Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your epilepsy.
A: I had my first seizure in Vietnam when I was about 4 years old. Nothing severe happened to me I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I had had epilepsy for 35 + years. To be more specific, I was diagnosed with partial complex seizures, which my doctor says is not hereditary. My parents and siblings don’t have epilepsy. Somewhere in my brain lies bad tissue that needs to be removed, if possible. The actual cause, according to my doctor is cortical dysplasia.
Q: What made you try the Vagus Nerve Stimulator (vns) to control your seizures and did it work?
A: I tried the vagus nerve stimulator (vns) because I had been going from one medicine to another and no combination of medicine really fully controlled my seizures to allow me to be seizure-free. So my doctor and I thought it was time to try something different and more effective. Since my seizures were interfering with my life, I think I should be able to go ahead and handle the risks and benefits as a child of GOD. Several months after the vns surgery, my doctor and I agreed to take it out which required another surgery. So the vns did not really work for me. All of this took place when I was in my 20’s studying in college.
Q: Did you consider surgery to be an option to control your seizures?
A: Yes, since the cause for my epilepsy is cortical dysplasia and neurosurgery could be an option according to my doctor. The only thing that kept me from going ahead with neurosurgery was courage or whether I have the guts to go ahead with surgery. Since I was born with this disorder, there must be a reason. So, after careful consideration, I decided to be a candidate for neurosurgery. Since I am a Christian, GOD will be with me in everything I go through. No matter how big the risk is, GOD is my savior. So, I finally have enough courage to go through with it. Fortunately, after the surgery, half of the bad tissue was removed and I was able to recover.
Q: You have had epilepsy since you were 4 years old in your home country. What keeps you motivated and inspired after all these years up to now? What kind of obstacles and problems did you have and how did you see it positively?
A: After all this years, after my 2 neuro surgeries, 2 vagus nerve stimulator surgeries (in and out), 2 colonoscopy and 1 back surgery (a total of 7 surgeries), I should have given up in life already especially since I seem to be alone with no real support of friendships and family, what kept me moving forward was the blessings GOD gave me as a Christian. Also, because GOD is my savior, I have the strength to be interested in reading inspirational books by Joyce Meyer and watching Joel Osteen’s television shows inspiring people around the world. Being interested in these two Christian pastors from Missouri and Texas, I did have the opportunity to utilized the knowledge that I acquired to my life journey. Joyce Meyer has written over 100 books to help millions of people with hope and restoration. Some of her book titles are “Never-Give Up”, “The power of determination”, “Living beyond your Feelings” and many more. Having read most of her books, I have the strength to see life in a positive way even though things are not exactly working out for me.
Q: Were you able to live with epilepsy throughout life?
A: Yes, even though I have epilepsy and have no car, most employers and companies seem to see me as different from others, as having no ability to do things. I was able to see the positive sides of negative situations. I also have the chance to join Toastmasters and improve my communication skills. I got my Toastmasters certificate after my 10th speech. In addition to that, I have also written my story on www.epilepsynorcal.org, www.livingwellwithepilepsy.com, and www.seizurefree.webs.com. Besides, having the inspirational knowledge that I have gained by reading Joyce Meyer’s books and watching Joel 0steen’s television speeches, I have also gathered all the songs and music that are motivating to me – song titles such as “Eye of the Tiger”, “No easy way out” and “Believe in Yourself” and much more. Whenever I need motivation, I just listen to those song titles. And afterward, I feel energized.
Q: I heard you had another incidence in 2013-2014. Can you explain?
A: Yes. in the end of 2013, I have a seizure on the subway bus, which caused me to need another surgery. This is a spine surgery and my 8th surgery. But in the hospital, I saw a patient next to me that is in his worst health condition and realized that all that matters to a person is health and safety. Every other thing is just an add-on that GOD has given us. Nothing else matters. Amen.