Posts Tagged ‘epilepsy’

Fifth grade for my son was uneventful.  He loved his mainstream teacher.  For his special ed. classes (reading, language and math) he was stuck with the social worker serving as the special education teacher.  Serving is probably not an accurate description of her activity.  She was a thorn in my son’s and my side.  She did not understand Tourette Syndrome or Non-Epileptic Seizures.  My son had no privacy when these events went on, which could go on as short as a minute or as a long as forty minutes.  She expected him to continue working while his body was having these spasms of  tics and loud, yelling vocalizations.  She kept telling him he was fine, and to him, he did not feel fine. 

Something to note, since my son was put in Special Education I saw no evidence of school work.  No completed assignments, no home work (which was specified in his IEP), no comments in his assignment book, no nothing.  The only way I knew what was going on was by what my son would tell me.  In our teacher conference that happened once a year, they would flash a couple of papers in front of my face and tell me everything is going fine.  In those days I was not smart enough to ask for a definition of fine.  I made an assumption that they were doing what was best for my son.  They were supposed to be the experts. Big mistake that was.

What I did know is she was still teaching him math facts using the timed tests, which in turn created more episodes of tics and/or non-epileptic seizures.  I had given up trying to make the school stop.  Each day my son would come home and tell me how this teacher was treating him.  She was consistently punishing him for having these tics.  He was left out of any reward systems which was available for the rest of her students.  I kept telling my son to please hang in there.  This was the last year he would be in this school because he would be moving on to Middle School.  At that time he would not have to ever see this teacher again.

Toward the end of fifth grade the Middle School met with me to ensure my son’s transition went well.  The meeting included the principal, the special education teacher, the nurse, and the psychologist.  Based on the meeting they appeared to have their act together.  We talked about the various types of support my son would need.  They appeared to be very diligent in addressing these needs.  It was obvious to me that this school operated completely different than my son’s elementary school.

One of the best things that the Middle School provided is an orientation week before school started so that the students could get their bearing in the big middle school.  This school was the biggest middle school in our state and was quite overwhelming for students at first. 

In this orientation week they ensured that the student knew where their locker was and how to open it. The showed them where their home room was, which was the room they went to first thing in the morning and last thing in the day.  They were showed where the special education room was and explained what time of the day they would be coming there.  They showed  where their house was located (the grade was divided into houses, very much like Harry Potter) and the house location served as the hub for most of their standard classes such as English, Math, Social Studies, etc.  They also showed where art classes and physical education classes occurred.  For physical education they explained what to expect as it relates to another locker, clothing, showering, etc.  And finally they explained the bus routine.  This was a new thing for my son because he had not ridden the bus up to this point.  All in all I think this was a wonderful program.  The school brought together the population of four elementary schools into one seventh grade class at the middle school.

Parents were also invited to an orientation which was basically a demonstration of the rules, preparing the parents for middle school.  Believe it or not, I wasn’t anxious about this transitional year until I went to this meeting.  One of the big topics was school absences, which I was really concerned about.  I talked to the Vice Principal after the meeting about this topic and explained that my son would be using up his absences in no time, just for the purpose of going to doctor appointments.  At this point my son was seeing a neuropsychologist every three weeks.  He also saw his neurologist every three months.  The Vice Principal told me to not worry about it.  The absences were understandable.  Later, I learned the absences were a bigger deal that what the Vice Principal led on.

So we were set to start sixth grade.  I use the work “we” because the transition was not only for my son, but also for me.  It was like starting all over again with new people.  I explained to my son that this was an opportunity for us to start out new and not be impacted by personal prejudices that some of his previous teachers had shown.  He was looking forward to the year and was glad he was out of elementary school.

To be continued . . .

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As I mentioned in my previous blog, it was in third grade when my son started falling behind in school.  It is also when he started to have some unusual movements and vocalizations, which may have been Tourette Syndrome or Non-epileptic seizures. 

After the school year for third grade was done, I got my son a tutor, which was his second grade teacher who he truly loved.  She worked with him on reading and actually got him advanced up two levels on leveled books.  Keep in mind I paid to have this tutor, which we did two summers in a row.

