The sweet smell of cookies wafts through Artez Thompson’s kitchen. Pumpkin spice, black walnut, chocolate hazelnut. Once they cool, he’ll glaze them with purple frosting in honor of Epilepsy Awareness Month, his busiest time of year.
The banging came in frantic blasts, each more desperate than the last. Soles slamming against wood until it splintered, the man’s shouts growing shriller by the second. It was the sound of a distraught father kicking in the bathroom door. So loud was the commotion, it woke everyone in the house. But 20-year-old Gordonnay Gaines…
The diagnosis hit in mid-May, casting a shadow over the spring like the long winter had never ended. Thirty years old, the doctorate in full swing, and then. They came out of nowhere. Two tonic-clonic seizures three weeks apart. The first in the shower, the second in an Indiana Cracker Barrel. Sara Kennedy received her epilepsy diagnosis at age 30. Getting used to adult epilepsy has been a process, she says.
In 2011, while Prince William and Kate Middleton were tying the knot in a wedding for the ages, 16-year-old Antonia Laviolette was having her first tonic-clonic seizure. She almost didn’t live to see another day. “I stopped breathing,” Laviolette says. “My mom shouted, ‘It’s not your time to go!’ That brought me back to life.”
He crested the peak like it was the last thing standing between him and paradise. His feet so blistered he could barely walk, still he’d made the climb, every last step of it.
From atop Draupadi Ka Danda II in northern India, Siddharth Singh Kasana peered down at the world 5,700 meters below, his heart full. Beyond the reflection of his sunglasses, no one could see the tears, hot pools pressed against ice-crusted lashes. But they were there.
“I have goals, but it’s difficult to achieve them,” Sharon says.
The 42-year-old mother of three from the outskirts of London is a rarity. Twelve years of epilepsy and its treatment have dulled her memory, yet she remains painstakingly self-aware. She treasures her self-awareness as she would an heirloom. After all, she’s worked hard to retain it.There’s a rawness, a candor, in Sharon’s story that supplies its power.
Twenty-three years have passed since Tom’s last seizure. There was a time when such a span would have seemed just a dream to him. Now, he’s living it. “I don’t even think about seizures anymore,” he says.