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Katherine's Story
I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder at the age of fourteen. Shortly thereafter, an MRI was scheduled to rule out the possibility of a brain tumor, but the results confirmed that a large mass existed in the temporal/parietal area of my brain. Due to it's size, approximately that of a small orange, surgery was scheduled for two weeks from the day of diagnosis, allowing me to attend my junior prom.

Following surgery, for the next seven years, my diagnosis of "seizure disorder" changed to "epilepsy." This meant I didn't just have a seizure here and there, but in fact had epilepsy. Epilepsy. That word you've seen in so many places, often paired with images of people frothing at the mouth, or associated with the devil, most times, having the devil within them.

For those seven years, from 2003-2009 I had irregular seizures that did not seem to make sense as to when they occurred. I wanted so desperately to be a "normal" teenager, but the seven medications I took during those seven years affected me enormously. I was living in a "fog," I gained forty pounds, I lashed out at my parents and family for reasons I cannot even remember, and would be ashamed to admit. High school is a blur-I graduated with barely any knowledge stored in my brain of what I had learned in my classes. The feelings, fears, and frustrations, however, I remembered very clearly.

Shortly after my admission to UC Berkeley, after three years at Sacramento City College, I began having what I thought to be "panic attacks." They were in fact, pseudo-seizures for which I have currently forgotten the name. When I left home, coincidently, they became even more frequent and I spent my two years at Berkeley in and out of the ER at Alta Bates hospital. The firemen knew me, the Alta Bates staff knew me, and my roommates became very used to the routine of my auras-->emergency medication-->9-1-1--> hospital visit. I would not have been able to survive and stay at Berkeley if it were not for them. They are my gardian angels.

Today, I am still having seizures on a weekly basis, but my tonic-clonic have slowed to occurring within six weeks rather than one month. I have not been to the hospital since September but I am still looking into the possibility of surgery.

Seizures, epilepsy, is something I would never wish on anyone, but it has brought beauty with the many beastly things it has done. I have met some of the most passionate doctors, the kindest individuals, and come to know the willingness of strangers to go out of their way to assure you are safe. I would not have known this to the extent that I do today if I did not live a life with epilepsy. I try to remind myself of this whenever I feel resentment or afraid and sometimes, it helps.
Katherine Kaffka - Davis, CA