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“Can I have a ride?” Feels Awful at 20.

For the last 20 years, I have been a completely healthy and active person. I’ve been dancing since the age of three, I teach dance classes at work, often go to the gym with friends and eat as healthy as possible. Because of this, you can imagine my surprise when I had a seizure on the first day of my spring break. After spending an entire day in the emergency room, feeling like a lab rat, I went home with no answers. Labs, blood work, and scans were clear. This was all supposed to be good news.

When reaching out for advice on social media, many with the same experience said to expect the trend of no answers to continue. I was told to just sit tight and relax. Everything in my life can return to normal- except for one thing- I am not allowed to drive for six months. As a commuter student and employee, losing my license has felt like uprooting my entire life. I spent almost an hour and a half in the car a day – 25 minutes to school, 25 minutes back, 10 minutes to the gym, 10 minutes to work, 10 minutes home. Constantly moving. This has been the norm in my life for the last 20 years. Always moving, always going somewhere, always maintaining my independence.

In the weeks since my seizure, my schedule has changed. I have to check and make sure my ride is coming to pick me up, make sure they can take me back to my house, see who can take me to work, and take me home. When I hang out with friends, initiating plans and asking them to drive makes me feel like a burden. I backspace texts asking to hang out with friends and decline invitations. “Sorry,” I say, “I don’t have a ride.” These are sentences I have not had to say since before I got my license at 16. A complete readjustment of my lifestyle has left me with more time alone with my thoughts and worries. My neurologist said stress was probably the cause of my seizure. How should you relax when you’re worried something is wrong with you? I have an MRI appointment with a near $200 copay, ER bills, and more testing later this month. These expensive tests are supposed to give me answers. What if we find out things are worse than we thought? Healthy people don’t just have seizures.

Or do they? Almost everyone I have talked to about my experience knows someone who had a seizure or they have had one or two themselves. Sometimes people have one and then never experience one again. Sometimes, others have one and then continue to have them regularly for years. All people who are for the most part, otherwise healthy.

The stigma I have created in my own head that seizures are uncommon and that something has to be wrong with me is inaccurate. One in ten people will have an unprovoked seizure in their lifetime. Seizure symptoms vary widely, and there are many different kinds. The commonness of them was unknown to me until I had one myself. My journey has just begun and I am only a few weeks into not being able to drive. I am constantly learning new things about myself and others who have had seizures and how we can adapt to the world.

I am a Junior at Old Dominion studying Communication with a focus in Media Studies.
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