The teenage years can be a ride on a roller coaster for a lot of kids, but for some it’s a little more rough than for others. Emily Carreras, a 9th grader at Analy High School, definitely fits into the “having it difficult” category, with an onset of Gelastic Seizures at the age of 13.
It took her family a while to figure things out, because these seizures weren’t the kind where a person falls to the ground and begins convulsing. They were more like “laughing or crying,” attacks, that were happening countless times per day.
“When I called the doctor and explained the situation, they felt that it was normal for a 13-year-old to giggle uncontrollably,” said Emily’s mother Michelle Carreras.
It wasn’t until Emily went to a friend’s house whose father was a doctor that they were instructed to get in touch with a neurological specialist. Emily eventually ended up at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford where she received a diagnosis and treatment plan.
“The type of seizures she’s having (Gelastic) are very rare, and only 1 in 4,000 people have them,” said Carreras about her daughter’s condition.
Doctors told Carreras that the potential trigger for the seizures was hormones and Emily was having 18 to 25 seizures a day, with a number of them happening in her sleep. Currently, Emily’s treatment plan includes taking three different types of medicine three times a day.
“They make her emotions flat and it’s like trading evils,” said Carreras.
But doctors explained to Carreras that with each seizure, a path is created in the brain, and that path must be blocked for the brain to continue to function properly.
“It’s been hard having her go through this right before high school. It’s such a big jump from middle school, and hard for any child to feel comfortable. For Emily it’s even more challenging,” said Carreras.
But despite the hardship there was a beam of light in Emily’s summer. She was selected by the Sunshine Foundation, which answers the dreams of chronically ill, seriously ill, physically challenged and abused children, to be the recipient of an all inclusive trip to Disneyworld with her family.
“My favorite part of the trip was going on the Safari Ride at the Animal Kingdom,” said Emily.
The Carreras family stayed at Sunshine Foundation’s Dream Village, an oasis for families with special needs children.
In honor of her trip and in an effort to spread a little epilepsy awareness, Emily has decided to forgo gifts at her Quinceañera celebration in March.
“Guests will be asked to wear purple,” said Carerras and Emily has decided to ask for donations to support the Sunshine Foundation instead of receiving presents.
“Making donations can help support the dreams of other kids like me,” said Emily.