By: Aimee Young
Alaina Young is my teenage daughter who just happens to have epilepsy. Like many others, my husband and I began to notice unusual symptoms in elementary school. Alaina was eight, and would have times during school that she would just “space out” and lose a few minutes of a lesson. Fast forward to middle school. More symptoms more often. Weeks before her first appointment, I was awoken by Gary screaming across the house to call 911. Alaina was having her first grand mal. Thanks to the Epilepsy Foundation’s website, I knew what was going on and to record the seizure with my cell phone. Now we had some concrete proof. This first seizure was only two days after her 13th birthday.
In meeting with our neurologist, Dr. Abrams, we explained her history and discussed our concerns regarding her skating. Alaina has been playing junior roller derby since she was 10. I remember him just lifting his eyebrows in disbelief. He basically told us to let her live her life as she’s been doing and wait to see if she has another seizure. Four months later, another grand mal right before an out-of-state derby tournament. This time she needed to start medicine. We were all so scared about the side effects and how it would affect her. Amazingly, she did fine and Dr. Abrams just gave us a nod in regards to her skating and in a few months he upped her dosage a bit too.
This April, however, she thought she didn’t “need” her medicine anymore and guess what – BOOM!!! Lesson learned. You have epilepsy. That seizure was really humbling for her. It made her realize that she does need to take her medicine and listen to her body. Back when she was first diagnosed, we kept it quiet from everyone, except family. We felt scared that if we told people she wouldn’t be invited to any more parties or sleepovers. We didn’t want her life to change any more than it had already. Funny thing, the more people we tell and more questions we get to answer. Most people don’t know much about epilepsy and are surprisingly open when we explain how Alaina deals with it. The responses have been nothing but positive. No more hiding her condition for this family.
We are very proud of her and her accomplishments. I know how very lucky she is to be able to compete in sports because epilepsy affects people in so many ways. I hope that she will inspire others to live their life and try to follow their dreams just like she has. Alaina currently plays for Jacksonville Junior Roller Derby and was selected to be part of a team that represents the South/South-East region of the United States in the AAU Junior Olympics in Nebraska. JJRD is currently ranked 8th in the nation and her Olympic team won bronze. We are so proud of her!