Amanda Abbott is an information and referral specialist at the Epilepsy Foundation. In honor of the 10th anniversary of the National Walk for Epilepsy, she talks about her life with epilepsy and how she and her family found help and hope after at the Epilepsy Foundation after attending the Walk in 2008.
My name is Amanda Abbott and I’m one of the nearly 3 million Americans living with epilepsy. I’m a 23-year-old recent college graduate from Fauquier County, Virginia. I was diagnosed with epilepsy in the second grade after having my first grand-mal seizure on the playground. Since then I’ve had more than 200 partial-complex seizures in my lifetime.
Epilepsy has created many challenges for me.
My seizures are uncontrolled, despite medication and a medical diet. Some of the things that trigger my seizures are heat, exercise, lack of sleep, high-carbohydrate foods, and stress. Over the years I’ve tried six different medications but most them stop being effective after a few years or have mood altering side-effects, such as anxiety and depression that impact my quality of life. Aside from the difficulty of finding a sustainable medication, the seizures themselves create enormous challenges.
My seizures can take place anytime, anywhere without warning. The unpredictable nature of seizures limits my ability to participate in normal activities. When my seizures occur, I become unconscious and wake up with a debilitating migraine. After 17 years of seizures my cognitive skills and memory have been greatly affected. Throughout school I often missed classes due to seizures and hospital visits. When I was able to make it to class I had difficulty processing and remembering the material.
The challenges that epilepsy creates have not only affected me but have also affected my family. I’m blessed to have parents who love and support me. However, every time they see a seizure, they cry as if it’s day one of my life with epilepsy. They’ve always had to worry if their daughter is going to be able live alone, have children, and hold a steady job without seizures creating complications. Luckily, my family and I found the Epilepsy Foundation of America in 2008 and our lives were never the same.
Finding Help and Hope at the Epilepsy Foundation
The Epilepsy Foundation plays a big role in how I’ve managed to stay happy and healthy, despite epilepsy. When I attended their National Walk for Epilepsy in 2008, it was the first time I’d ever met another person with epilepsy or realized that there was hope for my disorder.
Since then, the Epilepsy Foundation has been providing me with resources that improve my life. I’ve turned to their website (epilepsy.com) for information about medications, doctors, and ways to connect with other people living with epilepsy.
The Epilepsy Foundation has restored hope and strength in me by providing an avenue to raise funds, spread awareness, and search for a cure. I’m so thankful the Epilepsy Foundation has been part of my journey, and I know they’ll be an ally of mine for the rest of my life.
The National Walk for Epilepsy is the preeminent event where the epilepsy community comes together to show the world the importance of raising awareness about epilepsy while raising funds to support new therapies research and services for people impacted by seizures. Join us on April 16, 2106, in Washington, D.C., as together we dare to make a difference in the lives of people of epilepsy. Register today at www.walkforepilepsy.org.