Former patient says ‘thank you’ to LHSC on Purple Day for Epilepsy

Exceptional Experiences

March 26 , 2012

As I sit all alone in a hospital room, wondering if my life has been doomed…robbed by this illness that has shattered my head, saying to myself ‘I’d be better off dead’.

When Lazzelle Gelias was admitted to the Epilepsy Program at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), she could have been excused for feeling like life as she knew it was over. For years she had been suffering from debilitating headaches, falls, black outs and seizures so severe that she once awoke from one to find her head had gone right through her bathroom door. A resident of North York, she had visited specialists time and again, seeking answers, hoping to once again find some semblance of a ‘normal’ life, only to be told the cause of her partial complex seizures could not be determined, and that medication adjustments would frequently be required. With a husband and two small children at home, that was not an answer she was willing to accept.

Through personal research, Gelias came across an article profiling the world-class treatment options available at LHSC, and asked her neurologist for a referral to the Epilepsy Program. After three intensive days of testing – more tests than she had gone through in all her years of doctor’s visits – Gelias was given a definitive diagnosis and an option for surgery that would help, but possibly not cure, her seizures. After spending one night thinking about the benefits and risks outlined to her, Gelias decided to proceed with the surgery, a decision she now credits with being one of the best decisions of her life.

“They gave me my life back. I came out of surgery with no pain, much to the doctor’s surprise, but with a newfound sense of who I was, and what I was meant to do. The surgery awakened my creativity, and words started flowing in the form of poetry almost immediately”, Gelias remarked. She hasn’t stopped writing since she was released from hospital, and has just chosen a publisher to turn her words into her very first collection of poetry sometime this year.

To thank the staff of LHSC’s Epilepsy Program on this, Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness, Gelias passed along a poem written after her surgery that chronicles her journey from patient to survivor. As an active member of her local epilepsy support programs, she has shared her story countless times in supporting others, and doesn’t hesitate to recommend London Health Sciences Centre to individuals who are travelling a similar path to hers, unable to find successful treatment closer to home.

For Bonnie Adamson, President and CEO of LHSC, Gelias’ experience was precisely what the organization strives for daily. “At London Health Sciences Centre, we are committed to the vision of providing exceptional experiences to our patients, and the Epilepsy Program team has clearly demonstrated that commitment in their care of Mrs. Gelias. We are proud to have an extraordinary team of professionals working together to ensure patients receive world-class treatment and on this day dedicated to epilepsy awareness, I join Mrs. Gelias in recognizing the cutting-edge work that continues to be done at LHSC in the area of epilepsy treatment and management.”

Says Gelias, “Before my surgery, I asked the operating room doctors and nurses to pray with me that the surgery would work, and that I would live to see my family again. They didn’t hesitate to agree to it, and in that moment I knew that this team was dedicated to helping me as a patient, and not just my symptoms. I know that what they’ve done for me they continue to do for others, and for that I offer this poem and my heartfelt thanks.”

So I’ve learned never to give up on this fight, by this illness I’ve claimed to have shattered my life. Instead, it has opened my eyes wider to see, the true beauty I still have deep down inside of me.

Epilepsy (The Fight)

By: Lazzelle Gelias

As I sit all alone in a hospital room,
Wondering if my life has been doomed ...
Robbed by this illness, that has shattered my head,
Saying to myself "I'd be better off dead".
Asking, "Why has this happened to me?
Still growing in life, now cut down like a tree."
Looking to my father in heaven above,
Praying for help, guidance and love.
Then ... what do my eyes suddenly see,
A vision of others, much worse off than me.
Suffering in pain, sorrow and grief,
Fighting to survive everyday of the week.
"How can they do that," I say to myself
As I watched them return back to life itself.
Still sitting alone in a hospital room,
Still praying for God to answer me soon.
Then realized that he just did,
He sent me a message of how not to give in.
He showed me to be grateful indeed,
Because life is too short to complain of ones needs.
To enjoy what he gave me and be thankful instead,
There are others worse off and are reaching their end.
So, I've learned never to give up on this fight,
By this illness I've claimed to have shattered my life.
Instead, it has opened my eyes wider to see,
The true beauty I still have deep down inside me.