still open, but it is considered cold at this time. With no other option, we decided to look at my medical history for some kind of clue. Maybe the answer was there…
As it happens; on Easter Sunday of 2010, over a year previous, I had a seizure on my way home from work in the back of a taxi coming home from a shift at my job as a server. The doctor at that time, told me that it was because I was working too much, and the stress of having to work so much and take care of two girls had caused me to become exhausted, which may have brought on the seizure.
At that time, I was taken into the ER and barrages of tests were conducted to determine if I had any kind of neurological problems. They performed two electroencephalograms, (EEGs), in May, and in June where: “No potentiality epileptiform activity was recorded” by Niagara Neurological Services, (NNS). Afterwards, my doctor told me that “I would likely never have a seizure again as long as I slowed down a bit.” So, I put any possibility of having another seizure in the back of my mind and carried on living, never giving it, a second thought. – but that was then.
Now there were other possibilities. I was either assaulted, or I had succumbed to another seizure that had nearly killed me resulting in severe head trauma with intra cranial hemorrhage, requiring immediate and subsequent surgeries, life support, ICU for weeks not to mention rehabilitation for motor and language skills. No one knew for sure. So it was back to observation and testing.
In January, 2012, two and half weeks after I woke up from my coma, I was moved to the Hotel Dieu Shaver Hospital in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. For 45 days, I attended rehabilitation classes which helped me re-develop my reading, strength, and coordination skills. For this period I was kept on Dilantin as a precaution because it was suspected that I may have an epileptic seizure as a result of my head trauma.
After my rehabilitation finished, I moved out of the hospital and in with my brother whom I lived with for a few weeks before moving into my Mother’s home. I needed constant supervision and care now as I was unable to live alone due to the threat of either a potential attacker, and or another neurological episode which might cause me to go unconscious or cause a seizure again and further injure my already fragile skull and brain.
On May 1st 2012, I underwent surgery to put back the piece of skull they had removed and install a reconstructive plate to close the hole they had left to drain any inflammation I may have incurred in the interim between surgeries. Since then, I have had 30 seizures and live my life as a person with the disorder epilepsy. I am unable to work, I am unable to have custody of my two girls, I can’t eat the foods I love, and to this day, I am unable to live alone.
I have taken over 13 different types of Seizure medications that have not worked for my particular type of seizure, and as of today, I am still taking 8 seizure pills a day with another 9 accompanying them to rectify complications the seizure pills induce. As a result of my head trauma, I experience staggering migraines which are so painful that it makes my vision blurry and causes me to vomit almost daily.
If I’m lucky, I may get to see my oldest daughter Skylar, who is 15, once a month.She, like most 15 year old girls, goes to school, works and babysits. We make up for it by finding time on our cellphones, and between random daily calls and texting we manage to make up for the logistic challenges of being in different cities.
I have a visitation with my youngest daughter Madeline, who is 5 for 6 hours a week. Unfortunately, her father and I are separated, and after my injury, he filed for custody claiming I would be incapable of taking care of her in my condition.
In November of 2014, over 3 years after my admittance into emergency for a severe head trauma and a 28 day coma, I am scheduled to undergo a series of tests spread out over a two week period where doctors will take me off of my medications to endues seizures which they can study and try to determine exactly what is causing them in me. Ironically, November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and this being my three year anniversary only makes it more ironic.
I am terrified, but I know that I must go and find out what is wrong, and what, if anything, I can do about it. Every day, I wake up determined to get back my life, and re-unite with my daughters.
They are why I fight to stay alive. They are why I fight through the constant headaches and vomiting. They are why I will never give up.
Never give up
Sarah Kyla Ann Flonders
Sarah Kyla Ann Flonders continues to be faced with the challenges of Epilepsy and wished to share her story with the viewers of niagarabuzz.ca. If you have any comments, please share them below. If you have a story of your own you would like to share please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org