Silent Suffering


Matthew Wohlert

At the age of eight, Ryan W. was diagnosed with petit-mal seizures. Even though the seizures lasted seconds, the memory would last forever.

Ryan A., Editor-in-Chief

A seizure is a sudden burst of uncontrolled electrical activity between brain cells. Though seizures may only last seconds, the experience lasts a lifetime. 

For 8th grade student, Ryan W., this was exactly the case. 

“I first had a seizure when I was about 8 years old. I had just finished playing wiffle ball outside with my brothers. And that’s when it happened,” said Ryan. 

After this occurrence, he thought that this was just a twitch or some type of spasm. Little did eight-year-old Ryan know that it was much more complex than that.

“[The seizures] happened again, and then again.”

“It felt like I was taking a nap. I remembered waking up, but I did not remember falling asleep.”

— Ryan W.

“It felt like I was taking a nap. I remembered waking up, but I did not remember falling asleep.”

However, Ryan’s parents had not known that he had experienced his seizures.

“One day my dad was telling me to go do something while I was having a seizure. He had been so furious with me after because he thought I had not been paying attention to him!” 

Ryan had no idea what he was going through, so he could not verbalize his seizures, since he did not know that they existed.

“After about 2 weeks, my parents started noticing. My mom is a doctor, so she quickly started to [understand] what was happening.”

To keep track of his seizures, Ryan had to get a blood test every three months, and an EEG every six months. An EEG (Electroencephalography) is a test that detects abnormalities in brain waves or in the electrical activity of the brain. These tests range from about 20 to 40 minutes.

“I had to take a medicine called Depakote. The amount [fluctuated]. At one point, I was taking seven pills a day.” 

Since the seizures would happen up to four times daily, Ryan slowly lost focus during school. 

“Shortly after I started experiencing the seizures, I noticed that my grades were slowly dropping. I had always been a good student, and I paid attention in class, but my grades kept dropping. One day I had a seizure while I was answering a question in class. It was really embarrassing since no one knew what was going on.”

For Ryan, he could not have done anything about his condition. His seizures would happen randomly, seemingly out of nowhere. 

“My longest seizure was around 10 seconds,” said Ryan.

Not only did he struggle in the classroom, but he also had major problems with other daily activities as well. 

“I was forced to quit baseball. I really loved the sport, but I was having too many seizures to continue. It was one of the saddest days of my life.”

However, most of the time the seizures are not permanent, so all Ryan had to do was be patient and keep taking his assigned dosage.

“Even though the medicines stopped me from having seizures, the side effects were almost as bad. I would get drowsy, and my energy level was low. I would also eat way more than usual. [It was] like a secret life I had. Besides my friends and family, no one knew. The anxiety I felt was almost too much to bear. I did not say a word. All I did was pray and ask God to cure me.”

Ryan was told that if he had no episodes for two years, he would be taken off the medicine. At that point, it was likely that he was done having seizures.

Once two years passed, Ryan had to have one last EEG to see if the seizures were still there. Thankfully, the doctors found no seizures inside his brain. Ryan was seizure-free.

“Throughout all of the troubles I faced, one thing I did get out of it was my trust in God. He is the one that got me through the tough times. I was in so much relief when I heard the news, that I did not even show any emotion. It was like I finally made it home after a seven-hour drive!”