My struggles with Epilepsy began unexpectedly at the age of 14. My first grand mal seizure occurred in the early hours of what would have been the day of my 10th dance recital. It was scary and exhausting. 

Soon after the diagnosis began several years of trials and many difficult days. Finding and adjusting to the right medication was no easy feat. Headaches, various types of seizures, sleepless nights, moments of “fogginess” and a slew of other symptoms seemed to control my life. My love for dance was put on the back burner and I watched while my friends began making plans for college. I couldn’t think about long term goals. Getting through each day was a journey.

It was after graduating from high school that I was introduced to the Epilepsy Florida. I started attending monthly support meetings and was assigned a counselor. She directed me to a medication assistance program that was very helpful. During that time I did not have insurance and it was difficult paying the medical costs. I thankfully no longer had major seizures but fatigue and other issues that my neurologist attributed to medication side effects continued to interrupt my life. I participated in the Walk for Epilepsy and it became an event that my family and friends would look forward to each year. 

It has been almost 20 years since my first seizure. I have changed medications several times due to side effects including hair loss, tremors, weight fluctuations, exhaustion and my current medication is very costly. The big picture is bright though. I became a licensed CNA and have a career that I love as an in-home senior caregiver and house manager. It allows me flexibility when I have those difficult days and I empathize with my clients as they struggle with their personal issues. As I look back over the struggles that I have overcome I feel grateful for the support of the Epilepsy Foundation and those close to me. I will continue to be involved to help raise awareness for those of us with this difficult disease. 

Samantha Rodriguez

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