It was 1974, and I was 17 years old. I was living in my hometown of Chicago that sunny July afternoon. One minute I was standing around talking with my friends, and the next I was in the emergency room of the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics with my foster mother next to me. She told me that I had had a grand mal seizure. That was the day I was diagnosed with epilepsy. So began a battle that I would continue to fight for the rest of my life.
Fast forward to 13 years ago; I had a seizure and ended up bouncing my head off the pavement. The pain in my neck and back was so severe that I couldn’t stand it. So I went to the doctor and was told that I had stage 4 rheumatoid arthritis of the cervical spine and that it would only progress. I was also told that within a year I would be in a wheelchair. But to me this was just another challenge, and I do love a challenge.
I am still not in a wheelchair but on bad days the pain is so severe that I have to lay in bed and pop ibuprofen just to take the edge off. You see, most prescription painkillers lower my seizure threshold, so it’s either have a seizure or deal with chronic pain. So I deal with the pain. But I am determined not to let my conditions define me; I am the only one who can do that. I am Rose, not my conditions. They are not who I am. They are just a part of what makes me unique.
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.