We Are America

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Photo ofBen Hathaway
What is Epilepsy? Simply put, it's a condition where the brain has some sort of issue, which causes repetitive seizures. When I was younger, I actually had Photosensitive Epilepsy, so basically flashing lights could give me seizures if I looked at them for long enough. I didn’t have seizures often. It wasn't a day-to-day thing, so it really didn't affect me all too badly; however, when they did happen, it was scary. Not because I was scared of the seizure, but because I got so disoriented when I came to and it always freaked me out.
I remember once when I was eight or nine years old I was playing video games when I suddenly blacked out. When I woke up I felt heavier than lead. I couldn’t get back on my feet. I dragged myself out to the hallway on my stomach to find my mom. The one thing I remember most about the experience is the confusion; I had no idea what had happened, I didn’t know what to do, and I had no idea how to feel. 
Another time I was at school when suddenly my arms and legs became very heavy. I could hardly pick up my books and barely made it to my desk. The school nurse came and brought me to the next room where she decided to make me go home. I was confused again. Why does the nurse need me to go home? I was having a seizure then too except that time I was completely awake. None of the kids had any idea why I had to go. I didn’t throw up, I wasn’t hurt, and as far as they knew, I was completely fine. 
One more that I’ll touch on was when my family and I were eating dinner together and out of nowhere I blacked out and I hit my head on the corner of the table. Luckily I was completely fine, and I honestly don’t remember much about that one, but I know it absolutely terrified my parents. Imagine if your kid blacked out and smashed their head on the table? I’d be scared too.
I remember I was constantly afraid of having a seizure. If my eyes even felt heavy I would get worried and go to the nurses office. Looking back now, I was probably just tired. After the 4th grade I stopped having seizures, but my doctor kept me on my medicine just in case. Each day I took two tablets in the morning and two at night. If I missed a dose I remember my parents would always get on me for it. Other than that I lived my life normally, and by the time I was in 7th grade my doctor decided that it was time to come off the meds.
 I am now rid of Epilepsy. Some people aren't so fortunate; they have to live their entire lives with a condition. And there are so many more conditions that exist like Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, and Dementia which can appear as you age. And others like Autism, Cystic Fibrosis, and Down's Syndrome that are with a person at birth. So many diverse conditions and all so unique. When people think of human diversity they often think of Ethnic and racial diversity, but human diversity is so much more diverse than that! America is probably the most diverse country in the world, with people of every race, religion, ethnicity, and condition. Everyone is united by the fact that they are all different with different ideas, different beliefs, different conditions, different faces, different heights, different weights and different everything! Nobody can say for sure exactly what America is because everyone has their own idea as to what it is! My America is America because each person is a special piece in a sea of uniqueness. That, to me, is what makes America… America!

© Ben Hathaway. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.