By: Kerrie Pruitt, on behalf of her son, Joshua Pruitt
At the age of six, Joshua had his first seizure. He had complained of a headache, so I gave him some children’s Tylenol and put him down for a nap. I went to wake him and his eyes were rolled to the side. I kept asking him to move, but he wouldn’t. I didn’t know what was happening. When my husband grabbed him, Joshua went stiff and I called 911.
He was taken to a children’s hospital in Ft. Worth, TX, and quarantined overnight trying to figure out why he had a seizure. After finding nothing, they sent us home. A few days later, Joshua had four grand mal seizure’s back-to-back. We went back to the hospital and he was put on medication for epilepsy. I still had no idea what epilepsy was or how he got it. I just didn’t know anything and felt at a loss.
When Josh was 10, we moved to Florida. We were sent to Wolfson’s Hospital and were given a new neurologist. He hadn’t had any seizures, so the doctor took him off his medication because sometimes kids grow out of them. Joshua then started having dizzy spells. His neurologists told us they had nothing to do with his seizures and for the next 12 years, we did nothing. Joshua had an MRI every 6 months to make sure the spot in his brain was not growing. As time went by, his dizzy spells increased in both numbers and strength. At the age of 19, he had another grand mal. At that time, we were sent to St. Vincent’s and he was put on medication again; we were then sent to Mayo Clinic. After a few months of testing and not getting results with medication, his doctor had answers to where his seizures were coming from. Josh was told he was a good candidate for a Responsive Neuro-stimulator implant.
During this time, I did research to try and find out everything I could about epilepsy. It was so rarely discussed, my husband and I knew nothing and didn’t know where to start. That’s when I got on the internet and found the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida. They gave me so much information on epilepsy and other websites that could possibly help. Joshua was still in college and several people had helped him when he had seizures. There were so many people asking us questions.
Realizing something needed to be done to raise awareness, Joshua had a couple of DIY events at his school. As I would speak to people about Joshua’s situation, I found more and more people not knowing anything about epilepsy or how to help someone that may need help. I, too, felt more needed to be done to raise awareness for epilepsy. That is when my family decided we wanted to host a walk/run event. The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida has helped us in doing that and this year will be our 2nd Annual Seizure Smart Talk 5k Run/Walk.