Single mother of three struck by seizures
Posted on Thu, Dec. 20, 2012
Single mother of three struck by seizures
By Michael Vasquez
Tonya Youngblood, center, and two of her three children, Monica, 13, left, holding her kitty, Tony, and Mariah, 12, right, in their apartment, in Fort Lauderdale. Youngblood is struggling with epilepsy, which has left her unable to work. She is asking readers for clothes, shoes, and bicycles.
It was a few years ago that Tonya Youngblood’s series of personal trials began. Youngblood’s mother suffered a stroke, followed by another and then a third.
That third stroke proved deadly, and then Youngblood’s own health took a surprising — and completely disruptive — turn. She was struck by epilepsy.
These days, the 37-year-old single mother of three is unable to work or even drive a car. Little by little, the condition stole Youngblood’s ability to be independent and self-sufficient — the simple task of grocery shopping requires the supervision of a family member or friend.
Still, Youngblood is thankful, as the family just narrowly avoided homelessness earlier in the year. From Wish Book readers, Youngblood is requesting clothes, shoes and bicycles for her three children, ages 12,13 and 18.
“I barely have enough income to take care of the bills,” said Youngblood, who receives federal disability assistance and lives with her children in a modest Fort Lauderdale apartment.
It was while working as a highway maintenance employee with the Florida Department of Transportation — a job she held for five years — that the first epilepsy seizure struck Youngblood several years ago.
Co-workers “said I was acting weird, I was talking funny,” Youngblood recalled. An ambulance whisked Youngblood to Fort Lauderdale’s Holy Cross Hospital.
As a hospital intake worker jotted down Youngblood’s personal information, it became clear something was seriously wrong. The worker asked Youngblood for her Social Security number, and for the first time in her adult life, Youngblood couldn’t remember it.
From there, an epilepsy diagnosis soon followed, though Youngblood said she was slow to accept it. She began taking the prescribed medications, but then stopped. She searched for second and third opinions, only to be given the same frustrating answer.
“I guess I didn’t want to believe it,” Youngblood said.
Attempts to hold onto her previous life proved futile. The Department of Transportation kept Youngblood on as an employee for a while, but ultimately dismissed her after the seizures kept recurring. Youngblood’s episodes were so intense that she would sometimes bite or hit those around her.
A subsequent job as a hair stylist was short-lived, as Youngblood said the seizures continued to happen at work and she would become “combative” when onlookers tried to nudge her into a chair until the seizure subsided.
Initially, doctors told Youngblood she could keep driving, but two seizure-related car accidents — including one where Youngblood’s black Nissan Pathfinder plowed through a concrete wall — led her to abandon getting behind the wheel. In both accidents, Youngblood’s middle-school aged daughters were also in the car, though thankfully no one sustained serious injuries in either crash.
With no car and no income, Youngblood soon fell behind on rent, and the family was evicted from their apartment. The family lived with Youngblood’s sister for some months, but eventually that sister’s boyfriend grew tired of the arrangement. Youngblood and her children had to go.
This past summer, the family bounced around, staying in various motel rooms, scraping by one day at a time. Youngblood relied on the generosity of others to keep afloat — a parent at her daughter’s school, for example, pitched in and paid for three nights at a motel.
“She had to end up pawning some of her jewelry...just to keep her and her children off the streets,” said Rachel Bilton, a case manager with the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, which nominated Youngblood for this year’s Wish Book.
Now that Youngblood is receiving disability assistance — and is taking a new medication — her situation has stabilized somewhat. Seizures are less frequent, and Youngblood’s children, thanking to training offered by the foundation, are now well-versed in how to respond when a seizure does occur.
“Not put stuff by her mouth, don’t touch her,” said daughter Monica, 13. “Take sharp objects out of her hands.”
Though the family’s finances are tight, Youngblood is appreciative of having a roof over everyone’s head and hopeful about the future.
“It’s better now,” Youngblood said. “I just want to be able to keep it and maintain it.”
