Three years ago, Thomas McCann, now 27, returned home to Florida after a year long trip through Europe and was gearing up to begin life in the real world when he had his first seizure in over a decade. He almost let it get the best of him, but decided to not let epilepsy dictate his future.
As a teen, Thomas was a gifted student who loved math, computers, and video games. After three tonic-clonic seizures freshman year, a diagnosis of epilepsy, and 10 months figuring out medicine; life was pretty much back to normal for Thomas.
He says, “I was never really a rough-and-tumble kid. I was small and only good at sports on a gaming console. My routine didn’t really have to change much, but I had never heard of epilepsy before that happened. I didn’t know until much later that there are several different kinds of seizures and that not all are as easily treated as mine were.”
Thomas breezed through the rest of high school and college with no problem. He had a great experience abroad but was excited to start a career. He had only been back from his trip for two weeks when he started applying for jobs as a video game programmer all over the south. Unfortunately, that’s also when his seizures came back with a vengeance.
“When I woke up in the hospital, I knew exactly why I was there without having to ask. I was much more educated and aware of the seriousness this time around. A seizure at 24 feels the same as seizure at 14, except maybe worse because even though I was still taking medicine, in my head I believed I had epilepsy beat and that it was behind me,” says Thomas.
Everything got put on hold while he and his doctor tried to find a combination of medicines to control his almost weekly seizures.
He was still struggling to get everything under control 14 months later when he got a surprising call about a job in Baton Rouge, LA at EA Sports. Thomas remembers, “I was really starting to feel like things were not going to get better, I think I was kind of giving up hope when I got that call and snapped out of it. I had never felt hindered by epilepsy before, why was I using it as an excuse now?”
They offered him the job after three rounds of interviews. “I was even honest about my medical issues, I thought for sure I’d never hear from them again, but I got the job and knew I had to take it,” says Thomas.
He had two months to make the transition to Louisiana and with his new attitude, the pieces just kind of fell into place. He worked closely with his doctor to ensure he was taking the best care of himself and moved in with his uncle in Baton Rouge, who was more than happy to have him. They figured out bus and bike routes since Thomas was not able to drive, and soon he was off to his first day of work.
In Baton Rouge for a year now, Thomas has a license and his own place and could not imagine being anywhere else. He says, “I almost missed this great opportunity because I was giving up. It can be hard to see the light when things are grim, but there is so much out there that is worth it. As nerdy as it sounds, all I ever wanted to do was be a programmer and that’s what I get to do every day…as long as I take my medicine, which is a pretty small price to pay!”