Before he entered double digits, Parker Page of Hillsboro was diagnosed with Epilepsy, which affects 470,000 children, and each year in November, he and his family share their knowledge of the disorder in honor of National Epilepsy Awareness Month.
Parker was diagnosed with Focal/Partial Symptomatic Epilepsy and epileptic syndromes with complex partial seizures in June 2019, after his older brother Easton witnessed him having a seizure one morning.
“It was scary as a mom,” said Parker’s mom, Shawne, whose mission now is to educate those around her, as well as provide the best possible care to her growing son.
Following his first initial seizure, the Page family spent the next two months going to specialist appointments, and Parker courageously underwent numerous blood draws and tests including MRIs and EEGs, which detected “angry brain waves,” as his pediatric neurologist describes them.
“It didn’t take that long, but it seemed like an eternity,” said Shawne. “Sometimes they just have them for a few years because they can’t find a specific reason why he has them. There are no abnormalities in his brain or anything.”
For some living with epilepsy, the effects are profound, while for others, it is more mild. As part of his diagnosis, the ten-year-old’s seizures occur in his sleep. To date, he has experienced at least two to three seizures; however, thanks to the anti-seizure medication he takes twice daily, he has not had another one.
“We got lucky and medicine has controlled it,” said Shawne.
And while the medication has kept his episodes at bay, a monitor is near him throughout the night to give his parents a little more peace of mind. Shawne said she felt like an overbearing mother before, but especially now as she encourages her young son not to wrestle or participate in any similar activity that could trigger a seizure.
“Our goal is if we get to June of next year without having one, he will be weaned off his medication,” said Shawne. “He should have a full recovery. It’ll be a slow process and hopefully it will all be good from there.”
In their efforts to raise awareness, the Page family has participated in several events and activities to help shed light on the disease. Even at a young age, Parker has spearheaded classroom activities to help educate his classmates, including a presentation on the diagnosis.
“I think it is very important to learn about epilepsy because some of the things people think they are supposed to do for someone having a seizure is not at all what is to be done and can be dangerous for the patient and the person caring for them if things are not done correctly,” said Parker.
Additionally, he has hosted an Epilepsy Walk for his entire class, and for the past two years, he and his classmates have painted pumpkins purple as part of the Purple Pumpkin Project. Outside of the classroom, he hosted a virtual lemonade stand, which raised $100 for the cause.
“It is very important to advocate,” said Parker. “My family nor myself did not know much about epilepsy when it first happened to me, and that made my family frightened because of the unknown. My mom and I soon found out that many people, including teachers in my school, had no idea about the different types of seizures that there are.”
While the young boy is active in his class, he also enjoys interacting with other children who face similar challenges, which isn’t always easy in rural America. But thanks to the Epilepy Foundation’s Kids Crew, which was created to provide a welcoming outlet for children with epilepsy, Parker knows he isn’t alone.
“I love Kids Crew because I know everyone there knows what it’s like to have a seizure or what it’s like to assist someone having one,” said Parker.
Kids Crew offers various events once a month, such as virtual meetings, Bingo, talent shows, luaus and more, and the children are encouraged to earn themed pins upon completion of activities.
Parker’s goal this year was to earn his final pin, the World Changer pin, which he will receive at the end of the year for hosting the lemonade stand.
“I want people to know about epilepsy, not just hear about it,” said Parker. “My advice is to do your best not to be scared.”
In the event of a seizure, the Page family reminds the local community to create a safe space, place the individual on their side and help keep their airway clear. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes, call 911.
The son of Tim and Shawne Page of Hillsboro, Parker has three older siblings, Eric, Harley and Easton. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball and soccer, building LEGO guns, reading about wars, and of course, firefighting like his dad.
For more information about epilepsy, visit www.epilepsy.com.