Growing up, children often live in a world of their own. Over active imaginations and short attention spans often take lively young ones into a state of meditation where they loose themselves in daydreams. But for six-year-old Lawton, his blank states usually signaled that start of what is known as an Absence Seizure (also known as Petit Mal), where the individual "blanks out" for a period of 10-20 seconds and is completely unresponsive to the happenings going on around them.
As a child, Lawton was placed on medication to control these episodes. Annually, his neurologist would administer tests to gage his brain activity (EEG) to try and evaluate whether his patient needed to stay on medication. With epilepsy, it is not uncommon for a person to outgrow seizures. Although science is unable to explain why, there are numerous incidents where people simply grew out of epilepsy.
Lawton was told if his EEG tests came out normal for two years in a row, he could be taken off of his medicine. His tests during his eleventh and twelfth year came out normal. It was assumed Lawton was in the clear.
For several years Lawton remained seizure free living an active lifestyle with sports and relationships. He was seventeen when his brain rebelled again.
Lawton was 17 and enjoying a camp retreat with his friends. Filled with energy, several of the teens decided to start a game of basketball. Competitive and athletic Lawton was never one to turn down such an event. The game had started and before he knew it, he was on the way to the hospital.
Lawton had suffered a double tonic clonic (grand maul) seizure. With this type of seizure, the individual loses consciousness and every muscle in their body begins to violently spas. The body is unable to get oxygen into the lungs and often times the persons face become discolored.
"By that time I was used to the idea of having seizures, and maybe it's because of my personality, but it didn't really get to me," Lawton said.
This is not to say Lawton ignores his disability.
What it's like
"It's unsettling to have an uncontrollable disease," Lawton says. He often becomes frustrated that he can't fix it. Lawton is aware that there is no cure for epilepsy. Medication is used to try and control the seizures but even that is not 100%, and Lawton doesn't like to take medications unless absolute necessary (like in this case.)
Still Lawton contends that this disability doesn't affect him a whole lot. He is still confident in himself and his abilities and he realized that having seizures doesn't change who he is.
“It just reminds me that I'm not as indestructible as I would like to be," He says.
The Hardest Parts
According to Lawton, The most difficult part of having seizures is the headache after. The brain is still reeling from the excessive activity that migraine’s ensue for about a day. Also, whip lash is common causing the entire body to ache from the stress. Injury is also a factor.
During a tonic clonic seizure the person goes unconscious and is unable to control where the body will fall. Lawton proudly displays the various scars he has incurred over the years and uses them to remind him of certain incidents.
"The more seizures I have, the worse my memory gets," Lawton said. He often gets what it know as "tip-of-the-tongue syndrome, where the mind refuses to think of the words necessary to complete the thought.
Lawton also struggles with the financial burdens. He has no insurance and is still paying off ambulance and hospital bills from six years ago.
But Lawton remains steadfast. Last year he graduated from the University of Florida from the college of Health and Human Performance. He is an avid sports enthusiast and loves to run. And most importantly, he has the best girlfriend in the world whom he has been dating for three years. They have started making plans for the future and Lawton says he has a date in mind of when he would like to propose to her. I think she'll say yes.. Both Lawton and his girlfriend Jeni are proving daily that life can be fulfilling and enjoyable, even with epilepsy.
The Epilepsy Project/ The Epilepsy Foundation/ American Epilepsy Society/ Epilepsy Association/ Intro/ Main/ Lawton's Story/ Jeni's Story/ Meet Danny/ Famous People/ What it is/ Stats/ Severity/ FAQ/
Copyright © 2004 by Jennifer E. Tucker
Epilepsy at a glance Graphics and links on the right courtesy of the Epilepsy Project .Please visit their web site for mo0re information.
What it is- The Epilepsy Foundation offers an introduction
Epilepsy and Seizure Stats- The Epilepsy Foundation offers research
Spectrum of Severity- The Epilepsy Foundation categorizes conditions
Frequently Asked Questions- The Epilepsy Foundation responds to frequently asked questions.
Faces of Epilepsy- Famous people with epilepsy