A woman falls into the sky as the park and hospital landscape around her is flipped upside down.

When My World Changed: The Day of My First Seizure

Last updated: December 2022

I remember the day of my first seizure like it happened yesterday. I remember sitting in 1 of my college classes, October 2014, listening to my professor go over social prejudice. I remember her dividing us into groups so that we could discuss any prejudice that we have faced in our lifetimes. I remember suddenly getting up from the group and walking out of class.

My first seizure at school

I remember sitting outside the room on a bench, moving to the floor, going to the bathroom to get a wet towel to put on my neck and face, and returning to the bench. Students passed me by and I must have looked at how I felt because each student would ask if I was okay or if I needed help. I remember telling each one that I was okay. Then a classmate walked out and asked the same question and I can remember looking at her and telling her something was wrong, I told her to get our professor, and to call 911. At that moment I knew something wasn't quite right.

The next thing I can remember is coming to with students, staff, and medics surrounding me. The medics very quietly explaining to me that they had just witnessed me have a seizure and that I would need to go to the hospital.

The next few days were a blur as I was admitted to a hospital 6 hours aways from my own home and family. Doctors monitored me continuously and pumped me full of seizure medications to ensure that it would not happen again. After a few days, I was discharged and back on the college campus as if nothing had even happened. I returned to campus with the mindset that it was a fluke and would be my one and only seizure. But man, was I far from wrong.

Ongoing seizures and a life-changing result

The rest of the semester I would go on to have as many as 30 seizures a day. I spent so much time in and out of the hospital, it felt like my second home.

Through all of this, the one thing I was beyond proud of is how steady my grades had stayed, especially knowing I was coming up on finals week. I did not want to fall behind in any way as a student. Until one day, my world changed.

It was not a seizure that turned my world upside down but, instead, a college administrator. She decided that my health had become a distraction to other students and that it was not fair for them. I was told that I had no choice but to medically withdraw from the college until the next semester. I was young, naive, and honestly had no idea that I had legal options here.

Forced out of college because of my seizures

I was not aware that they could not force me out of school due to a medical disability beyond my control. I had not yet learned about disability services on campus or the Americans with Disabilities Act. And so, 2 weeks before I was to take my finals for my sophomore year, I was sitting in the dean of students' office signing paperwork saying I had 24 hours to leave campus. Signing paperwork that explicitly said that I was being withdrawn due to my health.

I was told that come January, the following semester after winter break, that I was more than welcome to return as long as a doctor cleared me to do so. So that is exactly what I tried to do. I spent the break getting my health in order, seeing doctors, and ending the break with a doctor's note stating that I was in a condition that would allow me to return to school.

I contacted my administration and sent them the letter in which my doctor stated I was in a good place to continue my education. I provided the doctor's note and my doctor's information and even provided my diagnosis and treatment plan. But was that enough? No, no it was not.

I was told that they were not going to accept me back on campus that semester and that I should try again the following semester. So again, that is exactly what I did. I kept a part of my heart open and hopeful for the chance to continue my education at the only college I wanted to attend. Just for the administration to shut the door in my face multiple times over something I had absolutely no control over.

I wish I new my rights back then

As if being 19 in college, perfectly healthy, and striving in clubs and classes was not hard enough. I was thrown the curve ball of beginning my epilepsy journey and instead of supporting me as a student, they told me I was a disruption and kicked me to the curb.

While I was just beginning my life with epilepsy and seizures, medications, and side effects. I was learning a whole new normal. Back then I did not know anything about advocating for myself or even that I had rights. I had yet to build the support system that I have now, the ones who would fight tooth and nail for me.

If I could change anything from 2014 it would not be the fact that I started having seizures, but instead, I would have stood up for myself more. I would have told the college that someone's health condition is not reason enough to kick them out of school. I would have educated staff on ADA rights.

And I would have told myself over and over again that none of this was my fault and that I deserved more! I would have told myself that epilepsy is just a small part of who I am, not the whole picture.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The EpilepsyDisease.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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