I'm Not My Epilepsy - I'm My Art
My name is Stephanie Gowdy1, also known as Alyrical2. I’m a professional artist, a mom (of 2), a friend, and a daughter. I’m also legally blind and I have epilepsy. I live in Palm Beach3, Florida4,USA5.
Favourite food: Cereal
Favourite artist: Lauryn Hill8
Someone once asked me if I felt a certain way towards my daughter since: “She almost killed you.”. There aren’t enough words to express how untrue that statement is! Whilst pregnant with my daughter my life changed drastically in so many ways: during my first trimester9 I started having tonic-clonic seizures10 and was diagnosed with epilepsy12. Unfortunately, every time I had a tonic-clonic seizure, my brain told my body that I was in labor and so at only 22 weeks I became three centimeters dilated; causing me to immediately be admitted into the hospital and on strict bed rest for the next three months. During those three months my life basically fell apart.
The worries that I felt for my unborn child as well as the diagnosis of epilepsy made me feel broken. However, what this did cause me to do was to reorder my life and become a better me. Now when I look at my beautiful daughter that’s just one of the amazing things that I see.
What is shocking, is that if it hadn’t been for my pregnancy with my daughter; I don’t know if I would ever have been officially diagnosed with epilepsy. After being diagnosed and speaking with the neurologist, me and my family realized that I had been having different types of epileptic seizure for years! We’d had no idea. It turned out that I’d had tonic-clonic seizures as a child whenever I had a fever, and all I recall (or my mom told me?!?!) is that all the doctor said was to go straight to the emergency room if I had another seizure! I didn’t have another tonic-clonic seizure until my pregnancy with my daughter, so I hadn’t gone to the doctor. While speaking to doctors after my diagnosis I described experiences that I’d had over the years - which they said were symptoms of seizures!
After giving birth to my beautiful and healthy baby girl (despite doctors’ predictions of her having disabilities or being stillborn), it appeared that my life was continuing to fall apart. My husband quit our marriage, other health issues (of mine) were coming to the forefront, I was constantly ill due to the side-effects of numerous medications (the list could go on and on), and so I had to move to Florida (from Washington DC15) to live with my mother.
This year (2019) I had a type of brain surgery called: cerebral laser ablation surgery16 at the University of Miami Health System17 hospital, to remove a portion of my right temporal lobe18 for my epilepsy, and as a result, I now have far fewer seizures but I do still have them. It’s important for people to realize that surgery does not automatically mean "cure".
The second question by a lot of people after surgery (after “How are you feeling?”) was “How is your hair?” (there’s a reason one of my nicknames is Afro Mom!)! I’m looking forward to – but am a bit anxious about what the next few years will hold.
Epilepsy & Behavior19 – ScienceDirect20 - Obstacles of treatment of psychiatric comorbidities in epilepsy21
What’s saved me from my health difficulties and continuing seizures have been my children and my art. I have always had a not-so-secret love affair with art: it has saved me during the two major health crises’ over the past few years; from losing my sight and becoming legally blind to then being diagnosed with epilepsy. But, if I could do it all over again, I would change very little because each of the diagnoses’ developed my art journey in positive ways that I never could have imagined. I am now a full-time artist (as well as a full-time mom!): creating and being thankful for where these journeys have led me.
MOM | CREATIVE | ADVOCATE
1. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alyricalblog
2. Alyrical: https://www.alyrical.com/
3. Town of Palm Beach: https://www.townofpalmbeach.com
4. My Florida: https://www.myflorida.com/
8. Lauryn Hill: https://www.lauryn-hill.com/
9. What to expect: https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-trimester-of-pregnancy.aspx
10. Epilepsy Sparks: https://www.epilepsysparks.com/epilepsy-learning/different-types-of-seizure
11. Epilepsy Sparks: https://www.epilepsysparks.com/epilepsy-learning/what-is-epilepsy
12. Pixabay Shock: https://pixabay.com/vectors/blonde-comic-characters-female-1296489/#_=_
13. Pixabay OpenClickVectors: https://pixabay.com/users/openclipart-vectors-30363/
14. Pixabay: https://pixabay.com
15. Washington DC: https://washington.org/
16. University of Miami Health System: https://umiamihealth.org/sylvester-comprehensive-cancer-center/brain-tumor-initiative/laser-ablation
17. University of Miami Health System: https://umiamihealth.org/