Epilepsy

Women’s Health Week: Ginny reflects on motherhood and “the perfect storm” of epilepsy and mental health conditions

In honor of National Women’s Health Week, Team of Advisors member Ginny (Mrslinkgetter) shares what it’s like to live with multiple health conditions – including major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder and epilepsy – as well as grief following the death of her son (who also had epilepsy and major depression). On PatientsLikeMe, hundreds of members report living with epilepsy along with depression and/or anxiety. “I’ve had anxiety from my earliest memories,” she says. In her early 30s, she also began experiencing MDD. She was dealing with a move, very active children, and worsening migraines, pain and other symptoms. “It was the perfect storm,” she says. Read on for more of her story, plus her tips for women dealing with multiple health conditions in their family. My name is Ginny. I had 12 years of misdiagnosis, until I was appropriately diagnosed with epilepsy, psoriatic arthritis, major depression and anxiety. In the middle of dealing with my own health issues, my son was diagnosed with epilepsy. I felt overwhelmed – extreme exhaustion beyond the norm for a mom and wife. When I started Topamax, a seizure medication for my epilepsy, it raised my anxiety and I told my neurologist I …

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Meet Ginny from the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors

Say hello to Ginny (Mrslinkgetter), a case manager and family partner with Youth Mobile Crisis Intervention living with depression and epilepsy.  She’s also a member of the 2016-2017 Team of Advisors. Check out what Ginny had to say about living with depression and epilepsy, the loss of her son, and how being her own advocate and the support of others helps her deal with stigma: What gives you the greatest joy and puts a smile on your face? My first greatest joy that puts a smile on my face is spending time with my granddaughter! (She is 2 and the cutest girl on the planet by my biased opinion!). My second greatest joy is connecting with people using either my journey with chronic health issues, or my son’s and being able to help them. I often edit my son’s story a bit if I believe the way his life ended might cause more harm to them, especially my clients. What has been your greatest obstacle living with your condition, and what societal shifts do you think need to happen so that we’re more compassionate or understanding of these challenges? People have pre-conceived ideas about depression, anxiety, and seizures and even …

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In her own words: Letitia shares about her new brain for Epilepsy Awareness Month

Have you met Letitia (Letitia81) from the epilepsy community? Four years ago, her research on PatientsLikeMe led her to the brain surgery that forever changed her life — she’s now seizure-free after three decades. Things are much different now for Letitia, and she’s written all about her before and after in a recent article for WBUR (Boston’s NPR news). And as it’s National Epilepsy Awareness Month, we’re passing along her firsthand account of her new normal below. Check it out. After 3 Decades of Seizures, Life with My New Brain By Letitia Browne-James I was 31 when I began to think with my new brain. I’d been diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 11 and struggled with forgetfulness, interruptions in my thoughts and a lack of focus my entire life. I didn’t know that these were classic signs of brain fog, a symptom of epilepsy. I knew that my classmates seemed to grasp math and history more quickly than I did. Sometimes, I felt like I couldn’t understand things completely, no matter how many times I read or listened to my teachers’ explanations. It was a terrible feeling. I had seizures, too, and they worsened as I grew older, appearing …

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“I am working on all of it slowly” — Member David opens up about his experience with PTS

Meet member David (david61060), a United States Air Force veteran who’s living with multiple conditions including PTS, sleep apnea, and epilepsy. When we caught up with him, David shared what it was like to grow up as a “navy brat,” his experience in the military, and how It took him more than nine years to admit to himself that he had PTS. Below, see what he has to say about triggers, coping with more than one condition, and the value of connecting with others on PatientsLikeMe. Tell us a little about yourself. To tell you about myself … well I was a navy brat and grew up mostly around just military kids and people connected with the military, every 3 to 4 years moving to a new base. Except in the 70s we stayed in the Republic of Panama for 6 years, leaving there in 1976. I was 16 — that was the hardest move. First year of high school … leaving behind a lot of friends that I knew I would never see again. Moving to California and graduating high school, I went into the Air Force. In my 15 years I saw a lot and did a lot …

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Your data doing good: The POEM Study

When you share your health data, we all learn Every minute of every day, people are sharing their health data on PatientsLikeMe. Some of you are focused on tracking how you’re doing over time. Many want to make sure the next person diagnosed can learn from your experience. All are contributing to the greater good, because what you share helps researchers see what patients really need. During #24DaysofGiving this December, we’ll highlight some of the most important things we’ve learned from data that members like you have selflessly shared, and all the good your data donations are doing. Here’s a great example: the POEM Study, which showed that the secret ingredient to managing your health may just be patients like you. PatientsLikeMe was founded on a simple idea: when patients connect with each other and share their experiences, they can learn how to better manage and treat their disease and improve their outcomes. Over the years, members proved this is possible time and again. But would a rigorously-conducted scientific study confirm what we already thought to be true? Our partner UCB wanted to work with us to find out. They helped to build and grow the epilepsy community on PatientsLikeMe …

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Epilepsy Awareness Month: The value in helping others

