I was nervous sitting in the neurologist's office waiting for him to come in to see me. I really liked my neurologist, but I hadn't been following his treatment advice lately. I discovered from a friend who used to work for him that the doctor had suffered from seizures, just like me, but he mocked me for trying acupuncture four years ago, so the news that I had come off medication and was not having daily seizures was probably going to shock him.
As he came into the room, the doctor flipped through my chart and asked how I was doing. Then we got to the page where it asked about medication.
"I'm not taking my medication anymore. I couldn't stand the double vision that it caused," I told him cautiously, waiting for his reaction. I started to explain how I weaned myself off the medication and what I was doing to prevent seizures, including sticking to special diets.
"You can't be my patient anymore," he said.
I was shocked and devastated. My neurologist had felt like a good friend and it was the end of our friendship, but that friendship was based on taking a medication that made me see double and slowed down my cognitive skills to the point where I wasn't competent in the workplace. Through much research, I thought I'd found the cause of my seizures and chose to address it naturally. I had made the decision to discontinue my medication and get healthy on my own. In fact, I had already started writing a book to inspire other people with epilepsy to come off medication.
"What will happen if I am six months seizure-free without medication? Will you sign off on my driving privileges?" I asked my neurologist. In the state of Virginia, being free of seizures for six months allows epilepsy patients to drive legally.
"No. Absolutely not," he replied.
Struggling to control my seizures by taking medication had impacted my job choices and my job performance, and I had been fired more than once. Living with seizures on medications had become about just surviving — but not really enjoying — life. Instead, I took control over my employment and starting a medical billing company.
I knew that telling my doctor that I was off medication would change our relationship, but it had to be done. I had discovered natural prevention strategies that I wanted to share in a book with other people who were suffering from seizures. I wanted to inspire other people to take control over their health and eliminate the side effects that come from taking medication.
It is tough not to have the support of the medical community, but I am functioning better than I did in the two decades I spent on medication. I am conquering my insecurities and sharing my story in hopes of inspiring other people.
I am leaning in to take responsibility for my own health and empower other people to do the same.