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I Had an Epilepsy Seizure and This is What Happened

One man’s harrowing accident made him feel like a “loser.” But that’s just where the story starts.

"Lying on steel train tracks awaiting an oncoming freight train." That's how Stephen Huff describes the terrifying feeling of having a seizure. He experienced his first seizure at 19 years old after suffering a head injury on the soccer field in college. This was one of many "rumblings of the locomotive" that he would deal with in his life.

It was an important game for South Carolina's Anderson University because it would determine the Junior College State Champions. Stephen was ready to play his heart out to impress the professional scouts looking on from the sidelines. In the chaos of a play, he took a hard head-to-head hit from his team's center back, causing both of them to fall on the field in lifeless heaps. Stephen stumbled to the sidelines in a fuzzy haze, but since he seemed to be doing much better than the other player, who was still unconscious on the field, he assumed he was okay.

The rest of the game is a blur for Stephen but he does remember turning on the shower in the locker room after leaving the field. And that's when it happened. "I remember a rush of panic as my left arm drew up uncontrollably, what I know now is commonly referred to as 'fencer's posture' in this type of seizure. I was unable to speak, other than unintelligible stuttering. I remember trying to control my outstretched arm with the other arm but this was useless. I went to the floor, still cognizant to a degree. I felt a strong gripping inside of my face and left shoulder and then everything went black."

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The next thing Stephen remembers is being carried from the shower to his bedroom by his teammates. Semi-conscious and still unable to speak, he lay in his bed trying to understand what had just happened. When he put together that he had experienced a seizure, he figured it was brought on by the rough hit and would just be a one-time occurrence.

However, when his brother witnessed his next seizure at home, his family sprung into action to get him treatment. He was diagnosed with epilepsy by multiple doctors. The next 14 years were filled with more "doctors, neurologists, and prescription medical regimens" in an attempt to lessen the severity of these epileptic seizures.

Throughout the years, Stephen began to realize his epileptic seizures were triggered by extreme stress or temperature changes so he tried to avoid these whenever possible. He began to learn what it felt like when a seizure was coming, although there was no way to prepare for it. "I sometimes could feel them coming on which was like the electrical shock you would get from sticking your wet finger in an electrical outlet."

But the aftermath of a seizure was sometimes the worst part for Stephen. "After my episodes, I felt as though I had been the loser in a three-round boxing match. My head hurt and my whole body felt as though it was recovering from an automobile accident. My gums, tongue, and cheeks were often chewed and raw."

Stephen went to Shands Hospital in Gainesville for extensive testing, then underwent surgery to remove scar tissue in his left temporal lobe. That's when the rumblings of the locomotive finally quieted.

Now, he lives a happy and healthy life in Titusville, Florida. Stephen was medically studied and hired by NASA under the company's handicap program and he's been working there for over 30 years now. He got involved with soccer coaching when his daughters started playing youth sports and still referees for youth volleyball and soccer to this day. After his life-changing incident on the field many years ago, Stephen is an advocate for safe game play and has a deep interest and care for the health of his youth athletes. To live your happiest and healthiest life, don't miss these 70 Things You Should Never Do For Your Health.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah