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It was the summer of 2009. I was entering my first day of freshman year of high school on September 6, 2009. I am from a small town called Medford, New Jersey. I would be attending Shawnee High School with a class of 400 students.
The day before my first day of high school something was off. I couldn’t shake the thought of school. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or focus. I remember staring at my bedroom ceiling until 4:23 A.M. Something about entering high school intimidated me. It intimidated me to a point of no return.
The morning of the first day of school came. But, I woke up at 6:00 P.M. in a hospital bed. Never being more confused in my entire life, I asked my mother, “Where am I? Is it summer?”
She replied, “Nicolette?! Do you remember what happened today...” The look on my mothers face was completely beyond herself. She could tell this was really me. I was finally awake. She calmly explained that I had a seizure in the middle of the Shawnee High School hallway on my way to first period. I have absolutely zero recollection of my first day of freshman year of high school. The only very small portion of that day that I remember is trying to put mascara on my eyes but my hands kept shaking. I kept getting mascara on my eyebrows, I must have wiped it off my face and redone it 30 times. Little did I know, I was seizing.
This was absolutely astounding news to me. I barely knew what a seizure was. I made myself so anxious and nervous that I completely lost control of my brain. I learned how powerful my thoughts were that day.
I spent the next 3 days in the hospital. They ran tests on me, multiple MRIs, EEGs, and anxiety tests administered by psychologists. Multiple psychologists came in and asked me if I was on drugs. And the answer was obviously no. The doctors told me that everyone is entitled to one seizure in their lifetime without it being “epilepsy.” I returned to school 4 days after my seizure. Everyone I knew was so welcoming and I received so much love.
For the next 3 years, the seizure was not mentioned, and I had not experienced an episode again. Until April 14, 2013. I was extremely nervous for a huge math test. If I failed math, that could put me in major academic trouble. I was not a very good student and maintained straight Cs in high school. I had a seizure at my dinner table in front of my whole family. I have a powerful mind. I can shut it down when it feels too much. That week, the doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia diagnosed me with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy. They ran an EEG and noticed I was having over ONE HUNDRED mini staring seizures a day. These are known as absence seizures, and they only last a few seconds.
Take some medication and they will go away is what you’re thinking right? Ha. That took two years. The state took my license away. I was 17 and everyone in my grade was driving, except me. This was such a tease for a 17 year old girl. I couldn’t shake this and fell into a depression.
Next came the trial and error of different medications. My saving grace to this day is Keppra. It keeps me from having grand mal seizures and has very little side effects. I graduated high school and began community college while the trial and error was still going on. Keppra was the only constant medication for me.
I had very little motivation academically, I blamed not studying and doing my homework on my seizures. I was still having mini staring spells. So, it might’ve actually had to do with my little studying. The correct medication was finally figured out by my sophomore year of community college. Ethosuxamide ended all of my staring spells. However, it caused me to throw up. I lost a lot of weight. All I cared about was my license, and I received it again because I was not having seizures.
From my junior year of high school until now, (I am a senior in college) I MUST NAP EVERY SINGLE DAY. If I do not nap, I am in rare form. This is my ultimate side effect of anti convulsants.
Recently, my neurologist took me off my ethosuxamide. She ran an EEG and saw that it was clear of all seizures and staring spells! Dr. Nei of Jefferson Hospial in Philadelphia wanted to do everything she could to make me happy. She noticed I gained a substantial amount of weight.
I am not happy with my body as of now, but my doctor claimed eating more food could help me not have seizures as well. It sounds weird, eating makes me feel safe sometimes. She said this feeling was normal. Once I get to a normal again of exercising more and eating less, I am almost positive I will be able to keep this weight off.
I recently gained motivation in school work because I found something that I love. I love psychology. I am now graduating college at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey this May. I will be getting my Master of Social Work degree in the next two years.
I am thankful for my journey, and I want to help others dealing with epilepsy. I actually run a YouTube channel with many subscribers that I email with and give them any epilepsy advice they may need. I attend the national walk for epilepsy in Washington DC every year! I can not wait to positively influence others' lives in my field of psychology and social work in the future. Lifting the spirits of others is what I am meant to do.