One year after Olivia was born, she develops a skyrocketing fever that her mother Denise can't get under control. Denise calls her husband Jeremy to say that she is taking Olivia to the hospital.
Jeremy says "Hang on. I'll be right there."
Ten minutes later, Jeremy is home. They take her to the emergency room. They are taken in immediately. When they take Olivia's tempature, it is one hundred and three. She is immediately put on IV antibiotics. They run many tests on Olivia. One of the tests being a spinal tap. The results of the spinal tap concluded that Olivia had bacterial spinal meningitis. The doctors tell them "Olivia is too sick for visitors. Go home, and get some rest." Denise and Jeremy didn't want to leave, but they reluctantly take the doctor's advice. With four other kids at home and tomorrow being Thanksgiving, they decided to try to make things as normal as possible for the other kids. That meant continuing with things according to plan.
Jeremy talks to the kids to say that Olivia won't be joining them for Thanksgiving because she is too sick. Meanwhile, Denise is sobbing as she makes the green bean casseroles and pies. At the end of the night, Denise cries herself to sleep.
The next day, Denise gets up to prepare the turkey and stuffing. Once the turkey is stuffed and in the oven, she sits down to have a cup of coffee, and watch the Macy's Day Parade with Jeremy and the children. The youngest child Michael says "Mommy, don't be sad. It's Thanksgiving. You still have us."
Smiling with tears in her eyes, she touches his face, and says "I know, but it makes mommy sad when one of her kids isn't feeling good."
Michael lays his head in her lap, and says "I know mommy."
A few minutes later, she gets up to baste the turkey. Jeremy comes out to the kitchen to put his arms around her and say "How are you holding up?"
"As well as can be expected given the circumstances."
"Me too. I can't wait for the turkey to be done. It's starting to smell good already."
Smiling, she says "It is, isn't it?"
Denise is glad that she decided to have Thanksgiving. Having one happy moment amidst all this sadness, helped to lessen everyone's pain.
A few hours later, they sit down to eat. Nobody really felt like eating, but they did. They knew how hard Denise worked to make this a special day for them. While Denise was looking at and playing with her food, the phone rings. She answers it. She is greeted by "Hi, I'm Dr. Timothy Norton. One of the doctors responsible for Olivia's care. I just called to say that Olivia is out of danger. Her fever broke. You can come see her anytime now."
"Oh, thank you so much. That's such great news. We'll be there."
"Happy Thanksgiving to you as well." They hang up.
Jeremy confused, says "What was that all about?"
"That was the hospital calling. Olivia's fever broke, and she's out of danger. We can see her anytime now."
Jeremy rising from the table says "That's great. It looks like we do indeed have something to be thankful for." They embrace. Jeremy announces "Okay kids, let's finish eating. We're going to visit Olivia." The six of them finish eating at a hurried pace. They were all excited to see little Olivia.
Arriving at the hospital, they are immediately ushered in to see her. Denise picks up Olivia, and immediately begins talking to her.
Michael says "See mommy. I told you that you didn't need to be so sad."
Giving Oliva to Jeremy, she scoots down to pick him up, and says "I know you did honey." She then kisses him on the forehead, and puts him down.
The doctor comes in and says "She can go home tomorrow."
Together, they say "That's great. Thank you."
When visiting hours are over, they return home. They get the kids ready for bed. Once in bed themselves, they dream happy thoughts. They are at peace.
The next day comes, and it's time to pick up Olivia. Things were going great until a few days later, Jeremy started noticing some small changes in Olivia's behavior. He says to Denise "Have you noticed that she seems to stare a lot? I also think she has these twitching movements. I don't remember her doing that before."
"No, I haven't noticed, but now that you've pointed it out, I can see her doing it now."
They bring her back to the hospital. They tell the doctor "She's different than she used to be. She stares in space a lot, and she twitches a lot."
"It seems to me that you're describing a seizure disorder, but I will give you the number of a pediatric neurologist just to be sure."
They call the number they are given. It is answered as "Pediatric Neurology. How may we help you?"
"We were referred here by Dr. Timothy Norton. He said we were to ask for Dr. James Gilpatrick."
"One moment please."
"Dr. James Gilpatrick's office. How may we help you?"
"I need to make an appointment for my daughter Olivia. They think she has a seizure disorder."
"I can get you in a month from now."
One month later, Dr. Gilpatrick confirms the diagnosis. Olivia definitely has a seizure disorder called epilepsy. He starts her on a medical regimen that over the years, will need to be tweaked due to her growth spurts.
Olivia's seizures subsided with the medication, but gone was the bubbly child from before. She seemed so sad all the time. Like there wasn't any joy. Dr. Gilpatrick explained that it was a common occurrence on the medication.
