I grew up in a one income family situation. When I was 9 years old, my dad was forced to go on disability shortly after having triple bypass surgery. At the same time, he was put on the wait list for a heart transplant. As if that wasn’t enough, he was also a diabetic and was put on the list for experimental pancreas transplant because he was starting to show immunity to insulin.
My mom had to work 6 -7 days a week to make ends meet for our family (in addition to myself, I had a 6-year old sister and a 2-year old brother). My dad was hospitalized a lot. And with my mom working so much, my siblings and I were often left to our own devices. We did have a babysitter while my sister and I were in school so our baby brother was not left alone but when we came home I took over.
I was the one who made sure homework was done, dinner was made, dishes were washed, everyone had their baths, and I would tuck my younger siblings into bed and read them a bed time story.
While I was doing this I was also having issues with school. I got my home work done but I had more and more trouble staying awake in class. I never understood why. It was embarrassing and it felt so rude but I just couldn’t stay awake. When asked by my parents or my teachers, I had no explanation for what was going on. I loved to read, especially literature and history.
By 3rd grade I was struggling with school. I was often sent to the principal. My teacher did not know how to deal with me. Instead of giving me the support I needed, I was given “In School Suspension” for “disrupting” the class. Soon I wasn’t allowed to participate in recess. I didn’t really learn much that year.
Over the years I continued to have issues with class but my teachers weren’t as cruel as my 3rd grade teacher. They offered after after school tutoring and weekend tutoring. My parents took me to a psychologist and I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and was put on Ritalin.
I seemed to be doing better grade wise but my teachers were putting extra care into my learning. Looking back now, it’s hard to say if it was the teacher support or the medication that was helping. My mom did research on Ritalin and decided to take me off of it.
When I went middle school I started having issues in school again. My Dad had me going to tutoring sessions along with seeing the psychologist again. This time I was put on Adderall. My mom wasn’t too happy with this. She didn’t want to have a daughter who was medicated. Our relationship deteriorated quite a bit.
During this time, my mom was still working all the time and I was forced to take on a parenting role with my siblings. I went to parent night at their school if Dad was hospitalized; I went to school plays and pageants.
It wasn’t until I was 15 we discovered out why I had been having so many issues in school. My Dad came to my room and asked me to do some chores when my homework was finished. I said “okay” and got up, took few steps and blacked out. I woke up on the floor curled in a ball. I looked up dazed. My Dad was standing over me asking me if I was okay. I nodded and managed slur, “What happened?” He said I had a seizure. My dad knew what was happening when I hit the floor because his mom had seizures after she suffered a head injury.
After that I started to get treatment for my epilepsy. I was nervous at first with all the testing. I had MRI’s, EEG’s, and constant blood testing after being put on seizure medicine. My first neurologist was hours away from home. The first drug the doctor tried for me was Trileptal. When it didn’t work we tried Depakote, which helped with seizure control but really upset my stomach. But I suffered through the discomfort until I turned 18 and changed doctors.
My new doctor was wonderful! She had better bedside manner and made her patients feel at ease when she explained something. Unfortunately, she closed her practice due to her own health issues. I ended up having to change specialists a number of times.
In school, I was in an alternative programming stream, which proved to be a wonderful experience for me. I would not have finished high school if not for the small classes and one on one time with my teachers. I finished high school through Project Future at Disney World.
In December of 2005 I received my Diploma from Saint Cloud High School and attended Valencia College for a few years while still working and taking care of my brother and sister while they finished middle and high school. But my Dad’s health was getting worse and eventually I had pull out of my college program as the tuition money was needed for my dad’s medical expenses.
My Dad’s final months were painful. I went to all his doctors’ appointments with him. He passed away on August 17th,2010.
The stress made it hard for me to function but my friend, Sean went into the Air Force around the time Dad died and his letters brightened my day. We used to talk until odd hours of morning and when he was in boot camp we wrote to each other and he would fly to Florida to see me. He really knew how to charm a lady.
We eventually got engaged. I was looking at ways to move to where he was stationed. I was going to transfer there and I was going to change my major to something I could do online.
Unfortunately the relationship didn’t last. My health declined with the emotional stress of the break up. My epilepsy flared with vengeance and could have killed me. My motor skills suffered for it but I am alive. On August 2nd,2013 I lost my job. I have been without insurance for almost year. I had a seizure the other day and was incontinent for the first time. I hope my disability benefits kick in. I’ve survived this long but I need my treatment updated. Thank you for reading.