A first episode or diagnosis of epilepsy often marks a point in life that many people with epilepsy remember. Jacob Bales, 24, from New Iberia, was just ten years old when this happened. “The first time I had a seizure I was playing out in the yard with a group of friends. I remember coming to, hearing the ambulance and thinking ‘I must be dying.’ I’ll never forget that day” Jacob says.
It was confirmed that Jacob had experienced a grand mal seizure and he was referred to a neurologist who diagnosed him with epilepsy. The disease had a pretty strong effect on him and his mother, who was raising him alone. The seizures persisted – sometimes twice a day, sometimes once a week, other times it would be two months in between. However, they worked hard make everyday the best it could be, helping push Jacob beyond the limitations of his condition.
He says, “My mom just wanted me to be a regular kid. I remember having a seizure on her birthday one year and crying and telling her how sorry I was for messing up her day. She sat me down, looked me dead in the eye and told me to never apologize for my epilepsy again. It was not my choice. I understood what she meant, and I haven’t since.”
Jacob tried many medications to help control his seizures “A lot didn’t work and one even caused kidney problems that put me in the hospital.” Through trial and error over seven years, they finally found the right medication and dosage to help Jacob. “It was such a relief when the medication finally started working and I started having seizures less frequently.”
Jacob’s seizures have now been controlled for four years and he has gone on to live an extremely independent life, something he and his mother both worried about.
“The seizures have left me with a small stutter and I still take medicine every day, but I got my GED, I live alone, I work, I drive. I’m doing it! Maybe not the way everyone else did, but that’s ok. I will be able to take care of my mother like she took care of me for all those years. I have no complaints.”
Jacob does admit it’s not an easy road and thinks anybody with epilepsy will agree. He says, “For while there were more ups than downs, but life has a way of evening out.” His experiences with epilepsy have only accentuated the type of person that Jacob is – positive, resilient, full of life and forward-looking. He is truly an inspiration for other young adults with epilepsy.