After living with epilepsy for 20 years, Ronn Wallace found himself beginning his adult life at 37 after a successful temporal lobe surgery left him seizure-free in 2003. Since then, Ronn has done things he had given up on a long time ago — he got married last year at the age of 49, he got a job he loves managing a neighborhood grocery store, and he has been on three mission trips (and counting) to the Dominican Republic. Ronn never thought the would live seizure free again, but these last 13 years have have taught him to never say never.
As a small town boy from Winnfield, LA, Ronn was an active and busy teenager with plans to join the army after he graduated high school. He loved to play basketball and always made time to help his neighbors and family do work around the house. Unfortunately, when he was 17, he fell off of the roof cleaning out gutters and suffered a head injury. His seizures began as a result of the fall and they refused to be controlled.
Ronn says, “My life changed in a second. Over the course of those 20 years, I tried every combination of medicines under sun. I quit doing things and talking to people because it was too much. I was having multiple seizures a day. It would get better and then it would get worse. I believed I would never move out on my own or have a job or have a real life. I wanted to lose hope and some days I did, but my mom, who is a huge Sam Cooke fan, always sang ‘A Change is Gonna Come,’ and that’s what I held on to. I waited and waited for a change and it finally came.”
When Ronn was 35, his neurologist relocated out of state and he had to see a new doctor who told him he was a candidate for the temporal lobe surgery. He says, “Even though we were talking about a brain operation, I never hesitated. I knew I had to do it because I had nothing left to lose.”
When his seizures didn’t return right away post-surgery, Ronn was ecstatic. He took it easy for six months and still nothing, so he decided it was time for a job. Even though it was his first time being employed – stocking produce at the grocery store was the best job Ronn had ever had! After two years, he was managing the store part-time and living by himself. Now, he is a full-time manager and drives himself to work everyday, which he never thought he would do.
“I was months from graduating high school and so close to freedom when the accident happened and everything was taken away,” says Ronn. “Gaining independence, even though I was almost 40, was the best feeling in the world and I am just so thankful that I get to stand up and share and my story. I thought my life was going to be just one big seizure, I thought I WAS epilepsy, but now I know that it was just something I had to get through to get here.”
Ronn shares his story of hope and faith in church, on his mission trips, and every other chance he gets. He has no plans to slow down and wants to continue to make up for lost time. “It’s never too late to start living,” says Ronn, “there’s no day like today!”