Sarah’s Story

Sarah Payne, College Student at Indian River State College.

Inside my head the pain was unbearable. It felt like someone had struck me with a brick. I was playing cards with my brothers when I started having a seizure. They thought I was kidding because I had just lost a hand during the game. I began shaking uncontrollably and they didn’t know what to do. After a few minutes I was tired but back to normal. Like after all my seizures, I took a nap and woke up feeling extremely rested. It’s the weirdest thing. In the beginning my mom thought I was fine, that there was nothing wrong with me.

Looking back, I can’t blame my mom. She is a caring person who has nothing but the utmost amount of love for her daughter. As a family we had no education on the warning signs of epilepsy. In March of 2005, I was in middle school eating lunch when I had my second major seizure. After the seizures, I had MRI and CT scans done. Then, I had a 24-hour electroencephalogram (EEG) test. Through all of the early studies done on my brain they found only one eight-second time frame of abnormal brain activity.

Later on that year, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. My primary diagnosis was grand mal seizure. I had a neurologist I became comfortable with who retired. For years, it seemed like I was on a carousel of physicians who couldn’t stop my seizures. By this time the seizure lasted three to four minutes long. It absolutely broke my mom’s heart when I suffered from the seizures. To add to my family’s heartbreak, the seizures continued. It was tough on me – all my friends were turning driving age and getting their driver’s license. I couldn’t get a driver’s license from the state until I proved to them that I could go at least six months without suffering a seizure.

I was an outpatient at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach for some more EEG and MRI tests, when a friend of my mom suggested I go for a visit to Dr. Juan Carlos Muniz, at Palm Beach Neuroscience Institute (PBNI). I still had seizures and by this time I had no faith in doctors. In fact, I was beginning to have a lot of seizures in a short amount of time. Some physicians talk down to patients, but from the minute I met him Dr. Muniz talked to me as a person and not as a patient. The staff at PBNI is wonderful and Dr. Muniz is a fabulous physician.

I am happy to say under Dr. Muniz’s care I have been seizure-free for several years. Dr. Muniz found out why the medications weren’t stopping my seizures. I was on a birth control that cuts down 50 percent of the anti-epileptic drugs I was on. He put me on two new different medications to treat seizures. Since first visiting Dr. Muniz, I haven’t had or wanted to see any other physician. I am happy to say I got my driver’s license after proving I have gone six months without a seizure. I am able to drive an hour each way to a state college to further my education. If I still had the seizures, I don’t know if I would be going to college. When I had the seizures, my family always had to drive me to school. I live in Okeechobee, Florida and drive all the way to West Palm Beach to see Dr. Muniz, but I only have to go for six-month checkups. I’m controlled now.

Another great thing to see is that my mom is extremely happy now. My mom met Dr. Muniz and she just loves him. He actually ended up saving her life too. During the series of initial visits, Dr. Muniz noticed my mom wasn’t herself and found out she had a history of mini-strokes that had not been followed-up with properly. He referred her to Dr. Paul Acevedo, a neurologist at PBNI. Dr. Acevedo noticed a blockage in the carotid artery and cleaned it out. Now, mother and daughter are both healthy!