Beth and her cousin, Abby, in Maine this summer.
This is part of a month-long series that my teen daughter and I are writing about her life and learning to live with epilepsy. To start at the beginning, click here.
After the terrible, horrible, no-good year, Beth was able to finish 7th grade at home. Her neurologist and I worked hard to identify seizure and stress triggers and it wasn't difficult to see that school was a huge stress in her life and we needed to change that. You can read a tiny bit of why in this post - Dealing with anger.
We had applied for an in-district transfer to another school during 7th grade and it was denied. This time, I wrote a lengthy letter with the transfer request detailing her medical history and how her treatment at her current school was detrimental to her health.
As difficult as it was to think of moving her for her last year of middle school, her health had to take priority. Along with changing her school environment, her neurologist recommended further testing with a pediatric neurologist at a children's hospital in Indianapolis. So over the summer, she and I went to Indy three times for tests and hospital stays. We got second and third opinions on medications and side effects.
We've also found other support systems for her along the way, but the most important thing we did was simply let her relax and recover as we slowly added meds back into her system.
Our trip to Maine this summer included almost an entire week with my extended family and I don't think any of them will ever know how restorative that trip was for her. She laughed and laughed and simply had fun. And hugs! She loves hugs and she and her cousins and grandmother and aunts just hugged and snuggled for a week. It was exactly what she needed.
She's now two-and-a-half months into 8th grade at her new school. She's back on Keppra, along with a second drug, Onfi. She's still having some partial seizures and an occasional grand mal seizure but she's much, much better than she was six months ago. Because she's extremely sensitive to side effects, we can't simply increase her meds until her seizures stop like many other epileptics can. We have to keep her stress level very low and protect her from triggers as much as we can because her dosage has to remain fairly low.
She still gets very sad sometimes about missing her friends from the old school but we're trying to see them on weekends as often as we can. And she's made wonderful new friends.
The new school is quieter, less chaotic, and the teachers have much better classroom control than her previous school. There is a larger emphasis on academics and reading and the students are challenged to learn in every class, not just the honors classes. It's a much better environment and the best part is that they have an honors orchestra, as well as an advanced chamber orchestra. Perfect for her!
Next year brings high school and even more challenges but we've learned not to back down from them and to take things slowly.
We will be back later with a final post to wrap up this series.
*If you'd like to read all of our 31 Days posts about living with epilepsy, click on the button on the sidebar or start here. And if you're wondering what the heck is going on and who Beth is, click here. :)