For fourth grade the school put my son into Special Education for both reading, language, and math.  The remaining classes were in his mainstream class.  After about two months the special education teacher wanted to meet with me.  In this meeting, which also included the Principal and the school social worker, their big complaint was that my son was having too many tics.  My reaction was “And so?”  We had been doing everything we could medically.  We had tried medications with no success.  My son was also seeing a neuropsychologist every three weeks. 

The second complaint was that my son needed guidance from the teacher in order to do his work.  Hello!  He’s in Special Education!  Isn’t that one of the principles of Special Education.  She also said that if she gave direction involving three different things.  He would follow through on one of them and then stop.  He could not remember the remaining two things.  She also complained that he could have gotten clues by looking around at the other five children in the room, because they were all doing the same thing.  Instead he would just sit there doing nothing.

I wasn’t surprised by any of this.  This was no different from what we experienced at home.  Over the years we learned to compensate for this without even knowing we were doing it.  We only gave him instructions one at a time.  There were somethings that we just didn’t ask him to do, because it would take too long, especially on busy mornings as he got ready to go to school.

Finally in this meeting the school suggested that we shift my son to a new room that had fewer children in it and could get more attention from the teacher.  The odd thing was the teacher was actually the social worker in the school.  She had no background in teaching special education.  This decision turned into a big disaster.  My son was then stuck with this woman through fifth grade.  We talked about teaching him “touch math,” which they only did for a couple of weeks and then went back to the one minute timed drills.  End result more tics.

The biggest problem with her was the fact that she punished him for having tics.  She gave him no privacy when he was having a bout of tics.  She expected him to be able to continue working as he was having the extreme movement tics and vocalizations.  Probably the most debilitating aspect of her teaching method was that she had no empathy for his circumstance. 

Toward the middle of third grade I read in the school newsletter that they were going to offer reading tutoring for kids and it indicated we would be getting additional information about this in the near future.  I was really excited about this because my son needed the help.  At the time he was almost two grades behind in reading.  So I waited for the second communication.  I waited, and waited.  Finally I reached out to the principal.  He responded that the program was done and was limited to a select number of kids.  I was furious.  He admitted this was an attempt at increasing their test scores for reading.  The only students that got tutored were students who were on the border of being behind in their grade.

My response to him was he had better watch out, because he is going to get sued.  Here I had been paying for a tutor which was an expenditure I could not really afford.  I was obvious my son needed help.  I told the principal that he was discriminating against my son.  I could tell he was not prepared for this reaction from me.  In the next year they had this tutoring program again and my son was invited. Now I don’t know if he got his equal fair share of tutoring, but he wasn’t excluded. 

Continued. . .

As I indicated in my earlier blog, third grade was a significant year for my son.  It is then that he started to exhibit some medical unusual symptoms. During the second half of the year my son was experiencing extreme body movements along with pain-sounding yelling.  The neurologist and neuropsychologist debated if these were non epileptic seizures or Tourette Syndrome or a combination of both.  What we did know is the EEG of these events did not have the pattern of an epileptic seizure.  We worked closely with the neuropyschologist to provide a plan for the school with direction about how to deal with these events.  In addition we set up a plan for my son to see the neuropsychologist on a frequent basis.

Keep in mind, my son’s first kindergarten teacher recognized he had learning disabilities.  By the time he was in first grade that got him reading and language support.  In second grade the school added some occupational therapy support.  Then his second grade teacher had reported that at the end of the year my son was having difficulty with math.  Even though I brought his second grade teacher to my next IEP, no actions were taken. 

During the second half of third grade the topic for math that was being covered in the classroom was learning addition and subtraction facts.  In my opinion this is what triggered the movement and vocal tics that my son was experiencing.  The way the students were being taught the math facts was via one minute timed test on a specific set of math facts, which progressively got harder as you worked your way through the sets.  Each student had a goal of how many correct math facts they could do in one minute, which included taking into consideration their writing speed.  As time went on, I finally figured out that it was these tests that were causing my son anxiety and the result was these extreme movement tics and vocal tics.  Just bringing out the green piece of  paper that the tests were given on would cause a round of these tics.

When this first started my son missed quite a lot of school because he had these movements at night for hours at a time and he had a difficult time functioning the next day due to lack of sleep.  The other big issue was his safety.  There was no way to truly predict when he would have a bout of these movements.  He would fall down or have his arms jerk.  The potential for him to harm himself was high.  Eventually the school understood there were certain things needed to be in place before he went back to school. 