It’s November, which means it’s Epilepsy Awareness Month. During our #NotAlone campaign, we shared how PatientsLikeMe member Letitia’s experience on the site helped her feel less alone in living with epilepsy. Letitia (Letitia81), a member of our 2014-2015 Team of Advisors, explains: “I enjoyed connecting with others suffering from seizures and exchanged ideas about diagnostic tools such as the 72 hour EGG, treatments, triggers and the like. The most beneficial data that I found on this site was learning about epileptologists and more about epilepsy surgery. Prior to finding out about such a specialists, I continued to use the ineffective treatments given to me by general neurologists for 21 years. After doing some more research on the epileptology, I fired my neurologist and went to see the epileptologist in my area, who was able to perform special testing to accurately diagnose and recommend epilepsy surgery for my condition. As a result, I underwent pretesting last year for epilepsy surgery and after successfully passing all pre-test, I had my surgery (Left Temporal Lobectomy) on August 16, 2012 and have been seizure free ever since! My surgery was very successful and the chances of me having seizures again is very unlikely. I’ve …

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Getting to know our Team of Advisors – Letitia

You might recognize Letitia from her Patient Voice video and her PIPC guest blog, but did you know she’s also a member of the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors? Below, read what she had to say about living with epilepsy, her views on patient centeredness and all of her advocacy work. About Letitia (aka Letitia81): Letitia is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida and a National Certified Counselor specializing in mental health and marriage and family issues, who was diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age. Letitia consulted with doctors across different disciplines both nationally and internationally and did not find an effective treatment until she found out about epileptologists on PatientsLikeMe. Through consultations, she realized she was a good candidate for brain surgery and she underwent left temporal lobectomy August 16, 2012 and has been seizure free ever since. She successfully weaned herself off of Keppra this month under her doctor’s supervision. Letitia is very passionate about giving back to others, and recently met a young epileptic girl and inspired her to undergo the same life changing surgery, and so far she’s met with great results. In addition to helping the young girl and her family, people contact her …

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A bold choice to fight epilepsy

As originally seen on the Tampa General Hospital News Center website It was scary enough for Letitia Browne-James’ parents to witness their child’s epileptic seizures. But they were also frightened when a doctor suggested brain surgery for their 12-year-old. “My parents said ‘no way,’” Browne-James said. “It was a very scary thought.” They tried medications, the first step for most of the more than three million U.S. epilepsy patients. But Letitia, like almost a third of patients with epilepsy, could not find a medication that worked. And so for more than 20 years, Letitia fought a losing battle against epileptic seizures that slowly eroded her quality of life. Finally, at age 31 and desperate for a cure, Letitia took that final dramatic step: brain surgery. This is the story of her journey to become seizure-free. For thousands of epilepsy patients, brain surgery can be the best option to end seizures. But for these patients with uncontrolled seizures, Browne-James’ experience is typical. Most who eventually have surgery wait 15 to 18 years after diagnosis. Researchers estimate that well over 100,000 epilepsy patients are good candidates for surgery. But each year, only about 3,000 receive it. “Surgery is the most dramatic thing you can do …

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Taking control: from PatientsLikeMe member Letitia and our friends at the Partnership to Improve Patient Care

Many of you have already met Letitia. She’s part of the PatientsLikeMe epilepsy community, and from her Patient Voice video to Twitter (@Pulchritude81), she continues to be a rockstar when it comes to sharing her experiences and advocating for patient centered research. Her latest efforts focused on patient empowerment where she headlined a webinar with our friends at the Partnership to Improve Patient Care (PIPC). She followed that up with a post on PIPC’s blog and we wanted share what she had to say. Check it out below. “My name is Letitia Browne-James, and I have had epilepsy all my life. Until I started to empower myself about my own care I was unsure that I would ever be cured. After my illness continued to get worse and the seizures more violent while I was trying to live life, I decided to look online for possible solutions because my experience with previous doctors continued to be frustrating and led to dead ends.. Finally, after a few months of research , I was equipped to ask the right questions, to demand better treatment, and even undergo a surgery that I originally didn’t even know existed. At the age of 10, I was formally diagnosed …

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PatientsLikeMe members to be highlighted in patient empowerment webinar

Many PatientsLikeMe members talk openly about the reasons why they donate their health data and why they believe patient-centered healthcare means better healthcare for all. And just a week from now, two of them will be sharing their stories with everyone in a live webinar. On Tuesday, January 20th, at 2:00pm EST, the Partnership to Improve Patient Care (PIPC) is hosting their first “Patient Empowerment Webinar,” an online event focusing on the importance of patient engagement in their own healthcare and in health policy. Two PatientsLikeMe members, Ms. Laura Roix and Ms. Letitia Brown-James, will be participating in the discussion, and their experiences will be a part of the webinar. Here’s a little bit about Laura and Letitia, and more ways they’re already empowering others: Laura is a member of the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) community on PatientsLikeMe, and she recently traveled to Maryland to speak at the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Patient-Focused Drug Development Public Meeting on IPF.  Laura went with our very own Sally Okun RN, VP of Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety and spoke about her journey and what it’s like to live with IPF. (She recapped her experiences in an October blog interview.) But that’s …

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