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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Have Epilepsy, But I Have So Much More—by Karla Whitmore

I found the following story on Julie Arduini’s blog and begged both Julie and Karla to allow me to reprint it here. They agreed. It is a brilliant reminder of what is most important.

I Have Epilepsy, But I Have So Much More

When I woke up on Thursday morning , I felt amazingly good. This was in stark contrast to the way I had felt every morning for the three weeks before.

Some back story is in order.

In the early morning of December 6, 2011, my husband, son, and I experienced a grand mal seizure.

The next part comes from Donnie and Max, as I was unaware and have no recall:

My husband woke up to an unnatural scream and rolled over to see my body jerking and spasming. His first thought was that I was having another nightmare, so he shook me.

“Honey, wake up. Wake up. Honey? Wake up!!!”

His eyes adjusted to the darkness and he saw my face. My eyes were rolled back in my head and there was blood and spit coming from my mouth.

He thought I was dying. He yelled to Max to dial 911 and cradled me, stroked my hair, told me he loved me and I would be alright.

Max gave the phone to his father so he could receive instructions from the dispatcher, but stepped back out — too shocked and overwhelmed to get too close. His mother appeared to be dying and his dad was in despair. He ran outside to direct the ambulance.

It took them two or three minutes to get here (and I used to complain about living around the corner from their headquarters… no more).

At this time, I was in a deep sleep and was still unwakeable. They set to work checking my vitals. I was combative, but thankfully weak. I kept telling the EMT’s they were not supposed to be here and insisting that they “go away”.

My first recall:

I woke up in a euphoric state. It seemed as though I were sleeping in a cottony cloud, but my husband was standing on my side of the bed and holding my hand. I looked up at him and he said, “Honey, you had a seizure. The paramedics are here and we’re taking you to St. Joseph’s.” I noted the information, but did not fully process it.

I next recall standing in the living room, supported by two paramedics.

“Wait. You’ll need your coat. Unless you are a registered mPolar Bear Canadaember of the Polar Bear Club????”

I laughed. “Nope. Not a fan of the cold…”

And then I was in the ambulance and the nice man with the sense of humor was sitting beside me.

“My husband…”

“He’s up front with the driver.”

“My tongue hurts.”

“Well, you did a real number on it, that’s for sure! Don’t worry. Tongues heal fast.”

He patted my hand. “You’re going to be fine.”

Over the next several days, I experienced several partial seizures, but only one more grand mal. I was standing between the television and the coffee table. I woke up on the floor. I had bitten my tongue again and my hip was sore, but again, I felt strangely euphoric — as though it wasn’t quite real.

The auras and partial seizures happened two to three times a day and always left me exhausted and achy. The medicine slurred my speech and impaired my balance. The third dose of the day left me walking and talking like a drunk. It was not a “happy” buzz, and I was still having seizures. I began looking for ways to treat myself naturally. My goal has been to get off the medication.

My appetite was barely there and food does not have much taste, so it has been that much easier to eat with vitamins and minerals in mind. Sugar was toxic to my tongue — it burned too much to eat it. I can eat sweets comfortably now, but they have lost their appeal. I eat when I’m hungry, but am satisfied with much less. Yup. Been losing more weight. clip_image001

Each day was a struggle. I went through denial, fear, and anger. My doctor told me that my chosen career is not compatible with my epilepsy. The point was driven home with every seizure.

BUT – I have never felt more certain of God’s presence in my life. He has held me in his arms through all of it, and I find myself thanking and praising Him continuously.

On December 29th, I woke up free of the constant headache and oriented in reality. While I had been fearful of making the journey to my appointment at the health clinic all by myself, I barely gave it a thought as I got ready and walked to the bus stop.

It struck me as strange that I was the only person at the bus stop. Even stranger when I got on the bus. I was the only rider.

Stop after stop… no new passengers. Finally, the driver pulled over at a bus stop just south of 22nd street. I assumed he was killing some time as the bus was ahead of schedule, but he turned off the bus and turned around.

“Ma’am, do you mind if I run in and get myself something to eat?”

Why not go with the flow? I had plenty of time and did not see a reason to complain.

“Nope. Go right ahead. I’m not in a hurry.”

He stepped off the bus and then realized he had forgotten his wallet, so climbed back on and started the bus up again. It refused to change gears. He tried over and over — but the bus was not budging. He called it in and then turned around again.

