Liv’s Embrace story - Maintaining positivity in the face of epilepsy
Despite having been diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 8, Liv always had the ambition to succeed in life. As a result, she decided to move out of her parents’ house to start college in 2014. It was the first time that she would ever be alone, but she didn’t let that stop her. However, following a big seizure, her parents went in search of solutions.
This is the story of Olivia, a 23-year-old college student who has epilepsy. In spite of this, she remains resilient and confident, going through life one day at a time, with her Embrace watch to help detect when she has a possible convulsive seizure and notifies her parents.
As a young woman who is working towards complete independence (but also lives with multiple medical complexities which makes that very difficult), technology like Embrace is a total lifesaver (figuratively and very literally).
I had a major seizure soon after I resumed college.
I moved out of my parents’ house to start college in 2014, and although I was only a half-hour away, that was the first time I was completely on my own. It was great, but when you deal with things like severe medical conditions, it can be scary and even dangerous. During the midterm of my freshman year, I had a huge intractable seizure while I was alone in my dorm. This episode was the first and only one that has ever stopped my breathing and required intubation. Luckily, ever since I was diagnosed with epilepsy at age eight, I have had auras or pre-seizure “feelings”, so I know something bad is happening. During that episode, I had an aura but was alone, and it took a long time to contact someone.
My dog moved in with me at college, and my parents found Embrace.
After that seizure, the idea of going back to campus or even being alone for a half-hour terrified me. But I had just started college, and I had my whole life ahead of me. This is when Augsburg (my dad) had the idea of Schatzi (my family dog and best friend of 14 years) to move onto campus with me as my emotional support animal to be my companion, keep me calm, and be there for cuddles when I needed it physically or emotionally. My parents knew how much college and living a normal life meant to me, so they did lots of research on how or what could help. They found Embrace.
It especially got their attention because there were multiple instances where they would call my phone, and if I didn’t answer after a while, they would understandably get very concerned. I was likely just taking a nap and didn’t hear my phone, but they understandably feared the worse. Many times, I was woken up by the Dept. of Public Safety knocking on my door saying that my parents had called and were worried because I wasn’t answering my phone.
Once I got Embrace, they didn’t have to worry as much because they knew that I was probably just sleeping. However, if I did have an epileptic episode, they would be alerted, whether I knew it or not. Having Embrace is nice because I don’t have to rely on my auras as warnings. I do get them and they are helpful warnings. However, with this device, it isn’t solely my responsibility (especially if I am mentally/physically incapable) to tell someone.
Embrace gave me the confidence to go back to campus and alerts my caregivers when I’m having a seizure.
I got Embrace a few months after that big, scary seizure, and it gave me full confidence when I was ready to go back to campus. Even now (5 years later), it has probably saved my life multiple times. As I said, I get auras with my seizures and can tell before it gets dangerous, but this watch monitors my body. When it senses psychological changes and shaking (from a grand mal seizure), it sends out calls and text messages to my caregivers: my parents, sisters, and brother. It alerts them that it has detected a possible tonic-clonic seizure and that I need help (go check on me, make sure I’m safe, get me meds, call 911, etc). It also sends them my GPS coordinates; this is probably the best part.
One time during my freshman year, I was in my dorm, and my brother-in-law got the alert with my location. Because of this, he was able to leave work, get to campus, find me, and get me to the hospital. Thank God because, by the time he had gotten there, I was in full grand mal and in no state to explain where I was or how to get to me.
I’m confident that I can be a successful young woman despite my epilepsy.
My epilepsy has evolved, fluctuated, and become more unpredictable over the years. With the Embrace and the support of my caregivers, my epilepsy support group, and eventually having a service dog, I am confident that even with epilepsy, I can be a successful young woman. The woman I wanted to be before epilepsy. But I’ve also realized that epilepsy, as scary as it is, has made me even stronger; I am a strong, successful young woman who just happens to have epilepsy.