My son needed a private place in the class room that was safe and provided privacy when he was having a round of tics.  They placed a bean bag behind a screened area. This really didn’t give him privacy.  The whole class knew he was having problems when he went behind the screen.  They could also hear his screams.  You can imagine the embarrassment he felt.  Just another thing raising his anxiety.

 They also provided an aide to be there for him so that he did not harm himself.  This turned out to be a big mistake.  She made him anxious and was very judgemental without having any experience with either non epileptic seizures or Tourette Syndrome.  She would constantly tell me son while he was having a bout of tics that he was okay.  To my son, he didn’t feel okay.  The movements were drastic and very real to him.  Telling him he was okay was like accusing him of faking his condition.

My son returned to school slowly, increasing the number of hours as time went by.  While he was in this part-time mode the school provided a tutor for him.  Unfortunately the tutor was his third grade teacher.  At the time I didn’t realize she was part of the problem.  During these tutoring sessions they required me to be present.  The only subject she worked on was Math.  She kept pulling out the green paper timed tests and my son would immediately begin to have these tics.  I finally asked her if she could teach this math without the timed test.  In my opinion, there had to be a way to teach him the math facts without doing these stressful timed tests.  She absolutely refused to adjust her teaching method, and obviously my son continued to have bouts of tics.

Here was an example of a very obvious problem and our school failed to adapt to the situation.  These math facts become a repeating theme in the next couple of years.  The unfortunate thing is my son had figured out addition and subtraction on his own before he even went to pre-school.  As a result of this situation in third grade he started to fall behind in math.  The school had all the information to take action as a response to intervention and instead failed.  The weight of that failure is now on my son’s shoulders.  The math story does not end here.

Continued . . .

I am so glad that 2011 is coming to an end. It wasn’t a very pleasant year for my family. My son and I have been on our own for about three years while my husband has been in another country trying to create some financial stability for our family. A failed business, my son’s medical bills, our own health, and ailing parents have really set us back financially. In three years we have seen my husband for only two months. It is not easy dealing with life’s challenges without your husband or your father. This has been really hard for my son. He doesn’t understand that his father is sacrificing too. He doesn’t understand why his father had to go to another country.  He doesn’t that his father does not have access to the same opportunities here in America.

This year was a personal challenge for myself due to some health issues that creeped up on me. A year ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. And then for about a year I started to have some unusual symptoms including dizziness and loss of memory. The loss of memory was getting pretty serious. My success in my career was mainly due to my memory and the creativity of the mind. Finally after going through some tests it was determined that I had hypothyroidism. Since starting the medication things have improved but not totally back to normal.

Who knows, perhaps I am back to normal. Perhaps this is just my stage in life. I am over 50 years old, going through menopause, have diabetes, am over weight, suffer from both anxiety and depression, and have a thyroid that isn’t working. Perhaps this is the new normal.

One of the other big challenges we have been dealing with is my son’s type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed a year and a half ago. A year ago he went on an insulin pump. Yet his blood glucose is still out of control. He is 13 years old and does not understand the seriousness of diabetes. I fight to get him to test his blood. I fight to get him to take his insulin. He is angry about the whole situation and I haven’t figured out a way to get this turned around. And now to top it all off I don’t know how I can keep paying for his diabetes supplies. We are struggling. We aren’t even able to live from paycheck to paycheck.

As some of you may know my son has several chronic health issues besides the diabetes. He also has epilepsy, non-epileptic seizures, Tourette Syndrome, an anxiety disorder, a little OCD, sensory processing issues, high functioning autism, and a little ADHD. That’s a lot to deal with. It all seems to be related. As you know many of these conditions overlap each other. The diagnosis is difficult, and the treatment is nearly impossible. Thus, this is where all of the medical bills come from.

Besides the diabetes, the other thing that was really beating us up was his Tourette Syndrome. He was having hours and hours of these violent physical tics and loud vocal tics. They were exhausting. Nothing seemed to help. We tried everything including medication, therapy, self-hypnosis and bio feedback. Nothing really worked. For most of this to work you have to really understand your tics and try methods to prevent them from happening. Unfortunately my son hasn’t quite figured that out.