Family Fun at Annual Epilepsy Fundraiser
By Stacey Bomser
“Get Moving with Gabby” was the theme of the Silverstein family’s annual fundraiser to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida. They started the tradition three years ago after their daughter, Gabby, was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is not a disease, but rather a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. One in three Americans is living with epilepsy. There is no cure, but Gabby and her family are hoping to change that. Each November, in honor of Epilepsy Awareness Month, they host a fundraiser. This year’s event raised over $1500. The fun-filled day featured Kidokinetics entertaining kids with organized sports, music by DJ Jason Bank of Jammin Express, a bounce house, face painting and much more. Gabby, a second grader at Gator Run Elementary School, says she felt special seeing so many people supporting her and this cause. “I think it’s important because the money raised will help find a cure for epilepsy, so maybe I won’t have it anymore and I won’t have to take medicine everyday.” The fundraiser is truly a family affair. Gabby’s brother, Wesley, collected raffle prizes. This was his mitzvah project for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah.
The event is not the only way Gabby is raising awareness about epilepsy. For the second year, she was a guest on Radio Disney. She also sells purple bracelets printed with the message: “Gabby Gives 4 Epilepsy.” The bracelets sell for $2 each. Gabby donates the money to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital where she was a patient. You can help Gabby in her efforts to find a cure for epilepsy by purchasing a bracelet or making a donation through her Gabby Gives 4 Epilepsy facebook page.
Gentle Dental Group Encourages South Floridians to support the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida During Epilepsy Awareness Month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
BOCA RATON, FLORIDA - Oct 31, 2012
As a proud sponsor of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, Gentle Dental encourages everyone to learn more about this condition that affects so many South Floridians and to get involved. Together we can make a difference.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida has two local events planned in celebration of national November Epilepsy Awareness Month. The first is a family friendly party at the Palm Beach Zoo (1301 Summit Blvd., West Palm Beach) on Friday, November 2, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. There will be food, drinks, live music, animal encounters, activities for the kids, raffles and more. The second in the annual "Let's Talk About It" friends and family Thanksgiving style dinner with turkey and all the fixings on Friday, November 9, from 6:00 - 10:00 pm at the Sunrise Civic Center (10610 W Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise). This will be an exciting evening of education, food, dancing and fun. Further information on these and other events can be found on the Foundation website: www.EpilepsyFLA.org. or call 877-553-7453.
About Epilepsy Foundation of Florida
Established in 1971 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3), and celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year, EFOF serves as the lead advocate for the rights and needs of people with epilepsy and seizure disorders at the local, county and state level. EFOF provides valuable services, regardless of financial situation, to individuals and their families including advocacy, case management, information, referral, support, medical services, neuropsychological services, prevention and education, individual and family counseling, research, resource materials, support groups, and children's camp.
About Gentle Dental
Founded in 1997 and having treated over 430,000 patients, Gentle Dental is the leading provider of dental health services in South Florida. Gentle Dental has 21 convenient locations throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast, providing Cosmetic Dentistry services, Preventative Dental Treatments, General and Reconstructive Dentistry and Specialty Dentistry. With the motto, "All Dentistry...One Place", the Gentle Dental team is equipped to serve all of your dental needs or wants - under one roof - whether you're looking for general or cosmetic dentistry specialists such as orthodontists, oral surgeons, endodontists, pediatric, periodontists or prosthodontists.
Call Gentle Dental toll-free at 1-877-343-3253 or visit Gentle Dental online at http://www.GentleDentalGroup.com, and follow us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/GentleDentalFL) and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/MyGentleDental).
ETP and EF Announce Merger to Create New National Organization
PRESS RELEASE: October 4, 2012
Day At The Zoo: Town Employee’s Son Helps Promote Epilepsy Fundraiser
By Jane Fetterly (originally published on PalmBeachDailyNews)
“My son Jackson, 7, is excited to one of the faces for the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida,” said Christine Cunningham, lead telecommunications supervisor for the town.
Jackson was diagnosed with the disorder in 2010. Cunningham said she would like to raise awareness about epilepsy and seizure disorders. Each year, it is estimated 45,000 children are diagnosed with epilepsy.
“Not everyone with epilepsy falls to the ground during a seizure,” she added.
Jackson, wearing a purple shirt, is pictured in a poster advertising a day at the Palm Beach Zoo to kick off November as Epilepsy Awareness Month.
The zoo event, from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 2, will feature music, finger foods, animal encounters, prizes, a silent auction and more. Tickets are $50 per adult (includes one child free) and $10 for each additional child. Tickets can be purchased at www.EpilepsyFla.org. The event will raise money to support programs for children and youth.