I was between 5th and 6th grade, all dolled up for a pageant interview. My hair perfect, my dress immaculate, my age-appropriate makeup causing my face to gleam. I was so excited and nervous to let the judges get to know me. When it was my turn to present my introduction, I flashed them a knock-out smile… And then I was knocked out on the ground.
It was a seizure. They always seem to happen to me at the worst times possible. By the time I realized what happened, the other two contestants were cleared out and there were 3 judges looking at me with sheer panic. “It’s okay!” I screamed. “I just need to lay on my side so I can get oxygen to my brain.”
Explaining what to do during a seizure (while I was still having a seizure) was rather exhausting for my young mind. While assuming “seizure position”, I curled up in fetal and did what every scared 10-year-old does, cry for mommy. Mommy came to save the day, but then the situation only got worse.
The pageant director came up with her with a distraught look on his face. He obviously didn’t know what to do. My mother ran to me and took me into an embrace.
“Is she okay to continue with her interview?” asked the director
My mother was trying to contain her outrage. “Of course not! She’s having a seizure.”
“Unfortunately, she will be disqualified if she does not complete her interview now.”
Even though I was given a few minutes to come out of my seizure, I was not able to clear out the cognitive stew that was my brain on various firing electrodes. I completed the interview, though my answers were not accurate and did not reflect who I was as a person.
From this experience, I learned something. The general public truly has no idea how to handle seizures, or even what they are. This is evident because I, as a seizing child, had to explain to a group of adults what to do and further shows itself when the director expected me to finish an interview under my circumstances.
They should have known that seizures are uncontrolled firing electricity in the brain. They should have known that answering a simple question during and after a seizure is one of the hardest things in the world. But they didn’t.
This is what drives me to educate the public. The last thing I want is another little boy or girl having a seizure around people who can’t handle it, because that experience is the scariest one I’ve ever had.