May 8th brings a lot of memories. First, it is my high school BFFs birthday! I love remembering her on that special day. Harper and Meredith share the same middle name. Without Meredith, I would have never met my husband. Without Meredith, I wouldn’t have so many amazing and fun memories from Jr. High and High School. After all of these years, and all of these miles, we still pick up where we left off when we do get together. It is not lost on me how wonderful a friendship like this is. It’s rare. It’s a blessing.
May 8th also brings memories because May 8, 2014 forever changed my life. It started off pretty normal. Our basement was under construction. I was 30 weeks pregnant with Harper. Harper’s room was being created. We were nearing the end of the road. The walls were up. The bathroom was nearing completion. I took the girls outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.
I remember that it was really warm. Scott came home and said he was going to mow. We had a pretty large “yard” since we were on the church property. I was standing down in the grass next to the kiddie slide. Addison was playing on it. I started to feel weird. This happened a lot for me. I just kept breathing through it like I always did. Usually it passed. Occasionally, I reached the point where I felt like I was going to die and would beg God to not take me yet. I really can’t explain the feeling and I know it sounds crazy. My ears would ring. My everything would start to go black. I would feel hot. This time, I didn’t come out of it. The last thing I remember thinking was “God, please. Please help me.” and feeling completely terrified.
The next thing I know, a stranger was in my face. He was asking me if I knew where I was. I kept nodding. He said “Where are you?” and I stared blankly at him. I looked to the side of his face and saw my husband. He looked concerned, but didn’t say a word. Once again, “Do you know where you are?” Yes. “Where are you?” Blank stare. I think he finally asked me if I knew my name, and I told him that I was Ashley.
The next memory I have is being lifted onto a gurney. I was wheeled in between our house and the neighbors house. I saw my little girls playing soccer with the Pastor’s son. They put me into an ambulance. I heard Scott say, “It’s gonna be ok, Ashley.” I had no idea WHAT was going to be ok. My response was “Call my parents.” (what?) They start driving away with me in the back. I tell the paramedic that no one can ever get the veins in my arm, so I ended up with an IV jammed into my hand. Suddenly, it hits me that I am in an ambulance being taken away from my family. WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?!?! “Well, it seems like you may have had a seizure.” Oh, ok. Carry on. “Do you feel the baby moving?” Harper gave me a good thump as the feeling of panic started rising. “Yes.”
It amazes me how little I remembered or cared those first days. I would go from completely carefree, to afraid, to confused, to carefree again. I think the Lord really gave me a blessing in that. Had I realized that what had just happened could have killed Harper or myself, or that my two kids could have been left playing in our yard near the parking lot while their mother lay unconscious, I would have been terrified. Had Scott not just happened to be at home at that time, everything could have ended differently. God’s hand was in it all. It’s impossible to ignore that.
May 9th was the day that all of the news was finally delivered. May 8th was full of a lot of tests. They weren’t sure that it was a seizure, since I didn’t have any known history. EVERYTHING was tested. As the tests results started rolling in, we started getting some answers. My ECHO revealed that I had a patent foramen ovale, which is just a fancy way of saying that there is a hole in between the upper chambers of my heart. There was also an aneurysm there, too. One side was bulging, but it wasn’t anything to be concerned about. Just good to be aware of.
The EEG revealed that I did have an epileptic seizure. All of those “spells” that I had been having over the years were partial seizures– auras. It is scary how many times I was DRIVING while those happened. Once, when Chloe was a baby, I had one while she was in the bathtub. I pulled the stopper so that she wouldn’t drown if I actually passed out.
Because of the results of the EEG, I was no longer allowed to drive for at least 6 months (which turned into 9). I had to have non-stress tests done twice a week and see my OB every week. I had to follow up with a cardiologist and neurologist. I had to start taking two huge pills two times a day, every day, for the rest of my life.
It is just amazing how one day can change the rest of your life. One morning, I was in a normal pregnancy feeling exhausted and ready to meet my baby. The next, I am told that I have a disease with no cure.
Here I am FOUR years later. I haven’t had any problems. That day really rocked my world, and I still feel the effects of it. When I get dizzy, I start to feel panicked. Now that I know what can come from those spells, it is scary. But, I am so incredibly thankful. I am here. Harper is here and healthy. So many people with epilepsy never get the chance to even drive. Many people die from epilepsy, or SUDEP. Every day is a gift. Never take it for granted.