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Faces of Epilepsy
Elizabeth LaFlamme-BakerElizabeth is 28 years old and was diagnosed with Epilepsy when she was six and a half years old. Her mother tells her that she was noticing more frequent headaches and “starring episodes.” She and her mother found themselves at UMASS hospital after waiting more than a month to see a neurologist. It was there that she was diagnosed with having petit mal seizures, roughly 150 every day, and there was no known etiology for her Epilepsy.
At the age of 11 she sought treatment from Dr. Anis Racy in Norwich, CT and has been with him ever since. She says she dreads the day he decides to retire. Elizabeth calls herself lucky to have easily found a regimen of medications that have controlled her seizures, as many patients try a number of medications and some are even unable to find one that works.
Elizabeth credits children for having taught her many life lessons about herself. When she was an undergraduate student she attended a health fair and met a representative from the Epilepsy Foundation of Massachusetts. She was invited to work as a counselor at Camp-We-Kan-Tu in 2005 and served in this role for four years. In her first year, she met Meghan who said to her that she “was thankful for having Epilepsy. If not, she would never have been able to meet such great people.” Elizabeth is grateful for having met so many people through the Epilepsy Foundation of Massachusetts and the foundation in Connecticut.
In 2008 Elizabeth’s aunt, on her father’s side of the family, was also diagnosed with Epilepsy. This has answered that question that has lingered on her mind for 23 years…why? She says it felt strange to finally have a reason as well as have someone she could turn to who truly understood what she was feeling.
Elizabeth became a HOPE Mentor for EFCT in 2006 and has been doing presentations ever since. In 2008 she graduated from Northeastern University with a BA in Liberal Studies where she studied American Sign Language. She conducts HOPE presentations in ASL for the Deaf community both in MA and CT and volunteers to interpret various events for the organizations.
Elizabeth obtained her Master’s Degree in Human Services and her National Interpreter Certification in 2010. She currently works as an interpreter in a variety of settings, including education. She credits her parents and husband for having been so supportive of her career and accomplishments. Epilepsy was only a small part of her life but she still fights to beat the stigmas and stereotypes that all patients battle. Elizabeth is committed to showing patients, parents and the community that there truly is ‘hope’.