As President of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance , I want to introduce you to Lisa Pack from Newfoundland. In keeping with our agency’s 20th anniversary we wanted to highlight individual stories this year. Lisa reminds us that we can get through the tough times of getting diagnosed with epilepsy by having great support of family , friends, and determination.
Epilepsy Newfoundland and Labrador offers a free membership with our agency, and Lisa Pack is a member living in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Members participate in ENL events, Purple Day, etc.
I wasn’t born with epilepsy, and I didn’t develop it at a young age. The first 18 years of my life were spent happy & healthy. In October of 2016, however, all that changed.
One evening, I went to bed like any other night, but woke up around 6 am and knew something was wrong. I started vomiting and having multiple seizures. My family brought me to the hospital where I was then transported via ambulance to another hospital a few hours away. From there on I underwent a CT scan, an MRI, EKG’S, EEGS, sleep deprived EEGS, and had a few needles.
I was finally diagnosed with epilepsy a few weeks after all of the testing. It was a weird moment. I knew my life was about to change completely. I was put on anti-seizure medication right away and was taught about how to avoid the things that trigged my seizures. For me, it was not getting enough sleep, being stressed out, or being under the influence of alcohol. So I had to learn how to start taking care of myself, which didn’t come easy. Along with that I had also lost my license. This was all happening in the middle of mid-term week in my first year of university. Battling my health and school work and all these changes took quite a toll on me.
I’ve always had really bad anxiety growing up but it worsened and I was also eventually diagnosed with depression alongside it. I was put on anti-depressants to try and improve my mood and quality of life. It was a hard time. I spent countless days not getting out of bed because I saw no point, and I was too sad and anxious to leave my room most of the time. Having lost my license, although I know it may seem like no big deal, made me have to rely on others. Having to ask family or friends to take me places or to help me out bothered me. I wanted to be able to do things by myself, so I felt like my independence was gone. All of my friends were out enjoying themselves and enjoying university, and I felt like I was missing out on that part of my life. I sometimes still do.
I think one of the main things that helped along the way was the amazing support system I had. My family and friends always went above and beyond to help me anyway they could and I’m forever grateful for them. When I was in one of the lowest points of my journey my parents decided to finally buy me a dog (I had been begging for one for years!). I named her Sailor, and she is completely the light of my life. She came into my life at a time when I really needed her, and her love and energetic spirit is what continues to make me happier each day.
In no way was my journey easy but I wouldn’t change anything because it’s made me a stronger person. I am thankful for everything and everyone I have in this life and I never take anything for granted anymore. You get one life, and even though it’s been rough, I’m blessed this is the one I get to live.
Epilepsy has never, and will never, own my life.