Epilepsy Isn't Going to Stop Me

05/12/2016 04:31 pm ET Updated Jun 08, 2016
Stacey Chillemi on the Dr. Oz Show for one of his segments
PHOTOGRAPH BY SANDALY KATYAL
Stacey Chillemi on the Dr. Oz Show for one of his segments

Born in New York and raised in Matawan, New Jersey, I had spent my early years trying to cope with my epilepsy disorder.   

At the age of five, my parents heard a funny noise from the other room, they went to check to make sure everything was all right just as any parent would do and found me in a grand mal seizure.  My lips were turning blue, my eyes rolled back and my entire body was shaking.  Stunned, full of fright and devastation they rushed to call emergency (911) and had rushed me to the nearest hospital for medical attention.  The doctors diagnosed me with (encephalitis) a virus that had traveled to my brain causing me to go into a coma for four days.  However, the doctors did not give up hope, but their prognosis was not positive either.  They thought when I did come out of the coma that I was probably going to have some degree of brain damage and there was a very good chance that I was going to be paraplegic.

My parents did not give up.  They sat by my bedside with hope in their heart and prayed knowing in their hearts that everything happens for a reason and that there was a purpose for me being on this earth.  On the fourth day, my father was praying by my bedside,  as he looked up he was stunned to find my eyes wide open and the first thing out of my mouth was “Can I have McDonalds fries?”   

The doctors were flabbergasted.  I had no brain damage, I was not paraplegic either, but when the virus (encephalitis) had traveled through my brain, it had caused scar tissue damage, which left me with epilepsy.  A disorder, which I live with every day of my life.

I did not give up. I left Matawan, New Jersey in 1992 to attend Stockton University in Pomona, New Jersey. I studied business, marketing, and advertising, as a student at the University. However, I could not escape the allure of writing and quickly began studying to become a writer. I began by reading every chance I had. From health & fitness, self-improvement, alternative medicine to inspirational books, my love to motivate and help others was uncontrollable. I wrote my first article for the Epilepsy Foundation of America and received hundreds of letters in response to the article.  Once I began writing, I never stopped.

 

<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Epilepsy-Youre-Not-Alone-Personal-ebook/dp/B000ZZ5NO8?amp=&ie=UTF8&keywords=stacey+chillemi&q
PHOTOGRAPH BY STACEY CHILLEMI
Epilepsy You're Not Alone by Stacey Chillemi

I wrote my first book after I graduated college. I decided to help others through my writing; I studied people and listened to their stories. "I became a student of life." A year later, I married a doctor and planted my roots in New Jersey. I then began writing books and opened up my own freelance writing business. My first piece was published in Epilepsy Foundation Magazine in 1994.

My first book, Epilepsy You're Not Alone, received wide acclaim and I earned several prestigious awards. Since that time, I penned over a dozen books and ebooks.

I am a mother of three, a wife and writer. My journey and reason for being is defined each day by the happiness in my children's eyes and the people with epilepsy and other illnesses I have helped through my writing. "Through this experience with epilepsy, I have learned to accept my limitations and to change the way I look at things. Through my writing, I am able to help others and just knowing I've helped someone is enough of a reward."

 

 

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Source: Original piece was written by Jenna Martin in third person in EpilepsyUSA in 2010; revised and edited by Stacey Chillemi 

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