February 27, 2019
Danielle Petree | Faces of Epilepsy
On February 21st 2018, my life changed forever, I had my first seizure. I was helping a friend hold her project together, while she welded it for our metals sculpture class at the University of Florida. The next thing I remember is my friend saying, “Danielle it’s ok, your Mom is here.” There were paramedics around me; they asked me my name and what year it was. Unfortunately, I got the year wrong, but not by much I had said 2017. I was confused and scared. They were asking me all kinds of questions, I had hit my head on a steel table that was behind me when I fell unconscious and landed on the concrete floor in the welding shop. They asked if I normally have seizures, which my answer was, no. They then said they were going to take me to the hospital for further testing. At the age of 24, I was diagnosed with epilepsy out of the blue, nothing triggered it. Doctors said its focal cortical dysplasia that I probably had from birth.
In hindsight I was having auras and seizures about 3-4 months prior to February 21, 2018. I was unaware of what was happening to me. I was uneducated to what an aura was and a seizure. My life has changed since my diagnosis. One obstacle I have to hurdle since the diagnosis is I can’t drive, which is problematic because I live outside of Gainesville in a rural area that has no public transportation.
Since my diagnosis I was feeling depressed, isolated and defeated. That’s when my family suggested reaching out to Epilepsy Florida here in Gainesville to find support and resource. So I started going to the support meetings. It was in that first meeting I was given information about opportunities and resources in Gainesville. I also was reassured that there are others like me out there, and I am not the only one living with epilepsy. In our history, being epileptic was a taboo thing and people were not to talk about it. This needs to change… we are in the 21st century.