What my daughter’s epilepsy and Irma have taught me

September 6, 2017, will forever be etched in my memory. Around 11:00 am, I was in a neurologist’s waiting room, trying to determine the cause of my then 8-year-old daughter’s odd neurological episode. I stepped out of the waiting room twice, trying to talk to my family in STJ as long as I could as I knew category five Irma was closing in. This was the last time I spoke with my sister before the storm hit and it was also the time my daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy. Days later, I finally heard from my family. They were ok, but the island took a devastating hit. My heart crumbled. I cried for days.

I flew in one month post Irma (I now live in Maryland) and saw the devastation for myself. I returned a year later and noted that the island still had lots more recovery to go.  During my recent trip in August (two years post Irma), however, I saw tremendous progress – the vegetation was full and green, the corals were bouncing back, and lots of buildings were repaired.

telly-daughter-in-st-johnAs for my daughter, we’ve had a wild two years as we navigated her diagnosis, but thankfully, she’s been seizure-free for a year and 11 months. Her doctors are optimistic that she’ll outgrow her epilepsy.

I say all this because I’ve learned an important lesson – look for the rainbow. I’m sure this day (Irma’s anniversary) can bring back dark memories, but as I look back and see just how far St. John has come, how far my daughter has come, I’m choosing to focus on the beautiful “rainbow” that appeared after the storms. Sure, it may not be perfect. STJ is still recovering and I’m not sure if my daughter will outgrow her epilepsy, but nonetheless, STJ and my daughter are in a much better place today than two years ago. I hope that you, too, no matter what storm you have faced, will also see and find happiness in the perfectly imperfect rainbow that has emerged.

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