Clint Leray, 22, who has loved cars and trucks for as long as he can remember, is working his way through the Automotive Technology Program at Baton Rouge Community College. His plans are to take his love and talent of taking apart engines and putting them back together and turn it into a lucrative career.
Clint’s dad took him to a monster truck rally when he was about seven years old and from that night on, Clint was obsessed with what gave the trucks all their power and what made cars go so fast. He wanted to learn the ins and outs so that he could build the biggest and quickest vehicles to drive.
The next year, during dinner one night, Clint was drinking from a cup when he dropped it his lap, spilling milk everywhere and then blanked out for a bit. “I remember I couldn’t explain what happened. When it was over my vision was kind of blurry and I was seeing shapes. My mom thought I was trying to be funny and she was mad, but we just brushed it off,” he says.
Over the next couple of months this happened more frequently and soon Clint was diagnosed with epilepsy. Clint says, “I was a kid so of course I didn’t know what epilepsy was. My parents were just as confused, they thought the only kind of seizures where the shaking ones. We found out I was having 20 seizures a day sometimes. It was definitely a shock.”
Medication didn’t work at first. Clint was exhausted all the time and had dizzy spells, plus he was having break through seizures. Eventually they found a combination of medicine that worked well for many years. When he was 13 the seizures returned, though less frequently, and it would be a year until they were under control again.
“When the seizures started up again, I thought they would never go away. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to drive ever, so I stopped just reading about mechanics and started actually working on engines. I still wanted to be able to work with cars,” says Clint. “Turns out, I was really good at it. Of course I was still very happy to eventually get my license,” he adds.
Clint has now been seizure free for eight years, though he still takes medicine. Clint admits, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my epilepsy and wonder if today is the day I’ll have another seizure. I don’t let it stop me though. I also think that a lot of other people are like my parents and think that epilepsy is only convulsive seizures. I have never been hesitant to inform people when I can. Definitely the more people know the better.”
Clint will finish his program soon and will take over his uncle’s engine repair business. He loves what he does and is thankful he found his calling in spite of his epilepsy.