My name is Nick de Vries, 28 years old and I’ve been living for more than 20 years with epilepsy now. Epilepsy came into my life out of the blue when I was 8 years old. I had my first seizure at school when I was having a break and while I was playing on the schoolyard. The teachers brought me inside and called for an ambulance. After some researches I was diagnosed with epilepsy, but no one had a good reason for it. Because I’m the only one in my family which has epilepsy, it has always been a mystery. After some researches and scans it appeared that scar tissue in the Temporal Lobe was the reason of the whole problem. I didn’t have any accidents in the past, so that didn’t clarify anything.
When I was young, cars were a true passion of mine and I was able to recognize almost every car in the dark only by just looking to the rear lights of the car. When a neurologist tells you that you’re probably not allowed to get your drivers license, your world seriously collapses. At the age of 8 I didn’t understand every word of it, but I realized that my passion was limited to just watching and not driving cars. Through time I’ve learned to accept it, and I started having less troubles with it.
In 2011 I’ve started a study Mechanical engineering at the Hanzehogeschool university of applied sciences in Groningen, which is very hard. While I was studying my epilepsy affected my study a lot, especially when the exam-weeks were coming. For example, the seizure frequency increased from an average of 3 in a week to almost one a day. This made studying at home a lot heavier, because the level of energy does not meet the required level. Because of my epilepsy I was delayed, for example I barely performed my second year as I should, and due to fatigue and other effects caused by epilepsy I had weeks that I didn’t show up. For that reason it took me 6½ years to finish my study which is officially a study that takes 4 years. I feel blessed that I did finish my study though, and a lot of credits for that to my best friends and family and within that a special thanks to my younger sister which truly is an angel for me. If she wasn’t there for me, I probably wouldn’t have finished my study and sometimes I doubt whether I still would’ve been alive. She gave me a lot of support, as well mentally as well to explain me the rules within mathematics. She made me feel much better, also in the most terrible situations. At some points I seriously walked around with thoughts like: ‘it’s better to stop studying, because studying increases the level of stress in my life which is higher than the amount of advantages my diploma would give me’. But by talking with my sister I was always able to change my mind, even when she wasn’t around I just picked my phone and called her. She was always there for me, even if she was at her own place for her own study. She always wanted to make time for me
I believe in God, which always has been a source of strength for me. But when I said that I am a Christian, people often asked me: How do you relate your epilepsy with your religion? That’s quite simple to answer for me and I’ve got several arguments for that. I’m still alive, and my health condition is good (except for my epilepsy). Besides that, my mother travels a lot for her work to Africa by plane and a friend of mine also travels to China by plane almost once a month. Flying isn’t as safe anymore as it ever was, but the fact that God brings them home safely and healthy is one of my arguments. People often doubt that, so I tell them about the way I’ve experienced Gods hand in my life. God also promises to guide you on your way, by sending you people that will help you in difficult situations. Of course my sister is one of these angels, because without her I probably would’ve done terrible things to myself. Next to that: During my graduation time I’ve had 3 traffic accidents, in July 2017 I’ve had the last one. It was around 8:30 PM while I was driving my bike towards the sports club, and I had a seizure on the road where also cars and buses were driving. A little boy noticed that I had a seizure and also saw a bus coming that probably didn’t see me and would have crushed me. The boy stopped the bus and they called an ambulance because they didn’t noticed my safety tag around my neck which explains the situation. Later in the weekend on Sunday I was heading to church, and a pastor spoke about presence of God in your life. He asked everyone that was there: In which way do you see God actively in your life? It can be little things, it doesn’t always have to be the big things. When he said that, I remember that little kid that saved my life Monday evening. At that moment I saw that it was God that saved me and kept me alive like he promises as our shepherd. Because: Why would a little kid which was younger than 8 years old play outside alone at 8:30 PM while it is almost freezing? I don’t always convince people with these arguments, but they do understand my point of view and admire me sometimes.
I’m living on my own now since December 2017, which isn’t always safe. But the trick is to prevent yourself from getting into dangerous situations. We’ve made a couple of safety precautions like a system that detects whether I’ve got a seizure during the night, or covering the stairs which will prevent myself from falling downstairs when I have a seizure. The chance of getting seizure free by just using medicine is approximately 1-2%, but surgery isn’t possible. So I’m afraid epilepsy won’t leave me alone. But with a seizure frequency of average 3 a month I can be satisfied. When I have a seizure at night, my father gets a warning from the system and he’ll come over to my place as soon as the seizure takes longer than it normally would which makes living alone safe enough for me. That feeling of safety replaced a restless feeling, which also made me feel better.
I don’t have a job nowadays so life isn’t always cheering me up. But after a while there will probably be a possibility for me to get myself working. I also don’t have a partner, to be honest I’ve never had a serious relation. I don’t know why they always rejected me, but it feels disappointing. That also means that when you come home after bad day of work you don’t have someone to talk to or someone to give a hug. Thinking back at the time that I was a student, I barely went into town for a drink like fellow students did, because no one ever ask me. In the beginning it was hard to accept, and I always went alone, just once in a few months. But just looking into your life to what you don’t have is a great danger, because you should count your blessings and be happy with the things you have and which you have achieved. I’ve learned to accept it, and after a while I wasn’t the same person I was in the beginning, because I have some other words which lead me through life. And those words are also my message for people who are struggling these days:
Enjoy your life, don’t lose hope, don’t be restrained and don’t lose yourself into alcoholic or other things that affect your health!
I hope it all makes sense because English isn’t my native language :P. If you have any questions you can always let me know.