Between all of the doctor appointments and nights with no sleep due to theses tics I was missing quite a bit of work and my son missed quite a bit of school. Lucky for me at work I had intermittent medical family leave time and was able to make up my time by working remotely. Usually my manager understood and then sometimes he didn’t. On the other hand my son’s school did not understand. They didn’t understand why he couldn’t attend school when he spent five hours or more in the night having full body jerks and vocal yells. They didn’t understand he needed to go to medical appointments. They didn’t understand that on top of his medical problems he is going to get normal illnesses such as the flu or a sore throat, or a cold, or a stomach ache. It got to the point they wanted a doctor’s note for every day he was having problems. Damm, I couldn’t afford to take him to the doctor every time he was sick or every time he had a bout of tics at night! They didn’t understand that there were no answers. The doctors had no cure. We have seen the best doctors in the country. On top of all this they didn’t understand that we needed to develop a plan that would educate my son with the restriction he has in life and teach him when he is able to learn.

So, this fall I took some time to evaluate the situation as it relates to my son’s education. As you may already know my son has some learning disabilities. He has been on an IEP since first grade. But in the last four years he has made no progress in math and very little progress in reading. He didn’t have the right accommodations in place, even though I would make suggestions, and I don’t think they were teaching him in his learning style. I don’t think they even knew what his learning style was. In fact I don’t think they cared if he was learning. I knew if I let things continue, my son would be graduating from high school and not be able to read.

I then realized I could do a much better job than the school. I was educated. I have a master’s degree. I know my son is quite smart and I just needed to take control and provide him with the education he deserves. So we made the decision to home school. And yes it isn’t easy. I work full-time. The key to it is to be very organized and planning ahead. I have my lesson plan for the whole year, with detailed daily plans that are a month ahead of us. My son follows a schedule while I am at work, and then in the evening we have class together. I am following a flipped classroom approach, where the detailed project work we do together. I take full advantage of information and applications that are available on the internet and educational television programs. I am taking a very practical approach to his education to ensure he learns what he needs to survive in life and to be a contributing citizen to his community. It is not easy, but we have already made tremendous progress since we started in October.

On top of all of this we have had a few more bumps in the road. Last summer we were rear-ended in our car. We both had whiplash and my son had a concussion. The car was totaled. Great, we have no money and I wondered how in the hell was I going to get a car. If I didn’t have a car there would be  no job. I commute about 35 miles away.  Between cashing in my 401K, which wasn’t much because I had already used most of it for all of the other emergencies, the insurance check, which wasn’t much because my car had 275,000 miles on it, and my gracious mother I was able to get a car. This was one less pressure off my mind.  THANK YOU MOM.

This year I have also been facing parents who are getting older and their health is becoming more and more challenging. My father was seriously sick for six months. He has been seeing many different specialist, all of them unsure of the diagnosis and each of them coming up with something different.  Most recently he saw a heart specialist and they have determined he has a blockage.  They will be dong surgery in the near future.  Most recently my mom is having a possible cancer scare. We will know more in the next month. She is a tough lady. She has survived breast cancer and uterine cancer.  The doctors are going to do a biopsy.  Hopefully it isn’t cancer.  We will see.

This year we also lost someone very dear to us. My husband’s brother died from cancer. He was in a country where he didn’t have access to medical treatment for cancer. He died within 9 months of being diagnosed. The end was bad. My husband was literally donating his blood daily to try to keep him alive. His wife went from hospital to hospital to try to buy blood. Medical care in third world countries is limited.  It was a terrible situation. But now he is at peace. We miss him dearly. He was kind and generous. More importantly he was greatly loved.

So we are almost to the end of 2011. The holidays are here, even though I don’t feel like being in the holiday spirit. I think to myself, let it be over. What could be worse than this year? I spoke too soon. My company informed me last week that my position was being discontinued and I was being laid off. What! Not now. My first thoughts were, I have to keep my son’s health insurance. I cried. Talk about sucker punching you when you are down.

