In Feb 1995 my then 6yr old daughter Mallory was diagnosed with Petit Mal Epilepsy. As I sat in the Neurologist's office and heard those words, I felt helpless and never so frightened in my entire life. My daughter, epilepsy, what? How? When? And WHY? Fear gripped me as I left the office and I cried the whole way home. That fear was of the unknown. I vowed to read everything I could about her condition. Petit Mal Epilepsy causes Absence Seizures. It is caricaturized by blank staring lasting anywhere from 5 to sometimes 60 seconds. The doctor told me she was probably having hundreds a day, I only noticed the longer lasting ones. The neurologist prescribed Depakote. She began taking it and after a week I never noticed another seizure. But she would have to be monitored regularly with blood tests. Depakote is liver toxic and they had to make sure that not too much was getting into her liver. I don't know what scared me more, the seizures or the medicine. Watching an absence seizure was extremely scary, I always feared that she would never come out of it. But I gave her the medicine, the seizures stopped, and all seemed well.
The medicine was not without side effects. She couldn't take it on an empty stomach, and I noticed her appetite skyrocketing. The poor kid was always hungry. They monitored her liver, and everything seemed to be fine. The doctor had told me that kids with this type of epilepsy eventually grow out of it and in a couple of years we would try to slowly wean her off the medicine to see if she had outgrown it. So she lived with prescription medicine day in and day out to control the seizures.
In late 1996 things were rolling along smoothly, medically speaking for Mallory. The seizures were a faint memory as the medicine continued. Then in complete disbelief I felt a sense of deja' vue as I watched my youngest, Kelly then four, have a seizure. I knew exactly what I was looking at. I knew immediately what it was. I just couldn't believe it! How could my baby have this too? I called the neurologist to set up an appointment. She seemed very skeptical that Kelly would have it too. Why do doctors do that? Why don't they believe parents? I know my kids, and I definitely had seen enough seizure to know one. Sure enough, the EEG came back to show the doctor she was having them even more frequently than Mallory ever did! So, same procedure, she prescribed Depakote. I took my little one home and started giving her the medicine. Within a week however, things were not at all fine like they had been for Mallory. My sweet wonderful little girl had turned into a monster!!! And the seizures were still very noticeable. She was defiant, angry, and not at all herself. I called the doctor only to be told to give it more time. Well I did, about three more weeks and she wasn't at all my sweet little girl anymore and the seizures continued. I called the doctor again and this time she agreed to see us. I told her all about how the medicine had changed her and was not helping at all!!!!! I really feel she didn't fully believe me. But she changed the medication anyway. I honestly don't remember what to but this one was just as liver toxic as the first. I remember reading in a patient drug fact book to contact your doctor if the seizures didn't stop; you could be damaging the liver and not helping the epilepsy. This new medication was just as bad as the first, only this time Kelly was waking up in the middle of the night screaming with horrible nightmares. My heart was broken for my little girl. What was I doing to her? Giving medicine that could possibly damage her liver and yet wasn't even helping what it was intended for?????
By Feb of 97 I was interested in herbs and vitamins having gone to my local health food store in search of an alternative to prescription medicine for my sinuses. That is a complete other story, but just suffice to say I was very interested in the possibilities of what herbs could do. After all, it made sense to me that God would put on this earth what we need to heal ourselves. So I began to think that there could possibly be something out there natural to treat my little one. Why not try it? The prescription medicine was not helping one bit, and to me it was hurting her. I obtained the name of a homeopathic physician from a great guy that owned my local health food store. I called and made a very expensive, non-insurance covered visit, which was the best money I think I have ever spent on health care. This homeopathic physician spent hours with us. Pouring over the personality, likes and dislikes, and overall health of Kelly. Writing down everything and studying it. Mind you at this point I was still slightly skeptical, but willing to try anything. You have to be opened minded. There is a whole other world of health care out there. She "prescribed" what she referred to as a remedy. One tiny little pill dissolved in distilled water. She wanted me to monitor any changes I noticed at all, in her eating/drinking habits, her sleeping, her body temp, any and all changes I recorded for her to look over. In fact I faxed her a list of things I noticed, any changes in seizures, the following week. We went back to see her after a month. By now I had very slowly weaned Kelly off of her prescription medicine. You can never, ever just stop any antiseizure medicine abruptly!!!!! That medicine works with brain waives and can't be stopped cold turkey. So I did it slowly. I felt in my heart that it was the right thing to do since it wasn't helping the seizures anyway.
