By Lowell G. Evans
I was born on November 7, 1960, the youngest of nine (9) children. My hometown where I was raised is Gloucester, VA. My parents were the best anyone could ask for as everyone who knew them looked up to them for the way they treated others. This truly made our family “close.”
In 1980 while playing basketball in college in Norfolk, Va. I had a fall that later caused me to develop epilepsy. This was something that was totally new to me and also something I could not believe or accept. This was diagnosed when I had a seizure in the early morning in my dorm room. With the seizure, I was totally unconscious so when I came to and saw the paramedics standing beside my bed, I quickly asked my roommate, “Are you o.k.?’ He looked at me like I was crazy and I guess the reason why was because the paramedics were standing beside “my bed” not his. I just could not understand why they were there. It could not have been for me! This is what I thought anyway.
One of the paramedics then said to me, “Sir we believe we detected epilepsy.” With me being awoken at 3:00 am in the morning, with paramedics standing by my beside, and them stating that they detected “epilepsy” my response to them was “Sir, I don’t smoke that stuff! You can check my drawers!” I had never heard of the term epilepsy so I thought they were saying I was doing something “illegal.” There was no way I was going to get in trouble for something that I did not do. The paramedics calmed me down and then informed me that the “epilepsy could have come from my genes.” I understood them then, at least I thought. This is when I went to my closet and start pulling through my clothes. The paramedic asked me what I was doing. I told them, “These are the jeans my brother gave me when I came to college and he did not say anything was wrong with them!” The paramedic, who was then frustrated, then asked me to have a seat
After a number of questions about my past few months, recent past, I informed them of a fall I had and this made the paramedics take me to the hospital where I was diagnosed as I was diagnosed to having epilepsy.
This was not a problem for me in the beginning because I was feeling fine after I got back to the college campus. Although I was not allowed to drive, everything I needed was right there on campus. This is including the things I did not need such as “discrimination.” All because of “one seizure” I was questioned about my ability to complete college, obtain a job, continue to play sports, and even find a mate to date! I could not believe this. It was then that I realized there was a “lack of knowledge” of epilepsy in society. People with the condition were suffering from the reactions from the people in society.
I decided to prove everyone wrong about their “new observation” about me. I continued to go to college and increase my credit hours from 12-18 a semester. I continued to play basketball for the college team. With me wanting to show people I was “normal” I also worked a 2nd part-time job and started to party harder than almost anyone on campus. In doing all of this I was trying to show everyone that “epilepsy” did not change me. This was what I was allowing society to do to me. They made me feel different when actually, I was doing the same as them. I was able to graduate from college on time and achieve my goals.
Years later after seeing no real change in epilepsy education, I realized that the true problem was not always the “Epilepsy” itself. The real problems came from the way people with the condition were being accepted in society. People could not say the word “epilepsy” in fear that they would be ostracized. The thoughts of not being hired, losing relationships, and embarrassment also accompanied this medical condition. It was just not fair. The reason being is that after my research I found many successful people in society that had epilepsy. People were just not aware of this. These individuals included a US President, actors Danny Glover and Richard Burton, and pro athletes such as Bobby Jones of the NBA, and Jason Smelling of the Atlanta Falcons. Some of the most intelligent men and woman in history were said to have epilepsy. This information was never shared with me until years later.
With me now being informed about these individuals, I wanted to help educate people about epilepsy. This is when I decided to write my novel, “The Village.” I had to create a character to represent epilepsy because there was no one willing to talk about it. That is including me. This is when I created, “Mr. Kevin Bolden.” This is a very successful, corporate family man who moves into a neighborhood called “The Village.” This neighborhood basically represents society. It has people from all walks of life and mainly, just like society, they were not educated about epilepsy. It was actually the “youth” of The Village that educated the adults on how to “treat others” regardless of their condition that has made the story a success.
The best part about the book is that everyone who reads it can “find themselves” within the story. Either they knew a Mr. Kevin Bolden who had epilepsy, found themselves guilty of discriminating a person with a condition, not being knowledgeable about epilepsy, or one of the “Heroes” that came to the aid of their neighbor. The story truly seems like it is real to life. Basically The Village is inspired by true stories of people from all around the country that I have me in person or on the Internet.
I had to write this book to open the hearts and minds of people about epilepsy because it is known at the “Neglected Stepchild of Neurology.” Many times I found myself and others who had epilepsy experiencing the same discrimination for no reason at all. The many myths and stigmas about epilepsy are still in place and that is just one of the many things that can makes life difficult for individuals who have epilepsy. Truly there needs to be an increase in epilepsy education and I am one that will give my all to see that happen. My goal is to have a movie made to be used as an “educational tool” to help eliminate epilepsy discrimination and bullying.
© Lowell G.Evans
Author of: “The Village”, 5004 Glen Canyon Drive, Virginia Beach, VA. 23462