I am telling you all of this because I have had a bad year and needed to get it off my chest. I am also telling you this because I am an example of one of those Americans that is struggling.  Looking back, my life has never been easy. BUT, I am also a survivor. I will get another job. I will take care of my son. Life will go on. I may not have my own home. My apartment may not be all decorated. I may not have a lot of clothes. I may not go on vacations. I may not be able to eat at restaurants. Sometimes I may not feel the best. I might even feel sorry for myself. But I am alive. I have a family that I love. And what else would I do. Give up? What would happen to my son if I did that? I have to be here for him. I have to make it. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do, and that it is how it is with me. Doing what I have to do.

Here to 2012! It is going to be a great year.

Famous People With Epilepsy Include:

Hugo Weaving– Hugo Wallace Weaving (born 4 April 1960) is a film and stage actor, as well as a voice actor. Weaving was born in Nigeria. He spent his childhood in South Africa and then moved to the United Kingdom in his teens. He moved to Australia in 1976, where he attended Sydney’s Knox Grammar School. Weaving later graduated from Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1981. When he was 13 years old, Weaving was diagnosed with epilepsy. Due to the prospect of seizures, Weaving does not drive cars. He has never married and lives with his partner Katrina Greenwood.

Vincent van Gogh – (1853 – 1890) Vincent Van Gogh was a passionate artist who strongly believed that all expressions should be expressed through colors. He was heard saying that all he ever wanted to do with his life was paint all that came to his mind. He also said that when he would be deceased he would look back at his life and cry for the paintings that he could have created. Being the loving and creative man that he was his epilepsy had once caused him to run after his friends with an open razor, he ended up cutting his own ear lobe off. He eventually shot himself “For the good of all”leaving behind all the colorful paintings he had made.

Sir Isaac Newton– (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) A very important scientist who is responsibe for founding the three laws of motion along with studies concerning Universal Gravitation. He studied many scientific disciplines but mainly stayed inside the field of mechanics. It is said that Newton had mainly discovered gravity by examining a falling apple, that would have been one of the major reasons for him to start his researches in the subject. Was thought by many a product of psychosis but he may just have been in his right mind.

Neil Young– (born November 12, 1945, Toronto, Ontario) A musician known for his meaningful lyrics and also a spokesman for environmental issues, Neil Young has been labeled one of the greatest guitarists of his time. When he was young his parents divorced and Neil was confronted with many diseases simultaneously. The obstacles in which he faced included Epilepsy, Polio and Diabetes which he did eventually all overcome. Since then he has been a peacekeeper through music and is ever present in the fight for justice and all that has to do with a more peaceful world.

Napoleon Bonaparte– (15 August 1769-5 May 1821) An Italian General with many victories, also later becoming 1st consul of France. He played a great role in many wars and was a shining sword of honor for all of the French. Since his youth Napoleon had always given all his efforts to rise in military grades until he finally became emperor seated on his imperial throne. Many books today claim that Napoleon Bonaparte might have suffered from epilepsy throughout his lifetime. Although many have stood up to say that there is no valid proof and that it is but a myth.

Agatha Christie– Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa, Lady Mallowan, DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976), commonly known as Agatha Christie, was an English crime fiction writer. She also wrote romance novels under the name Mary Westmacott, but is best remembered for her 80 detective novels and her successful West End theatre plays. Agatha Christie is world famous for her brilliantly crafted mysteries. During the 1920s and 1930s, she created the enduring detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The details of Christie’s personal life, however, have rarely been documented.

Charles Dickens– Charles John Huffam Dickens, FRSA (17 February 1812 – 9 June 1870), pen-name “Boz”, was the foremost English novelist of the Victorian era, as well as a vigorous social campaigner. The Victorian author of such classic books as A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist had epilepsy, as did several of the characters in his books. The medical accuracy of Dickens’s descriptions of epilepsy has amazed the doctors who read him today. Through some characters in his novels, Charles Dickens recorded observations on the nature of epileptic seizures, their causes and provocation, and their consequences. Three of his main characters, Monks, Guster, and Bradley Headstone, had seizures which Dickens realistically described.

Alexander the Great– Alexander the Great (July 20, 356 BC – June 10, 323 BC), also known as Alexander III, was an ancient Greek king (basileus) of Macedon (336-323 BC). Alexander died after twelve years of constant military campaigning, possibly as a result of malaria, poisoning, typhoid fever, viral encephalitis or the consequences of alcoholism. Born in Pella, capital of Macedon, Alexander was the son of King Philip II of Macedon and of his fourth wife Olympias, an Epirote princess. Alexander the Great had epilepsy, however at during his time epilepsy was known as “the sacred disease” because of the belief that those who had seizures were possessed by evil spirits or touched by the gods and should be treated by invoking mystical powers.

