Image: 16-year-old Abby Croxford (supplied)
About halfway through this year I was diagnosed with epilepsy. It came as a shock. It came as a shock even though I had been showing “symptoms” for five years.
I place quotation marks around symptoms because in my mind, my symptoms didn’t conform to the stereotyped symptoms of epilepsy. Like most people, I assumed that when a person with epilepsy experienced a seizure they would fall to the ground, be incapacitated, and foam at the mouth. But, that stereotyped vision isn’t the full story.
When I have a seizure, I experience short-term vagueness and/or intense flickering of the eyes. My eyes can roll back in my head, but I’m not on the floor, convulsing. I was having seizures often, but I never even knew it.
I learned about my seizures because a well-meaning, yet immature acquaintance asked me if I had “eye Tourette’s” (the answer should be self-explanatory). For so long, people avoided mentioning anything to me so I wouldn’t feel embarrassed.
Halfway through this year, I was referred to a neurologist to undertake a series of tests on my brain in relation to my symptoms. I remember sitting in the chair as a technician stuck wires to my head. I asked her why most people undergo these tests. She told me it was for epilepsy. For the first time I noticed a sign on the door promoting a chat room and support space for teenagers who have epilepsy. Not once did it cross my mind that I had it.