My name is Erica Guerrini and I was born in Middletown, Connecticut on August 22, 1977. I had my first seizure when I was six years old and was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of seven.
Between second and sixth grade, I was given many different medications to control my seizures. Some of them made me tired, and I would fall asleep during class, which made me fall behind in my studies. At the end of the fifth grade, my mother was told I was “not invited back” to the private school I was attending since kindergarten. They did not understand and could not handle someone with my disability -- epilepsy. The school staff did not believe that the medication was making me tired, and they were not equipped to offer any accommodations that would help me keep up with my class.
During the same period of time, I was admitted to several hospitals, Connecticut Children’s Medical Hospital (formerly Newington Children’s Hospital) and the Veterans Hospital in New Haven. At this point I was having 25-30 tonic clonic seizures a day and there wasn’t any medication that could stop my seizures. Classmates that stayed overnight at my house called their parents and went home when I had a seizure. I wanted to die!
Finally, with the help of two very compassionate, knowledgeable neurologists, I was given a medication that seemed to control my seizures. And between seventh grade and graduation from high school, I didn’t have seizures as long as I took my medication. However there were many times during that period when I refused to accept the fact that I had epilepsy and refused to take my medication. I even went so far as to dump them all down the sink.
Today I am 32 years old and in spite of having epilepsy. I have made several great accomplishments. I have had the wonderful opportunity to move to and live in Las Vegas. I have lived my dream of working as a hair stylist at a five star, world renowned hotel, the Belagio. And most recently I have become the mother of a healthy, beautiful girl named Brooklynn.
However, I have not been seizure free the entire time. I still face the uncertainty of having an unplanned, unpredicted seizure. There are still times when I have seizures. But luckily, I have wonderful support from my mother and family.
To be honest, I will probably struggle my whole life with epilepsy . But epilepsy does not define me, nor does it control me. I encourage others with epilepsy not to be ashamed and to become involved in the “fight” so that “not another moment lost to seizures” can be a statement that holds true for everyone who has epilepsy.