Danny Glover– (Born July 22, 1947) A great actor in both Lethal Weapon with Mel Gibson and Predator 2. Danny Glover suffered dyslexia at school when he was younger and the school staff would label him retarded. Danny Glover also had epilepsy and at an appearance on the Rosie O’Donnell Show told how he had developed epilepsy at the age of 15, and in one cross-country trip with his family had experienced six seizures in a row.

Alfred Nobel– Alfred Bernhard Nobel (October 21, 1833, Stockholm, Sweden – December 10, 1896, Sanremo, Italy) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite. By the time of his death he held more than 350 patents and controlled factories and laboratories in 20 countries. William Gordon Lennox wrote that “Nobel was subject to migraines and convulsions from infancy.” Nobel had epileptic seizures as a young child, which later made him write of convulsions and agony in a poem. The foundations of the Nobel Prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth for its establishment. Since 1901, the prize has honored men and women for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace.

Michelangelo– (March 6, 1475 – February 18, 1564) The sculptor of many of the most renowned sculptures of all times. Michaelangelo was a respected renaissance man only rivaled by Leonardo Da Vinci. Striving to excel in numerous disciplines he is also responsible for the paintings inside many famous cathedrals and the construction of some of the most respected buildings. Projects such as St.Peters basilica, basilica of San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapel which will forever leave Michaelangelo and his works a legend in all history.

Leonardo Da Vinci– (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) The man responsible for some of the greatest religious paintings in history Leonardo Da Vinci excelled not only in painting but in numerous other disciplines as well. He was a Tuscan polymath: architect, botanist, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, and writer. His most famous work is definetely the paintings of both Mona Lisa and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ which have both been the most reproduced religious paintings of all times.

Julius Caesar– (July 13, 100 BC – March 15, 44 BC), One of the most influential men in world history, Caesar participated in the army with distinction constantly excelling in leadership skills. He had a ruthless personality and thought of himself as far superior. A perfect example of this is when Julius had gotten captured by pirates, the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents of gold. Julius then laughed and demanded that they ask for fifty, he then promised them that he would chase them down once freed. Which he did, raising a fleet to chase the pirates and capture them. He then crucified them under his law once he had caught up to them.

Edgar Allen Poe– (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) Edgar Allen Poe is a member of the Romantic Movement, mostly as an author and literacy critic. He has written books and short stories and he is best known for his macabre and mysteries, he is the one who invented the Detective-Fiction genre. For many years people have referred his mental problems to alcohol and drug abuse but, today many believe that he was not well diagnosed. Many now believe he may have been epileptic which would sometimes explain his frequent confusion.

Aristotle – (384 BC – 322 BC) Aristotle was a Greek philosopher writing on many different subjects including zoology, biology, ethics, government, politics, physics, metaphysics, music, poetry and theater. He was also a great teacher for Alexander the Great. Aristotle was one of the first to point out that epilepsy and genius were often closely connected. He found that the seizure disorders may have the ability to increase brain activity in specific places and maybe also enhance a persons natural abilities to a certain extent.

Theodore Roosevelt– 26th President of the U.S. (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) Roosevelt was a soldier , historian, explorer, naturalist, author, and Governor of New York later becoming the President of the United States at the age of 42 years old. He was well known for having a vast range of objectives and achievements, all with an energetic determination and a hard ”cowboy” persona. He was subject to epileptic seizures, his eyesight was bad, and he also suffered from asthma, but was still a man of courage and strength appreciated by many.

Alfred the Great – (c. 849 – 26 October 899) Alfred the Great was king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex from 871 to 899. In his life Alfred highly valued education and wanted his kingdom to be rich with knowledge. He improved his Kingdom’s law as well as it’s military structure. Although Alfred had epilepsy it did not keep him from doing good for his kingdom and making one of the best books of laws of his time. He was very catholic and by the time of his death he had helped increase the quality and amount of churches and schools from all over his lands.

