Leanne Junot has accomplished a lot so far during her first year in college. She has come to terms with her epilepsy, learned to live on her own, gained work experience and even made it to Ireland for a school trip over semester break. She may be the only freshman at LSU with a strict bedtime, but she says she definitely isn’t missing out.
Leanne was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was thirteen. She had been having seizures for quite some time. They started out minor, just blank stares and tiny memory gaps, that didn’t last longer than ten seconds. Her parents weren’t sure what to think, but it soon progressed to full on convulsive seizures. By the time Leanne got her diagnosis, her seizures had become very difficult to control.
“I had at least a seizure a week for four years, sometimes multiple a day,” says Leanne, “I missed so much school from grades 8-11. I couldn’t participate in all the activities I wanted to. I lost a lot of friends and had to be constantly watched. It definitely wasn’t always easy, but my doctor kept reassuring me that eventually we would find medicines that worked and get it under control. Luckily, she was right!”
Leanne has lived in Baton Rouge all her life and has always been an LSU fan, like her dad. When it came time to start thinking about colleges, she was still having frequent seizures and didn’t know if she would be able to have the college experience she had been waiting for. “I wanted to live the dorms so badly, even though I live in town and could have stayed at home, I wanted that freedom. I didn’t have a typical high school experience, but I was determined to make up for it at LSU. I was so nervous about being alone, but I was ready. I begged my parents and promised to take all the proper precautions.”
Six months into her college career AND six months seizure free…Leanne must be doing something right. She says being on her own and being seizure free has definitely helped her gain her independence. In fact, she even says having epilepsy has almost made this year easier, as far as preparedness goes.
Leanne says, “Most of my friends have a hard time balancing extracurriculars and school, and it is hard because there is so much going on. They are usually waiting until the last minute to write a paper or cramming for a test the night before, but that is not an option for me. If I am stressed, tired and not eating properly, I will have a seizure and I’m really hoping to avoid that. I am very careful about making the most of my time when it comes it comes to school. I’m lucky to be here and I don’t want to mess it up.”
Of course she finds time for fun with friends, concerts and football games- but all in moderation. She is majoring in History and wants to become a high school teacher because she enjoys sharing knowledge with kids. Leanne believes her struggles with epilepsy will help her show students that everyone has some kind of obstacle to overcome, and that it is possible to do so.