Epilepsy entered (Written 20 Mar 2021)
Suffering - Mar 24, 2021 Author: Jeanette Green

Epilepsy entered (Written 20 Mar 2021)

The first time I saw someone having an epileptic seizure, I was five. I had gone with my mom to do our monthly grocery shopping at the Pick & Pay. We were walking from our car to the store’s entrance, when I saw the contorting human body, on the floor, just outside of the entrance. Witnessing that, scared me senseless. And the images of the writhing limbs, foaming mouth, rolling eyes, pale-faced helpers, red-flashing-light ambulance, were burned into my mind, forever.

Was I perhaps so shocked by what I saw, because my spirit already knew my future?

I can’t remember exactly when I first started noticing a few odd things about myself. But by the time I got to high school and because of involuntary jerking movements of my arms, most mornings burnt myself with my coffee, I knew - something was not quite ‘right’ with me.
Next, I started having split-second black-outs, causing small memory lapses, in class and while chatting to my friends.

Back then, I was one of the clever girls. I loved studying, and I loved being an ‘A’ student even more. Excelling at academics gave my life some kind of meaning. But bit-by-bit, whatever was busy happening to me, was chipping away this foundation I have built my life on. I felt shaken, fearful, and out of control.

Mom did take me to the doctor. The calming tablets I was prescribed did not help, and the involuntary jerking of my limbs and the black-outs continued. I concluded that I was perhaps just clumsy. Why else would I continuously spill coffee all over myself or struggle to finish my sentences?

But in April of 1996, shortly after I had turned 19, I got my answer. That contorting human body which I witnessed when I was five at the Pick & Pay, became me. Mom rushed me to our GP who stared at me with wide eyes and referred me to a neurologist. After I had an EEG and an MRI of my brain, my ‘clumsiness’ finally got a name – I had epilepsy.

What the diagnosis meant, I had no clue. The neurologist had pushed a prescription for anti-epilepsy drugs in my hand, told me to sleep enough and to avoid alcohol.
At my parent’s home, I rested for a week to recover from the seizure. Then I got back to my student-life, in Pretoria, and tried to forget about the diagnosis. I did, when I remembered, drank my meds, morning and night. But no way could I fit in more sleep or cut down on alcohol. I mean, my life had just gotten started!

I simultaneously partied wilder and sacrificed more sleep to make my course deadlines. My seizures worsened, but I still ignored my epilepsy. Until, one night, I had a monster of a seizure (a tonic-clonic seizure), in public. None of my friends were around, and how I got home, I don’t know. When I woke up the next day, it was like something in my mind had clicked into place. I had to face the fact that I have epilepsy, I had to look out for myself.

Such turmoil was in my soul. In some small way, knowing what caused my ‘clumsiness’, was a relief. But having to adjust my life to accommodate my epilepsy was a bitter pill to swallow.

Where was God?
I grew up in a Christian home, and so I knew of God. But I was not yet a reborn Christian, and so I did not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus. Utterly alone I felt, as I spluttered to keep my head above the raging storm waters my epilepsy (and other things) had caused in my life. All I had in my heart towards God was rage. Why, if He is God, did He inflict this suffering on me?

Only decades later would I realize I never was alone, all those years. God was there, watching over me. He gave me the grace to survive the storm, to come out on the other side, stronger. And later I realized that He had used epilepsy to shape me into the person He planned me to be. No longer was I the self-assured, ‘A’ student, who could achieve everything in life by my amazing intellect. It had taken a long, long time, but I finally understood that I was dependent on God. Not just for the big things, but for every breath, and every step I took, however small or seemingly insignificant.

Father God, I pray for every person recently diagnosed with epilepsy. Be with him/her, as he/she goes through the process of coming to terms with the diagnosis. Give wisdom to the health professionals involved, so that he/she will receive all necessary information and suitable medication will be prescribed. Be present in his/her battle with epilepsy, fight for him/her. Father, above all, I pray for complete healing and restoration. That he/she will be seizure-free, for the remainder of his/her life. However You choose to heal – day by day, through medication, or by miraculous deliverance – we thank You, oh God, that You are our healer, and that Your blessings are eternal. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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