Shedding An Artistic Light On Seizures

By Scott Sarvay
By Max Resnik

March 21, 2011 Updated Mar 21, 2011 at 5:39 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - It began at the age of three- a bout with encephalitis, an irritation and swelling in the brain that led to the development of scar tissue on her hippocampus, the body's memory bank- and it was at the age of three that Sarah Brown had her first epileptic seizure.

"I had three in that night, the Clonic Tonic Seizures, which are the Grand Mall Seizures, the big ones affect your whole body and you start convulsing," says Sarah Brown.

"It was so upsetting that I couldn't even call 911. And I rode with her in the EMS and she had another one on the way there and she had one at night there at the hospital," says mother Becky.

This night would leave a lasting impression on Sarah and her family. She wouldn't however have another seizure until the age of 12 and as her body began to evolve, so did her epilepsy. It was in college that her epilepsy dominated her life.

"I had so many seizures. I was seizing three or four times a week," says Sarah.

These weren't your typical seizures. Caused by fatigue, Sarah could have them sitting in class or even walking. To the outsider, it appeared as though she was just staring off into space.

"It was a danger though, if I was walking to class or you know just out in the streets and just randomly have one, because no one could help me."

Dr. Stephen Hantus with the Cleveland Clinic took a keen interest in Sarah's case. It was his enthusiasm and expertise that allowed he and a team of doctors to remove part of Sarah's right temporal lobe. It was a move that completely changed her life.

"She was having big trouble in school because she wasn't able to concentrate because she was on five different anti-seizure medications. However, after we did the surgery, we were able to taper her medication and what she told me was her artistic talent bloomed," says Dr. Hantus.

Sarah has been taking her experiences and putting them to use through art. "The Seizure" is one item in particular that Sarah is actually donating to the Epilepsy Foundation of Indiana. One of the themes that you notice is the check board theme. You see that it's in two different places and Sarah says that's because someone with epilepsy is playing a game. It's like losing a battle against epilepsy, but since her surgery Sarah says the checker board is together and she's now winning the game.

Sarah says, “I want them to know that when they look at my art, especially this piece, that they aren't alone."

Nearly two-million Americans suffer from the effects of epilepsy and few can describe how they feel. By shedding light on her battle with epilepsy, Sarah hopes to provide the guiding light that she follows for others like her.

"I sent it to my doctors and then they had shown it to their colleagues. They said that I described what they see in their patients’ everyday. I have several friends who've looked at it and they go this feels like my aura or that feels like my seizure. That's I mean amazing because I want them to know that," says Sarah.

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