Young lady’s epilepsy diagnosis strengthens family bond

11.9 Maggie 2 to use

Since her diagnosis with epilepsy, Maggie Williams has developed an inseparable bond with King, who instinctively began alerting her family to seizures. Maggie and King are in the process of training and testing for King to be officially classified as her service dog. Photo credit: Michael Renew

 

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Life can change forever in an instant. This is a harsh reality that was faced in 2008 by David and Selena Williams when their daughter, Maggie, was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 15.

“According to the doctor, she has it all. She has 36 out of the 40 types of seizures,” Selena said. “They have put her on just about every seizure medication there is to try control her seizures, but it hasn’t worked.”

Maggie has been doing better since being hospitalized in August, her mom said. Previously, she was experiencing up to eight seizures daily, but with changes to her medications, she has perhaps six to eight grand mal seizures weekly.

“It’s been cut down a whole, whole lot. They started working with a lot of her medications because she was on 11 different ones. They took her off of some and reduced some others,” Selena said. “Even though she’s down to six to eight grand mal seizures a week, she’s still having all the different types of seizures. She still has all the other symptoms that comes along with it. We’re not going through eight grand mal seizures a day, though, and I’m so thankful for that.”

Selena said they never know what to anticipate from one day to the next, and that their lives have changed in ways they never imagined.

“It’s scary. It really is. As a mom, I don’t really even know how to answer that besides saying I’ve had to change everything. We’re still adjusting and working with how to deal with everything,” she said. “I guess the biggest impact it’s had on my life is knowing there’s nothing I can really do to help my child. You know, as a mother, you try to fix everything for your kids. You’ll do anything it takes to make things right for your kids, but there’s nothing I can do.”

Despite the challenges and uncertainty every day brings, the Williams have found help they never could have anticipated – from their family dog, King.

“He started behaving very strangely. He started barking a whole lot more and running back and forth between us and Maggie,” Selena said. “He was doing things that I didn’t even realize to alert us that Maggie was fixing to have a seizure. He would run and jump on our bed, sit there and look at us, so, from then on, I have been able to watch King and how he acts around Maggie. I know that about 10 minutes after he starts, Maggie is going to have a seizure.”

They have been working with local expert Kerri Gebler, but Selena said King is not yet able to be officially classified as a service animal.

“It’s like Kerri said, he’s already trained himself to deal with her seizures. He’s just got to learn a few more things like how to not hurt her when she has a seizure,” she said. “I’ve never seen a dog firsthand to do it. I’ve heard of service dogs for the handicapped and the blind, but a seizure dog that actually deals with the seizure when someone is having them? King is amazing. God knew what he was doing when he let David bring those dogs home. I don’t know where we’d be now if it wasn’t for King. He’s actually saved her life on several occasions because of him alerting us and how he is with her when she has a seizure.”

Maggie and King have developed an incredible bond, one that cannot be shaken by her medical condition.

“He’s been kicked, he’s been hit, he’s been bit. I mean, if I was King, I would run and hide, but it doesn’t matter what happens to him when she has a seizure. King always runs back to her,” Selena said.

King has also given Selena and David a greater sense of peace than they knew was possible under their family’s circumstances.

“It helps her to know he’s with her. It’s a comfort. That’s why we’re trying so hard to get the funds to train his public access training and his public access vest and everything else we have to do. When we leave this house, he knows he’s supposed to be with Maggie and Maggie knows that she’s supposed to be with him. Until we finish up with all the public access needs, there are places Maggie can’t go because King can’t go with her,” she said.

With the improvements Maggie has already made, her family is hopeful that will soon become even greater.

She has now been approved for treatment with low-THC cannabis oil and Selena hopes Maggie will soon be able to begin that treatment. She said her doctor is hopeful he may be able to discontinue her other prescription medications.

Thoughout this time, Selena has not only worked to care for Maggie, but also to help educate the public.

“I didn’t know anything about this until Maggie started having seizures back in March 2008. It’s been seven years now,” she said.

Unfortunately, many false perceptions about epilepsy and other seizure disorders remain.

“I have had a lot of issues. We went to Wal-Mart one day and Maggie had a seizure. I had a mother walk up behind me who told her child not to get too close to her because Maggie was contagious and she could get it and die,” Selena said.

To fight this, Selena has created a Facebook page to help educate the community. It can be found at Facebook. com/Ga.purplepeacheseap.

If you are willing to financially assit Maggie and King with the remainder of his public access training and vest, you may call 678.895.768. Donations may also be made through PayPal at ga.purplepeacheseap@ yahoo.com.

 

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