Living with epilepsy

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Unless you're a doctor or a nurse, chances are your knowledge of medical problems is limited to what you or a loved one has experienced.

That was the case for the Kate and Wyatt Black, who last year suddenly found themselves learning everything about seizures and epilepsy, in the middle of one of the scariest times of their lives as parents.

Brita Black is an independent toddler, especially when it comes to taking medicine.

"She takes it morning and night. She won't let us give it to her anymore. She insists on doing it herself," said Kate Black, Brita's mom.

The medicine, called Keppra, is an anti-seizure medication.

"It has very low side effects," explains Black.

Kate has done her research on this drug and other medical topics she never dreamed she would. It all started last April.

"She could not stay awake. She was about 18 months at the time and had been sleeping through the night by that time. I just thought it was really bizarre. I dropped her off at daycare and said keep a close eye on her, something seems off," said Kate.

Kate ended up picking her up early that day.

"I noticed her start to choke, turned a little purple," said Kate. "I thought she was maybe choking, but I wasn't really sure. A few seconds later she snapped out of it, laid her head down was so tired. asleep within seconds. I knew that was totally wrong. That was really scary."

Scary enough to prompt a trip to the emergency room.

"They ran every single test they could and everything was coming back normal," said Kate.

But as they were about to leave, Brita had another seizure.

"Doctors diagnosed her with a febrile seizure, which is common in children with a viral infection with high fever. She didn't have the fever, but she had the viruses," said Black.

Six weeks later, Brita seized again. During her hospital stay, she had seizures every 90 minutes. Each seizure lasted between a minute and three minutes. An MRI revealed scarring on Brita's brain.

"We don't know how she got it, where it came from," said Kate.

Brita was diagnosed with epilepsy. The daily medication should help control, and hopefully prevent, the seizures. Kate and her husband, Wyatt, have openly shared their story since the beginning. They hope that by sharing Brita's symptoms, and her new knowledge about seizures and epilepsy, they might help someone else.

Brita is doing well. Her mom says the medicine seems to be working. She adds that if you notice your child 'spacing out' with no recollection of that time span or your child suddenly becomes severely fatigued, talk to your doctor. She also says the Epilepsy Foundation website, epilepsy.com is a good place to learn more.