I started having the seizures in seventh grade. Up until that point, I had been a straight-A student with plans to attend Mississippi State University and become a special-education teacher. But once the seizures started, they caused so much short-term memory loss that I could never pass high school.
My seizures came from both sides of my brain, so I was told that I was not a good candidate for brain surgery. In 2008, I got the vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). I had that for about three years.
In 2015, when I was 23-years old, I had surgery at Bonner Children’s Hospital in Memphis to implant the RNS System. I was the first person in the U.S. to receive the RNS System outside of the clinical trials.
After I had the RNS System implanted, I went from having six or seven seizures a week all the way down to just three seizures in a whole month. The seizures I do have now are less severe than the ones I had before. I used to black out and hit the floor. I can still talk during the seizures now, but I have to drag out my words. Still, most of the time, I could have a seizure in a room full of people and they would never know. I’m also able to bounce back more quickly from the seizures.
My father and grandfather are both barbers. When I couldn’t make it through high school, they encouraged me to try being a barber. I managed to make it through barber school and have worked as a barber for almost five years now.
I’m happy if I can give people hope by telling my story. When I met other patients at Bonner who were coping with epilepsy or other illnesses, I tried to encourage them. I told them, “Don’t give up. Have faith in yourself – because that is what it’s going to take.”