If Tanja Stojanovska could have her way, her early experiences with seizures would be very different.
Tanja was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 5 and 31 years later diagnosed with Epilepsy. Her first seizure was twenty years ago but was attributed to her diabetes and low blood-sugar. Her second seizure happened a year ago, following brain surgery to remove three cavernomas. She was put on antiseizure medication after surgery and was taken off after her follow up since nothing occurred.
A teacher for 11 years, she thought all was well until she had a seizure while leading her students on a field trip through Kensington Market. The 2nd seizure happened a few months later while she was walking down the stairs of her apartment building. To make matters worse, despite having visited two hospitals as a result of her seizures, she never received a referral to Epilepsy Toronto.
“I was very disappointed,” says Tanja.
She found the agency herself online and began receiving counselling from our Adult Services staff. She also wanted to be connected with our Children and Youth Director, because one of her seizures had happened while she was leading a class trip. With the possibility that another one could happen at school, she wanted to educate the students and other staff members about seizures.
“With my students, it was closure,” she says. “It was nice for them to get the information from a professional and now they have the resources to turn to if they ever encounter somebody having a seizure.”
Tanja thinks that a referral to Epilepsy Toronto should happen whenever a doctor comes across an epilepsy diagnosis.
“The doctors that I encountered this year didn’t have enough time to give me any kind of information about epilepsy. It would have been great if I could have been given a card that said Epilepsy Toronto with contact information. Then I would know that there is an agency in Toronto that can give me information, guidance, counselling, and whatever else I may need.’”
For Tanja, while the internet has enormous amounts of information about epilepsy, it didn’t have the wealth of experience that a counsellor can provide.
“It was nice coming in contact with someone that was able to give me information, clarification and an opportunity to release pent-up stress and sadness; having someone that knows about epilepsy hear me and help me deal with it and provide me with answers to the questions that arose and may arise.”
Tanja’s belief in the importance of early access to counselling and support services has translated into her professional life; she recently recommended Epilepsy Toronto to community members in her school area.