Getting Diagnosed With Epilepsy When You Are Old as Dirt

Me in the hospital back in 2019

December 16, 2019 was a perfectly ordinary day for me. I got up, washed my ass, painted my face and went to work. When I got off, I went to Target to pick up the set of Lincoln Logs I had ordered for my grandson for Christmas and purchased some other stuff because women are gatherers by nature and I couldn’t resist. Then I went home, cooked chicken tacos, talked shit with my children, and went to bed. But little did I know that in less than 30 minutes, my life as I knew it would change forever.

I had a seizure during those 30 minutes and when I came to after the seizure, my house was in chaos. My babies were crying, ambulance attendants everywhere, & Diddy (my cat) was hiding under the bed. I barely knew my name and didn’t have a clue about anything. I was rushed immediately to the hospital where I spent two days receiving a battery of tests on my brain. All the CT and MRI scans came back normal so I was released and told to rest. I went back to work after a few days and continued to live my perfectly ordinary existence.

I thought everything was fine until October 17, 2020. Once again it was a perfectly ordinary day. It was a Saturday and I decided to make some beef stew for dinner. I was missing several key ingredients so I went to the Walmart down the street from my house. I purchased my items and remember standing outside waiting for an Uber and then nothing until waking up in an ambulance on my way to the University of Chicago Hospital. I had another seizure and if it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers, lord knows what would have happened to me. I still had my purse, wallet and cell phone although I believe if it happened now, I would have woken up with nothing because people are extra grimy these days but I’m digressing so let me chill.

When I awakened from this seizure, I was scared as hell and started wilding out, trying to fight the ambulance attendants and one of these dudes referred to me as “combative.” Wouldn’t you be combative if you woke up clueless and didn’t even know what year it was because you had a grand mal seizure? Sorry motherfucker.

But when I got to the hospital, everyone else were empathetic. I was eventually admitted and diagnosed with epilepsy a month before my 50th birthday. I’m a special individual: first seizure a month after my 49th birthday and then diagnosed with epilepsy a month before the big 50☠️.

Since then, I have had two seizures, the next one on November 14, 2020 and the last one March 1, 2021. I’m currently taking 3000mg of levetiracetam which is the highest dosage recommended for this medication and it’s working because I haven’t had a seizure in almost a year but the side effects are something else.

Constantly tired, broken down and worn out. If I go to the grocery store, I feel like I’ve worked a full day of work. I’ve left two jobs this year because of the side effects of this necessary evil I need for my body and is currently trying to wrap my mind around the possibility that working a regular, on-site job might not be an option for me anymore. But I refuse to believe that. I’m only 51 years old and I know some younger folks believe that I have one foot in the graveyard but 51 isn’t old by a long shot.

I still have plenty of time left on this planet. I’m going to work on getting this fat off my ass, become more mobile and live my life. Epilepsy is not going to ruin my possibilities of which there are many. I’m going to keep striving and living because I have so much to live for. My children. My grandson and my new grand baby who’s due in the spring. My friends and other family members. My funky ass cat who works my nerves but I love to pieces. And myself because I want to be an old lady with snow white locs with a hand carved cane in the shape of a cat at the top. Telling people to get the fuck off lawn and still giggling madly at silly shit. The last two years of my life have been filled with so much turmoil, grief and anxiety but I’m still here to tell my story. And I’m grateful.

Realization Is a Hard Pill to Swallow

It was a year in October that I was diagnosed with epilepsy and since then, I’ve worked two jobs. Both jobs I’ve walked away from because the medication I take to control the seizures makes me so tired and discombobulated that I’m useless. The medication I’m taking is levetiracetam and the side effects are loss of strength and energy, sleepiness amongst several others.

I’m always sleepy now and have taken more naps now than the three times I was pregnant. I’m clumsy as hell and feel generally lethargic most of the time. Which is not good in the field that I’m in which is clerical/administrative. To be in that line of work, one must be detailed oriented, attentive, and on point at all times because one little mistake can be costly. But it’s hard to be attentive when you are taking medication that makes you nod out like a dope friend.

There are some who will say that I should try another medication but when it comes to seizure medications, it’s not that simple. My neurologist would have to wean me off the levi shit and then put me on another medication that will also come with several side effects and that is too much. What few brain cells I have left will not be experimented on.

So today I finally came to the realization that working a traditional job will not be an option for me anymore and that realization makes me feel so sad and useless. I fought the welfare system to obtain a bachelors degree that would make me more desirable in the job field and now 15 years later at the age of 51, a medication has rendered me useless.

I know I can work from home but I like getting out and about, going to lunch, watching people, meeting new people, having social interactions with people. I’m only 51 and this is supposed to be my life now? This is some straight bullshit.

Some little girls wanted to grow up and be a housewife. I wanted to grow up and work in a fancy office and earn my own money. To not be dependent on anyone. I’ve applied for disability and was turned down but eventually I will get it but damn. All I wanted was my own economic autonomy but my body is not cooperating. And I’m pissed, sad, and numb.