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Teresa’s Story (Epilepsy)

I had my first seizure when I was home from college for my father’s funeral. My mom was out, and I went to hop in the shower…and that’s the last thing I remember. I woke up eight weeks later in a burn unit! I was 27, in prime vanity years. I was thriving. This one night took my scholarship, my job, my healthcare (in preexisting conditions era) and left me empty.

I STRUGGLED to survive for the next 14 years. Everyone I thought would be in my corner abandoned or bullied me – calling me everything from a fake to a retard. My mom was my ONLY advocate. When she passed, suddenly and in my arms, my world crumbled.

My seizures went crazy. I was having 12 or more of them a day! Before this point, I was working up to 3 jobs at times with her support and my determination. I suddenly wanted no more of anything. I attempted suicide and after returning to work, a very loyal customer stopped in and I had a seizure in front of him. A few days later, he called me because his father just had an amazing experience at the Mayo Clinic; and he asked his dad’s doctor to give me a referral to their neurology department. He even drove me there and was with me when after 14 years of HELL, the doctor told me in the first hour what was wrong with me, and how they were going to fix me!

I had a brain tumor! They did a lot of tests to help ensure a positive outcome. I’m right-handed, definitely left brain dominant and I had a left temporal lobe tumor! Three months later, I had brain surgery. I had significant impairments to my speech & cognitive communication skills; but I survived thanks to the Mayo Clinic and the continued support of this customer. I had no one else.

As I recovered, he graduated law school, took a cruise with his wife (his graduation gift). After 13 weeks of recovery, I was cleared to return to work. When I turned in my forms, I was TERMINATED instead! This corporation recruited me, knowing I had Epilepsy. I thrived there for 8 years, never missing a day of work; and now making my disability go away I was let go. When my new lawyer/customer found out, we filed a lawsuit. The employee handbook stated I could take 12 weeks short term disability, but in my state, I could not return to work without my surgeon’s approval and he could not see me until week 13. So, while my physical health was well on its way to healing, the rest of my life once again was failing apart! Many, many months of speech therapy, a lawsuit, a job/career change followed. This customer was there assisting me the entire time. It was unbelievable that a near stranger was my Guardian Angel.

This June will mark 15 years since surgery. I survived losing a job and a loved one. I went into the healthcare field as a necessity, but also, I feel as MY way to PAY IT FORWARD. I would NOT be alive today if it were not for that selfless act of my customer and the AMAZING neurology department at the Mayo Clinic!!🤕🧠💜💜🙏

Submitted 04/23/2020

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.

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