Aiming To Overcome Through Shared Experiences

Hear from Anusha about how friendship helped her on her epilepsy journey

By Anusha Merchant , Maryland

Child with Epilepsy

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

My name is Anusha Merchant. I am 10 years old and was diagnosed with absence seizures when I was 7. I was pretty excited when my first EEG occurred because I was asked to sleep less the previous night, meaning I could watch more TV than usual. The technician put wires of different colors on my head, but nothing in the EEG hurt at all. The EEG confirmed I had absence seizures, and my excitement ended quickly after the first few doses of anti-seizure medicines.  

When I started getting absence seizures, I didn’t realize it. I used to stop talking in the middle of a conversation or even stop singing when practicing Indian classical music. Once, when I went for a walk with my mom, two girls asked my name, and I couldn’t reply because I was having a seizure. With time, I began to realize when I had a seizure. Sometimes, I lost track of what the teacher was saying in class and would mess up on math sprints, which is one of my favorite things to do. I found I disliked everything about epilepsy and absence seizures: the medicine that tasted like rotten apples, that my parents had to constantly watch me ride my bike, that I had to take medicines in school every day, and kids asking me why I wore sunglasses almost every time I was outdoors. All of this made me feel so embarrassed.   

I learned that my friend Abby, who is my age, used to have seizures. I spoke to her about how I felt, and she understood exactly what I was going through because she had been through it, too. Abby gave me ideas on things to do when I had my 24-hour EEG. Activities like building structures with Lego pieces or shopping online for a few toys made those 24 hours a little easier.  

It felt so special when Abby gifted me one of her favorite books about epilepsy. She even invited me to one of her lemonade stands that she hosted for the Epilepsy Foundation as an Ambassador. I love that Abby recognizes that she used to have seizures, too, and she wants to raise awareness about epilepsy. Abby is brave and very helpful. One night, when I was frustrated and in tears, I Facetimed with Abby, and she patiently listened to me. After that, she put my mind at ease as we talked about school and our activities. 

Before I finished fourth grade, I had my 48-hour EEG. It was such a big milestone for me. I had been waiting for those two days for as long as I could remember because this EEG would determine whether we could stop my medicine. After what seemed like forever, the EEG results came in, and it was normal! Because of this, I finally started decreasing my medication amount. I was in tears because I was so happy that this moment had finally come, and after dinner that day, we went to get chocolate milk with boba, as I was not allowed to have tea. After six weeks, taking my medicines ended. I was overjoyed to be living my life like I was 6 again. 

I am grateful to my best friend, Abby, who is like a sister to me now. I am also grateful to my mom, dad, and younger sister, Anika, for always being there for me and my neurologist for helping me during our visits. 

Abby says that we cannot change the reality that we have seizures, so we face it. I am amazed that Abby faced most obstacles without hesitation but with courage. I hope that through sharing my experiences about my epilepsy journey and friendship with Abby, I can help other children who are going through a similar situation.  

Reviewed By: Sara Wyen

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