“I’m so sorry! They are sending another bus. It will be here in a few minutes. I hope this doesn’t put you behind?”

I was not worried. I asked if I had time to run into the convenience store for a bottle of water.

“Sure. If they get here while you’re gone, I’ll make ‘em wait.” He winked.

I was two steps away when a thought struck me. That driver did not just want something to eat. He needed it. I turned back and asked him what kind of food they sold in there.

croissanwichHe told me they had the best tuna croissanwiches.

When I came back and handed him the sandwich, tears came to his eyes. He thanked me and took little time eating it.

“Sir, are you diabetic?”

His eyes widened. “How did you know?”

“Well… do you believe in God?”

His mouth dropped and his voice shook.

“Are you an angel?????!!!!!”

I believe he fully expected a halo to appear around my head. It was precious.

I laughed. “Definitely not. Only human.”

“Bless you, lady. Bless you. While I’m feeling lucky, why don’t we try this again?”

This time, it went into gear. He called dispatch. They were still waiting on a driver, but it did not matter anymore.

We continued and I remained the only passenger all the way to my stop. Let me stress: HIGHLY unusual.

I thanked him. He thanked me. We wished each other a happy new year, and I got off the bus. I looked at my watch. I had time to walk the rest of the way.

On the way home:

I was sitting on the bench, waiting for the bus, when a young man walked up, carrying a gorgeous, smiley baby. I thought of how young he was to have a child, but was too caught up with playing and talking to his son to give it much thought. Then I realized he was studying me. I looked him in the eyes.

He asked, “Do you remember me?”

I told him that he did look familiar, but I was sorry that I couldn’t place him.

“Two years ago, I was walking home from a night class, and I was thirsty. I went into the 7 Eleven and asked for a glass of water, but the guy wouldn’t give me one…”

I remembered him. I was walking down the street with Don when a boy of 14 or 15 came out of the convenience store and asked if we had some water. He said the cashier in the store would not give him a drink. (It is ILLEGAL for stores to refuse people water in Tucson, by the way — and for good reason)

I told him to wait right there. I had gotten my back up (as my fatbottled waterher would have said), so Don and I went inside. We bought three bottles of water. As soon as we had paid for it, I looked the cashier directly in the eyes.

“I don’t know how long you have lived in Tucson, but not only is it illegal to refuse someone water, it is just plain WRONG.”

The young man thanked us and introduced himself. He walked along with us and chatted for a while, before realizing how late it was and running off. Don and I remarked to each other that he could be a future Olympian. That kid was FAST.

I could not believe Biblehe remembered me so clearly.

He smiled.

“I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” He laughed. “Hey, that’s in the Holy Word!”

I tingled from head to toe, but had no fear that it was a seizure coming on. Peace and love surrounded me. It remained so all the way home and throughout the day.

God doesn’t care about the past that he has forgiven me for. He doesn’t care that I am not perfect. He doesn’t even care that I am very much a work in progress.

One of my favorite hymns has run through my mind ever since.

It is well with my soul.

I FEEL blessed. It is God that blesses me. In spite of epilepsy, in spite of continuing seizures (though they are much fewer), in spite of EVERYTHING, I have peace. I don’t know what my future holds, but I have the peace that everything is going to be okay.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Matthew 25: 34-40 KJV

Karla Whitmore, Healthful Hearth
Written and shared with my Facebook Friends in January of 2012. Since then, my life has been much different than I had planned. I was going to be a web developer — make 75K a year, be financially comfortable… but apparently, God has seen fit to put a stop to that. My life and my career is in God’s hands. Now I am back to freelance writing and independent pursuits. Through my research into natural treatments for my epilepsy, I have been inspired to start my own natural remedies blog. I truly believe that God has given us what we need to survive and sustain our health, both through the living things He has created and the loving grace He bestows on the souls of all who believe.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Broken, Healed, Forgiven—by Gregg Stein

Who Are You to God?

The Great and the Small, Part 1—The Button Lady


  1. Karen, what a truly uplifting story. Thanks so much for sharing this with the public. Thanks too for the reminder that God loves me, even as you, that I'm a work in progress... and that He always knows what is best for us.

  2. Ooops--so sorry, Karla about addressing you as Karen. Please forgive.