Anyone that knew Brianna, knew instantly that she was full of life and energy. In 2013 she began gymnastic classes and quickly moved up through the levels and competed. Everywhere you seen Brianna she was doing gymnastics. It could be hand stands in the grocery store, leaps from large landscaping rocks, or back-walkovers down they grocery isle. She couldn't be stopped! When Brianna's seizures were diagnosed in November of 2017, she would only have them every few months or so. By November of 2018 she was doing 18 hours in the gym and her seizures started coming more often. She finally decided to give up what she loved the most, and my heart broke for her. She lived and breathed for gymnastics!
After she gave up her gymnastics career, she decided to try diving. Brianna loved diving and she learned very quickly because of her gymnastics background. She competed in one meet and took first place overall on the 3M dive, and 2nd place on the 1M. She was doing so well, but then her seizures started happening at the pool. We determined that the cold water temperatures was effecting her and causing seizures. Who knew? I didn't! I never thought that cold water could be a seizure trigger. Needless to say, she had to give diving up too and my heart hurt for her again! I knew in my heart, though, that she needed that time away because with all the med changes, the side effects, the stamina loss, weight loss etc., that sports would eventually be too difficult for her to continue.
We just didn't understand how her Epilepsy could progress and cause her so many problems so quickly. With all these questions lingering, we and her Dr's decided it was time to do more testing.
The first test she had was a 5 day inpatient V-EEG. The results were astounding. Not only was she having the Focal Aware and impaired awareness, but she was also having seizures in her sleep and awake that were not noticeable to the eye. This new information helped explain so much in regards to the amount of loss (cognitive) that she is experiencing in comparison to the amount of seizures we could actually notice. With the new data that we have obtained, the Doctors believe she has had seizures her whole life. We was unaware as they do not present like the stereotypical seizure. Brianna does not shake, and sometimes we (or her) cannot tell she is having a seizure. Now, the seizures we can see are becoming more often and changing the way they present themselves. They are now doing more testing to see if she is a possible candidate for surgery to remove the malformation in her brain that is causing the seizures.
Over the last two years since her diagnosis, Brianna's Epilepsy has taken so much from her and become more progressive. She is now having difficulty with her memory, speech (word retrieval), and auditory processing. What is sad is the Epilepsy has taken so much more . Epilepsy has also taken her sense of freedom as she cannot be by herself anymore. It's taken friendships she had with her old teammates. It's taken her confidence away and the belief that she can do anything she sets her mind to.
Brianna recently was a recipient of a trip given by Chelsea's Wish through the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation to attend Epilepsy Awareness Day Disneyland Expo in California. There was so much good information there, but one thing that meant the most to Brianna was when she was able to meet the Service Dogs In Training at Domesti-Pups. Brianna sat with these precious dogs for almost two hours total, which could not have come at a more perfect time. The expo was very crowded, loud and just too much for Brianna and she was becoming very stressed (which is a seizure trigger for her).
Brianna has asked us about service dog since her diagnosis. We haven't been really sure on the best route to take and because of the financial burden, we wasn't sure how we would afford to get her one. After meeting Domesti-Pups and talking with multiple people at the expo, we now see that we have an opportunity to give Brianna something she really needs to regain some of the independence she once had.
Please consider making a donation or at least share Brianna's story with everyone you know. Not only is this a chance to get Brianna a service dog, but it's also a way to bring awareness to Epilepsy! We need all the help we can get!
The Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation has committed to a generous donation, but we still have a ways to go to meet the goal! Thanks so much for taking the time to read Brianna's Epilepsy Story!
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