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Your continued support has made all the difference in my life...Thank you. Jane
Faces of Epilepsy
Dan WalkerThank you for the opportunity to share my lifelong experience with epilepsy. Physical and emotional progress has resulted through dedication and friendship of Yale Neurology and Neurosurgery staff to which I, family and friends are warmly grateful.
One afternoon, at six years of age, I played outside with my brother and a friend. That night I awakened in a hospital bed, my mom sitting next to me. Tests identified epilepsy, and I began my first anti-seizure medication. The prescription ended after two years without seizures of any level.
During my teen years, episodes of confusion occurred perhaps once or twice a month. They were not alarming to my family. However, among classmates and friends who witnessed my occasional lack of attention, I earned the nickname Fogman, a result and reminder of sporadic “mixed up thoughts”.
Full seizures recurred in college, Dilantin was prescribed, yet regular small seizures and Fogman behavior continued. Once I entered the business world, colleagues were unaware of my epilepsy affliction. Seizures occurred often during sleep. Shortly after retiring from a twenty-five year corporate career, a full seizure occurred while driving. Diagnosis identified a brain tumor which had not previously been recognized. My family agreed to the recommended surgery and a temporal lobectomy took place. The tumor that was removed was determined to be benign, a pleasant result of unpleasant steps, and my dilantin prescription continued.
Six months passed seizure free. My self-confidence increased, as did my physical activity. One day in late spring, having worked outside in the sun for hours, a full seizure occurred. Six weeks later, trying to shake a persistent headache on another hot day, I swam alone in Long Island Sound. I awakened ten hours later at YNHH. My brother and friend had seen me from shore, face down and unconscious afloat. They located a boat and rescued me. Resulting hospitalization for testing under sleep deprivation showed seizures. Keppra was prescribed, preventing seizures yet creating irritable behavior. It was replaced by Lamictal, after which seizures have not reoccurred.
“Stay at Home Dad” has been my enlightening responsibility for fifteen years. I am also an active volunteer with Scranton Library in Madison and a St. George Knights of Columbus officer in Guilford. I also attend the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut’s Guilford Support Group. Family and volunteer activity is helpful to others and to me.
Awakening after seizure episodes, recovering from brain surgery and nearly drowning are powerful memories. Yet the pains I endured are no less than those suffered by family and friends during more than fifty years. Incidentally, Fogman confusion still remains a part of my condition. Occasional fading and reduced vocabulary are apparently permanent. I have learned to manage poor memory of names or words; truly bearable with family and friend support.