When Olivia was old enough to start school, she did not make friends easily. Nobody wanted to be around someone that was different from them. This made her socially awkward, but all that changed in high school. In high school, she blossomed. Gone was the shy and awkward girl of the past. She became someone all the boys wanted to have. All the popular girls envied her beauty and her way with the guys. They wanted her to hang with them just so the boys would flock to them as well, but Olivia didn't need anybody. She pushed them away, and kept the boys at arm's length. There just wasn't anybody special enough until Chris.
Chris was tall with dark brown wavy hair, deep brown eyes that could pierce your soul, and a smile that could take your breath away. While she was at her favorite burger joint one afternoon, he walked in. She caught her breath. Never before had she ever described any male as beautiful, but there was no other word to describe him. He notices her looking at him. He comes over to say "May I ask what you're thinking about?"
Blushing with an embarrassed smile, she turns away.
He says "Nevermind. I think I have my answer. Would you like to get out of here, and grab a cup of coffee? My favorite coffee place is just a couple of buildings down."
As they are set to leave, he opens the door for her. She flashes him a smile that is a cross between an embarrassed smile and a smirk. When they arrive, she instantly knows what she wants to order. She says "I'll have a French Vanilla Cappuccino."
"Make that two."
They grab a table, and begin talking. Olivia then says "Before things go too far, I'm going to give you the opportunity to run."
"Why would I want to run?"
"Because I have epilepsy."
"I'm sorry to hear that, but I'm not running. You can't get rid of me that easily."
"Good, because I don't want to get rid of you."
"I know. I can tell. Do you know what you want to do when you graduate?"
"What I want to do and what I'm going to do are two different things."
"What do you mean?"
"I want to be a doctor, but with the epilepsy, I can't. I could go to school for anything, but I would never be allowed to practice. I mean, can you seriously imagine if I had a seizure in front of a patient? Doctors are supposed to take care of their patients, not the other way around. It would be a waste of time and money. Therefore, I'm thinking of becoming a teacher."
"It's sad that you have to plan around that, but I get it. I'm going to become an architect."
"That's great. You can draw that well?"
In two years time, they would be married.
Two months after they are married, at Dr. Cole's office (her adult neurologist), tells her he wants to send her for an MRI. After getting the MRI results, he says "There is scar tissue on your right temporal lobe. I don't want you to get too excited, but there is a chance you could have brain surgery, and be epilepsy free."
"I'd like to set you up with a consult in Boston, Massachusetts if you don't mind."
"Please do. I'd appreciate it."
They call her with the appointment. The consult is one month from now.
At the consult, Chris and Olivia meet Dr. Raphael Abraham. He tells them "In order to qualify for surgery, we will have to run three tests. The first one requires a hospital stay of five days.You will have to come off all your medication while you are there so we can determine where the seizures are coming from. To pass this test, the seizures must be coming from a place that's operable, and they must be coming from just one area since we can't take out everything. The results of this test will determine if the other two tests are needed. Are you up for that?"
"I'll set up the hospital stay for three months from now so that you will have no problem getting time off."
"Okay, sounds good. Thanks." They shake hands.
Three months later, she arrives at the hospital. On the third night into the fourth day, she has the seizures. They are recorded. The test determined that they were all coming from the right temporal lobe.
Back at Dr. Abraham's office, he explains that because the temporal lobe is responsible for memory, she will need to have the second test called the WADA test (Named after a doctor) to determine if she would lose memory by removing the right temporal lobe. If it's determined that you will lose memory from having the surgery, you will not qualify for the surgery. However, since yours is covered by scar tissue, we believe that you never used the right tempoeral lobe to begin with, and that the left temporal lobe compensated for the right.
They call her on the phone with the results. They tell her that the results concluded that she would not lose any memory by having the surgery. While on the phone, they talk about the last test. It is called a neuropsychology test.
A neuropsychology test measure motor skills. There is no pass or fail to this test. It is a measurement of where you are at. The combination of the three tests determined that Olivia would qualify for surgery. Olivia got to have that surgery five months later. The surgery was a success.
Two years later, at the age of twenty three with no seizures and medication free, she says to Chris "Guess what I did today?"
"What did you do?"
"I applied to undergraduate school. I'm going to become a doctor."
"That's wonderful honey. Congratulations. What field will you be in?'
"I'm so proud of you."
Twelve years later and still epilepsy free, Olivia Jean Anderson accomplished her dream. Her dream of becoming a doctor. Olivia was beaming with pride as she got to do what was once unthinkable. Accept her doctorate degree in front of her parents, friends, and siblings.