Bud Abbott – (October 2, 1895 – April 24, 1974) Bud Abott was an American producer, comedian and actor. Many times did he try to hide the fact that he was suffering from epilepsy. His whole life he had been subject to the disease and many times he tried to control it with alcohol. His alcoholism was getting worst as time went by and he eventually went bankrupt due to tax issues with the IRS. Short after going bankrupt Bud lost his longtime partner Lou Costello when he died from heart damage. Bud then tried to take another shot at his career with Candy Candido but was not successful. Bud Abott died of cancer on April 24, 1974 after suffering from two consecutive strokes.

Lewis Carrol – (27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898) was an English author, photographer, mathematician, Anglican clergyman and logician. He has written several renowned books and his work has inspired many modern artists. His facility in wordplay would attract not only children but also some of the elite readers. He has written books describing minor epilepsy attacks and the dream worlds that some of them may bring a person to. Like the sensation of falling in a hole and everything around getting smaller or bigger. Not hearing or seeing the same and feeling as if your entire body is changing in a fraction of a second.

Richard Burton – (November 10, 1925 – August 5, 1984) Being at one time the highest paid Hollywood actor, Richard was well known for his distinctive voice. He was crippled all his life by epilepsy and was extremely deep into alcoholism to try and prevent the seizures. Eventually this led him to manic depression but he would never go to see a doctor because he did not trust them one bit. At times he seemed to be more scared of being crazy then having epilepsy. Throughout his entire life he had never went to get diagnosed by a doctor.

George Frederick Handel – (Friday 23 February 1685 – Saturday 14 April 1759) was a German-born Baroque composer who is famous for his operas, oratorios and concerti grossi. Since the 1960s, with the revival of interest in baroque music, original instrument playing styles, and the prevalence of countertenors who could more accurately replicate castrato roles, interest has revived in Handel’s Italian operas, and many have been recorded and performed onstage.

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky – (1821 – 1881) – Russian writer and essayist, known for his novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoyevsky had epilepsy and his first seizure occurred when he was nine years old. Epileptic seizures recurred sporadically throughout his life, and Dostoyevsky’s experiences are thought to have formed the basis for his description of Prince Myshkin’s epilepsy in his novel The Idiot and that of Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov, among others.

Charles V of Spain – Charles V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558) was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 until his abdication in 1556 and also ruler of the Spanish realms from 1516 until 1556. Charles V suffered from epilepsy and from an enlarged lower jaw. He struggled to chew his food properly and consequently experienced bad indigestion for much of his life. also He suffered from joint pain, presumed to be gout, according to his 16th century doctors. In his retirement, he was carried around the monastery of St. Yuste in a sedan chair. He was greatly interested in clocks, instructing his servants to take them apart and reassemble them in his presence.

Pythagoras – Pythagoras was the first man to call himself a philosopher, ”lover of wisdom” and was the most able philosopher among the Greeks. He was know as ”the father of numbers” and greatly contributed to mathematics. It is even said that many of his ideas had directly influenced Plato. Many of his teachings were only passed down by some of his students, none of his work had seen the day and none can be sure of exactly how wise Pythagoras was. Although he had made huge contributions to both philosophy and religion in the late 6th century BC.

Hannibal – Carthaginian military commander and tactician, later also working in other professions, who is popularly credited as one of the finest commanders in history. He lived during a period of tension in the Mediterranean, when Rome (then the Roman Republic) established its supremacy over other great powers such as Carthage, Macedon, Syracuse, and the Seleucid empire. His most famous achievement was at the outbreak of the Second Punic War, when he marched an army, which included war elephants, from Iberia over the Pyrenees and the Alps into northern Italy.

Hector Berlioz – Louis Hector Berlioz (December 11, 1803 – March 8, 1869) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande Messe des morts (Requiem). Berlioz made great contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation and by utilizing huge orchestral forces for his works, sometimes calling for over 1,000 performers.

James Madison – During his teens and early twenties, Madison complained of a voice impairment. This was a functional handicap that prevented his public speaking until age 30. Madison believed he would ” have a short life due to the illness he believed was epilepsy.

Lord Byron – Baron Byron, of Rochdale in the County Palatine of Lancaster, is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1643, by letters patent, for Sir John Byron, a Cavalier general and former Member of Parliament. Some biographies suggest that Lord Byron experienced epileptic seizures and in various passages he writes of symptoms reminiscent of epilepsy.