By the time we went back to see the homeopathic doctor Kelly's seizures had changed a bit. She was still waking up in the middle of the night. I personally think it took some time to get the prescription medicine out of her system. But the change in her seizures was this- before the remedy her seizures would be a blank stare, no movement, talking or anything. Now I was noticing movement, garbled speech. It was as if she was trying to work through them. Break through them if you will. Now mind you she had had only one of these remedies. When we went back to see the homeopathic doctor she said to go home and give her another. Side effects from this remedy were two that I noticed and the doctor told me about. Dry itchy skin and a cough that only lasted about a week after I gave them to her. These I could deal with!!! Within another couple of weeks Kelly started sleeping through the night again. I was overjoyed! The following visit we went over again any changes I saw in her, in the seizures and otherwise. Homeopathic physicians deal with the whole person, not just the problem. At that time she decided to change remedies. Again, one little pill, this time under her tongue. Now, before you think I was just blindly giving my child a pill without knowing what it would do or what it was, I wasn't. Again, knowledge is your best defense. After the first visit I went to the library and read everything I could about homeopathic medicine. Everything I read told me it was perfectly safe and even if the remedy given didn't help at least it wouldn't hurt. I am purposely not going to say what remedy was given here; I don't want to give the wrong impression in saying that this remedy cures epilepsy. First of all what remedy one person would take would not necessarily be the same one another would take. Remember that homeopathy treats the whole person. This last remedy given to her turned out to be the one. No, my Kelly's seizures did not stop completely. There is no cure for Petit Mal Epilepsy. But her seizures went from lasting 40-50 seconds to 5 seconds. I would say that is a MAJOR improvement, and one that I could live with. She was back to being my sweet little girl, sleeping through the night and was not on a liver toxic medication.
She is now 6 1/2. I give her the remedy every 5 to 6 weeks or so. I have been noticing a change in seizures in the last two weeks. She is trying to talk through them again. I am hoping this might mean she is maybe growing out of them. I am currently praying this is so. I am sure most medical doctors would call me crazy. Say I should have her on prescription medicine and having her monitored with EEG's regularly and all. Sorry, I don't need a test to tell me if and when she is having them. A mother knows! And what I know is that natural medicine works gently, quietly, without all the side effects. I know my Kelly is better off than she was, and that someday the seizures will stop altogether.
For Mallory the medicine worked. When I felt it was time I slowly weaned her off the Depakote and I never saw another seizure. The doctor wanted me to take her for another EEG, but why? I could tell if she was having them or not. She has completely grown out of the epilepsy. Thank God. I hope and pray the Depakote she took for two years have no long-term effects. Please don't take this story the wrong way. I would never advocate going to a medical doctor and throwing away all prescription medicines. But I really feel there is a place for alternative medicine in our lives and that sometimes it could be the better choice. I have been treating my children's colds and aches and pains, normal childhood illnesses naturally for 3 years now. Not one of my three daughters has been on an antibiotic in all that time. If it's something I don't feel I can handle, you bet I call the doctor. I'm no expert, but I read everything I can to try to treat my children and myself with natural means. What is irritating is that medical doctors don't read up. Not once did that neurologist talk to me about what vitamins were important to a person with epilepsy. Once I started to read about it I learned all sorts of things! Herbs and vitamins will be a huge part of my family's lifestyle forever!