Written by Heather Kidd

Hi, my name is Heather, and I would like to take you on a journey through my life with epilepsy. Yes, I have epilepsy but it doesn’t have me.

I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 12 years old. My parents back then didn’t know much about epilepsy. We are so blessed to have the Epilepsy Foundation to give out information that was not available at that time.

My teenage years were full of trying different medications, but not much helped or changed. I’m so grateful I have a father that showed me how to be independent, and not let epilepsy limit me, and a mother who helped me become compassionate and want to help others.

My life changed when I went to the Epilepsy Foundation. I attended the support groups, and participated in the employment program. I then realized I was not alone.

One of the things that helped my seizure control was the VNS device or vagal nerve stimulator. It’s a small implant that goes in your chest wall area, and has wire leads that coil around your vagus nerve. It works like a pacemaker, and sends electrical impulses to the brain to help stop seizures. I decided to have the surgery, and in a short period of time I no longer had seizures that had me exhausted afterwards. I was also able to lower my medication as well. I then felt like I had more control over my life. A friend told me “it looked like I woke up.”

I enjoy being an advocate for epilepsy awareness. I was able to share my story about having epilepsy at a walk the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas had. I never thought I would be able to speak in front of a group of roughly three hundred people. That showed me I could do anything I put my mind to. Never underestimate what you are capable of.

The one thing I really enjoy is writing. I write article about epilepsy, or health issues so everyone will be able to relate somehow. My credit union lets me write in their newsletter each November. I title it “November is Epilepsy Awareness Month”. I always include educational information about epilepsy, along with my personal story. Now if I’m not doing that, you might find me at a walk the Epilepsy Foundation of America has or trying to find a way to get items for a gala to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation.

I would never be able to do the things I enjoy so much without the support of others. That would be from my mom who always gives me suggestions for articles to write. My father who bought my computer I write articles on, or my sister who always listens to me when I share what I want to do next. You might even find the support you need when you open up your computer. You will find social media will be there for you. Facebook can connect you to someone who might live down the street or on the other side of the globe. You will find that you are never alone.

Ilana Bitton

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