Louis XIII of France – (September 27, 1601 – May 14, 1643) ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1610 to 1643. Louis XIII ascended to the throne in 1610, at the age of eight and a half, upon the assassination of his father.

Margaux Hemingway – (February 16, 1955 – July 1, 1996) was an American model and film actress who appeared in several movies. She was born in Portland, Oregon, the sister of actress Mariel Hemingway and the granddaughter of writer Ernest Hemingway. She struggled with a variety of disorders in addition to alcoholism, including bulimia and epilepsy.

Martin Luther – (November 10, 1483-February 18, 1546) was a German monk, theologian, and church reformer. Luther’s theology challenged the authority of the papacy by holding that the Bible is the sole source of religious authority and that all baptized Christians are a priesthood of believers. Luther had many documented illnesses, but any recurrent attacks were probably due to Meniere’s disease.

Nicolo Paganini – (October 27, 1782 – May 27, 1840) was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He is widely considered to be one of, if not the greatest violinist who ever lived and it is believed to he had epilepsy.

Paul I of Russia – Pavel (Paul) I Petrovich of Russia (October 1, 1754 – March 23, 1801) was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. During his infancy, Paul was taken from the care of his mother by the Empress Elizabeth, whose ill-judged fondness allegedly injured his health. As a boy, he was reported to be intelligent and good-looking. His pugnacious facial features in later life are attributed to an attack of typhus, from which he suffered in 1771.

Peter Tchaikovsky – Russian composer of the Romantic era. Tchaikovsky, is believed to have had epilepsy. Pyotr began piano lessons at age five with a local woman, Mariya Palchikova within three years he read music as well as his teacher. Tchaikovsky died on November 6, 1893, nine days after the premiere of his Sixth Symphony, the Pathetique. His death has traditionally been attributed to cholera, most probably contracted through drinking contaminated water several days earlier.

Peter the Great – Peter I the Great or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov (9 June 1672 – 8 February 1725) Both Peter’s hands and feet were small, and his shoulders narrow for his height; likewise, his head was also small for his tall body. Added to this were Peter’s facial tics, and, judging by descriptions handed down, he may have suffered from petit mal, a form of epilepsy.

Robert Schumann – (June 8, 1810 – July 29, 1856) was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is one of the most famous Romantic composers of the 19th century.

Sir Walter Scott – (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832) was a prolific Scottish historical novelist and poet popular throughout Europe during his time. Walter Scott survived a childhood bout of polio in 1773 that would leave him lame. In 1778 Scott returned to Edinburgh for private education to prepare him for school, he was now well able to walk and explore the city as well as the surrounding countryside. His reading included chivalric romances, poems, history and travel books.

Socrates – (470 BCE-399 BCE) was a Classical Greek philosopher. He is best known for the creation of Socratic irony and the Socratic Method, or elenchus. Socrates developed the practice of a philosophical type of pedagogy, in which the teacher asks questions of the students to elicit the best answer, and fundamental insight, on the part of the student.

Truman Capote – born Truman Streckfus Persons in New Orleans, Louisiana (30 September 1924 – 25 August 1984) was an American writer whose stories, novels, plays, and non-fiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood. Capote once said, “I don’t care what anybody says about me, as long as it isn’t true”. John Knowles says that Capote “induced epilepsy himself by abusing his nervous system with drugs and booze” An autopsy showed Mr. Capote had an infection in his legs and signs of epilepsy, but no conclusive information was disclosed about the cause of the author’s death.

Chanda Gunn – (born January 27, 1980 in Huntington Beach, California) is an American ice hockey player. She won a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics. As a female athlete with temporal lobe epilepsy, Chanda Gunn faces each day with a zest for life and the determination to live each day to its fullest. Gunn has received numerous awards, she is the first player ever to be named a finalist for both the Patty Kazmaier Award for the nation’s best women’s college hockey player and the Humanitarian Award for college hockey’s finest citizen.

Dj Hapa – Diagnosed with epilepsy at age 17, HAPA was initially told he would not be able to attend college due to his condition. He attended UCLA on a Regents scholarship and today is the executive director of the Scratch DJ Academy.