by Dan Dougherty
Have you ever lost your car keys and were faced with the prospect of not knowing how to get to work, school or meeting a friend for lunch? How did you feel? Since I was diagnosed with uncontrolled epilepsy thirty (30) years ago, I have dealt with this limitation on a daily basis.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes sudden unexpected electrical charges to the brain, resulting in what is commonly known as a seizure. It doesn’t “get the press” that it is due and, therefore, you may be surprised to learn that, in the United States alone, there are three (3) million (almost 2 out of 100) reported cases. To put it into context, that is more than the total number of people suffering from Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) combined!
Throughout the ages, up to the early twentieth century, individuals suffering from this disorder were treated as if they were possessed by the devil or were mentally challenged and placed in an asylum for the rest of their natural lives. For many years, because of this stigma, many people would be too embarrassed to admit that they had epilepsy.
Thanks to modern technology, we have moved beyond the fears and superstitions of the past. Doctors can locate and identify injured portions of the brain that cause seizures and develop an appropriate treatment plan. A majority of people with epilepsy have brought their seizures under control with medication and live relatively normal lives.
Thanks to my faith and the loving support of my family, I have met the challenges and accepted this cross God has given me as a gift to speak openly, as an advocate, about the limitations that come with epilepsy. I am reminded of those hopeful words: “When God closes a door, He always opens a window”.