Melissa’s Story


My name is Melissa. The day before my first day of high school, I had stayed up all night for an AP English class that I had gotten myself into! I woke up completely exhausted. I got home from my very first day of high school and told my parents my stories. They went to take a nap. I don’t recall where my little brother and sister were at the time. When my parents woke up, I was on the floor with a pickle next to my mouth. My head was a little scratched up from the carpet. At the time, it looked as though I was just so tired that I just passed out where I was standing. I actually have a picture that my mom took because she thought it was “cute how tired I was”.

I’m not sure how much longer it was until my next seizure but it happened again but this time my parents saw it. I was taken to the hospital, tons of tests were run. I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I hadn’t even heard the word before. As a 14 year old girl, just starting high school and turning into a young woman this was incredibly difficult. It not only changed my life, but it changed my family’s life. They saw almost every seizure and I can’t even imagine what that did to them.

My doctor was in Fresno, CA…A couple hours away from my home. He started trying different medications. There were so many to choose from! I tried quite a few while I was seeing him. I was 16, seizure free for 15 months and I just got my permit. I had a seizure after my first driving lesson. I had no idea why! I was taking my meds so I obviously had to go back to the doctor to find out why. This time my family and I went somewhere different though. I met my doctor at UCLA while I was having video EKG for two weeks. Dr. Parvizi saved my life.

Just to insert a fun fact in here, while I was in a hospital bed for two weeks, I got bored…So my grandma bought me this stuffed cow who I named Betsy. I might’ve been 17 but yes, I talked to her when I was lonely and sad. It’s been 10 years and I still do the same thing when I’m sad!

Anyways, my doctor was able to bring out the best and definitely the worst in me. I hate taking medication. I took it for a while and since it didn’t work, I had no desire to continue so I wasn’t consistent with how I took it. I also had trouble taking large pills. He put in a VNS about 5 years ago. Around that time, I was incredibly depressed. I was an alcoholic. I wasn’t happy with my life. I didn’t want to take my meds at all. I was having seizures almost every 2 weeks. I saw a psychiatrist. It helped a little. Eventually, I made the decision to change things. I grew up. I started ACTUALLY taking the real dosage of my meds. I stopped drinking. I stopped having seizures. I’ve been seizure free for over 2 years now. My VNS is turned off because my seizures are able to be primarily controlled by meds. And my favorite thing…I can drive! I’m thankful for every day I get.