Living With Epilepsy

As a part of Disability Awareness month , dive into the life of Carina D’Orazio, a Sophomore a Mercy College that lives with Epilepsy.


She is in tears after a long day of classes. Trying to control her sobbing as her friends comfort her by the balcony between Founders and Hudson Hall. Like most college students, she is struggling to juggle her social life as well and maintaining her grades and feels as though she is under a lot of stress and pressure.

Suddenly, she sees nothing but darkness and loses control of her body. When she wakes up her friends inform her that she has suffered from a seizure. She has hit her head pretty bad and had also scraped her foot .

She has to stay a Westchester Medical for a few days to get stable and examined.

This scene was not new to Carina D’Orazio, a sophomore at Mercy College. Seizures, ambulance rides and hospital trips were something she has had grown used to since she has been diagnosed with epilepsy in 2012 when she was only twelve. Her friends were aware of her disorder, however to them this is the first time the reality of her condition has hit them.

“I found out I had epilepsy when I broke out in a seizure on my eighth grade field trip. I was stressed out because our hotel had bed bugs. I remeber telling my roommates if I have to spend another night there I was going to have a panic attack. They thought I was joking until  I flew to the ground and lost control of my body. Next thing I knew, I was on the floor and blacked out.”

When she woke up, there was a host of teachers surrounding her, asking if she remembered her name. They told her she had a seizure.

“I was scared because I was seven hours from home. My mom came eventually and she was just as confused as I was because this has never happened before. When I was brought to the doctors they gave me my first MRI scan and diagnosed me with the genetic case of epilepsy,” she said calmly.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness and is associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can be caused by a large amount of stress and can be regulated through medication.

“I have the genetic type of disorder even though I don’t know anyone in my family that has it. I just so happened to get the gene for it.”

Currently, there is no cure for it.

“I have to live with this disorder unless I have a major hormonal change, such as pregnancy,” she explains.

Living with this disorder is a challenge as any common stressors that all college young adults face can potentially cause a seizure, and even death for Carina.

“You’re constantly living in wonder of when the next seizure is going to be, and you can die from it, so it is really scary.  I never know if I will die the next time I have a seizure or how bad it’s going to be,” she said.

The Office of Accessibility offers Carina help by providing her with note takers since she suffers from memory loss from her disorder. She also needs ten to fifteen minute breaks during class to get water because she can have seizures from dehydration. Day to day life is a lot different for her than most, however she still stays optimistic and surrounded by loving friends and family.

“I wake up take my medication and get ready to go to class. I am always fatigued from all the medication but I try my best to get up and take it a day at a time,” she saids with a smirk.

Side effects from the medication she takes to control epilepsy causes mood swings and outburst.

“It’s hard keeping friends because they think your taking your anger out on them when in reality you really don’t mean it. Friends who can’t understand that I guess just aren’t your true friends. They say friends come and go but it has happened a lot more often for me, ” she said.

Carina is not embarrassed about wearing her disorder on her sleeve and  telling her friends about her epilepsy right away. In fact, it is important they know for her own safety.

“My close friends around me always have a plan and it helps me cope with the anxiety of not knowing when the next seizure will come. I also really trust my doctors and know typically my seizures last thirty seconds, ” she explained.

She also makes her friends aware of how to care  for her if they can’t get her immediate medical attention.

“When someone is having a seizure you put them on their side and don’t put anything in their mouth even if they are foaming at the mouth,” she saids.

Carinas favorite hobbies are to spend time with friends, binge watch Netflix shows and eat. She hopes to one day get into the field of Geriatrics.

“This summer I worked in a nursing home and I loved everything about it , God truly has a plan for everyone and I feel like I’ve found my calling caring for the elderly,” she saids with a smile.

Carina knows first hand what it is like to live with a disability. To those like her, she advises to not let what other people say get them down because everyone has their differences.

“I may have epilepsy, but it doesn’t have me, and that goes for anyone with a disability or a disorder.”