College & Epilepsy: A “Thank You” From the Token White Girl

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I was deemed the “token white girl” by one group of friends in college. I did stick out quite a bit amongst my roommates- I lived with Marissa (Filipino), Kira (Japanese), and Jen (Chinese). Plus, one of our closest friends, Anagha, is Indian. (Naturally, they were all brilliant.) I definitely learned how to distinguish ethnicities from last names that first year. And, I ate more rice over those four years than any other Caucasian. Seriously. Ever.

But those girls, specifically Jen and Kira, were with me from the beginning. It was in our cramped dorm room of three that I had my first seizure. We were just getting used to each other and then I pulled this trick out of my hat. lol Kira was quieter and I’m sure I overwhelmed her with my personality and Jen was tiny but spunky (she turned me on to TuPac. Go figure.) And even though initially we all had our reservations, I couldn’t have been luckier to be paired with them that first year.

Although Marissa and Kira were always there to help me, and definitely did their fair share of taking care of me (Marissa’s the reason I met my husband even), it’s Jen who I carry a soft spot for… I particularly remember 2 days before my 21st birthday; I was getting ready to go to class. I thought I was alone, and I felt fine. Then at 10:40 am, I started to feel “Light headed, was brushing teeth and couldn’t control arm. Went into bedroom to put on make up and head started ticking and eyes darting, she fell down on the floor biting tongue. Could see herself in mirror flailing around; she turned herself from her back to her stomach knocking over the lamp. She crawled or scooted herself to cry for help. She said it seemed like a long time. She bit her tongue and had rug burn on her chin…” etc. That’s according to my Mom’s notes. Pretty right on for the factual play-by-play…

That was probably one of my most traumatizing seizures because I could see myself. I know what I’m “supposed” to look like but I’ve never actually witnessed it. I looked possessed, and blurred. I remember wearing a baby blue tank top and white pants, both of which had make-up splattered across them by the time I was finished. And the lamp was one of those floor lamps. A black and white Ikea casualty (sorry Kira) in my uncontrollable state. I don’t know how I managed to turn on my stomach but I did- I hated what I saw in the mirror, especially upside down it was even more gruesome. I couldn’t look at it anymore. I was crying for help in my own head but of course nothing came out. Jen’s room was across the apartment and luckily she heard my incoherent blubbering after I dragged myself to my door, and she came running. Immediately I felt calmer. It’s the “aloneness” that terrifies me. She took care of me. Her 90-something lb frame got my tall, 130 lbs onto my bed and called my Mom. She told me I’d be okay. Stayed with me. Gave me reassurance and peace. Thinking about her support that day always brings tears to my eyes… I am so grateful for Freshmen year random dorm assignments.

You know, she’s a doctor now. And I’m sure that tiny little frame continues to carry the weight of others with more grace and impact than she knows. Thanks Jen. :)

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