Nora McCarstle was recognized as Epilepsy Foundation Louisiana’s honoree at our 6th annual Seats for Seizures gala on October 18, 2015. She has been a nurse in the Baton Rouge area for almost 30 years and in that time has gone above and beyond to give her patients the best care. She doesn’t have epilepsy like most of our Seize Your Success heroes do, but she does work to make life better, not only for those with epilepsy, but for many others as well.
Nora began her nursing career straight out of college and worked in several different fields before she became a nurse for the Office of Public Health (OPH) with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals in 1996. Seven years later, she truly found her place when she began working for Children’s Special Health Services (CSHS), which provides a wide range of clinical services to children with special needs.
One of the services CSHS provides is a bi-monthly neurology clinic where Nora is head nurse. This means she sees all epilepsy patients and is an essential part of their health care, providing clinical support, case management, and advice on all aspects of living with epilepsy to patients and their families.
Nora says, “When someone is newly diagnosed, they are usually scared and anxious. Most parents don’t know how to manage, so I teach them about epilepsy – what they should and should’t do. I tell them their child WILL be ok and that we WILL get this under control. I alleviate some of their concerns and once they are educated, they are less fearful.”
Patients of Nora’s say she is always there for support and she is consistently being recognized by others for the excellent care she gives. Dr. Charlotte Hollman, one of the doctor’s who works the clinic, says Nora is “dedicated, compassionate, and committed to children with epilepsy and their parents to help the children do their very best with seizure control.”
Helping people has always been important to Nora, which is why she chose a career that allows her to do just that. “When you have tried one thing after another and nothing seems to be working, you feel helpless. Then you finally find the right medication and the parent comes in and gives you a hug and you can feel their relief, it is one of the greatest joys and makes it all so worth it,” says Nora.
As a mother of two (Michael, 22, and Kaci, 18), it helps that Nora knows exactly what many of these families are going through. About a year after she started working at CSHS, her daughter started having seizures. Her work experience made her a better caregiver to Kaci and her personal experience gave her a way to connect with other mothers to help them better understand.
She now shares a special bond with these patients and is able to give other families hope when she tells them her daughter is now seizure free and starting college soon. Nora humbly says, “It is rare to genuinely love what you do and I am so lucky I found my place, I ended up exactly where I need to be.”
We agree she is right where she should be, helping make life better for children and their families with special needs. Nora is truly a hero and we are thankful for all she does. EFL is especially grateful to have her as an advocate for epilepsy and we are proud to recognize her as our 2015 Honoree.