Coping with epilepsy through pregnancy

March 07, 2018 | UC Irvine Health
megan davis on the beach with her son, Nolan

On April 7, 2013, Megan Davis gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and named him Nolan. The Orange County woman, now 37, was diagnosed with epilepsy during college. Her seizures were controlled with medication. But during pregnancy her condition worsened and became even more perilous after childbirth.

Davis consulted with Dr. Jack J. Lin, director of the UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, who provided testing and treatment to help bring the seizures under control.

Davis, who writes a blog about her experience — — is now an avid epilepsy awareness advocate. She recently helped expand the Epilepsy Foundation’s Care+Cure fellowship program to UC Irvine Health and CHOC Children’s. She is also working on bringing epilepsy awareness, research and care opportunities to Orange County.

‘You can live on hope’

Pregnancy was one of the most incredible times of my life. Yet it was also the scariest. After not having a seizure in several years, I began having a type of seizure called tonic-clonic, due to the hormone fluctuations in my body. Then post-pregnancy, clusters of five to 45 partial seizures a night set in.

Dr. Lin told me: ‘You cannot live on an anecdote, but you can live on hope. We can always have hope. We must always have hope.’ He told me that after I had spent six days in the UC Irvine Health epilepsy-monitoring unit.

I was feeling dispirited. My head throbbed, and my heart hurt. I cried — wondering where my journey might lead me. I was full of fear and empty of hope.

New drug shows promise

But Dr. Lin explained the success he’s found with other patients using a new drug. I think he recognized my pessimism and the familiar feeling of disappointment he must so often see in patients when the answers are not clearly present after a long, emotionally and physically draining week of epilepsy testing.

But when he said those words, I found myself thinking, ‘Wow, how lucky am I to be treated by someone who — after years of research and seeing patients — still believes in the possibility of controlling and eventually curing this disease?’

After he left my room, I lay in bed thoroughly inspired and rejuvenated. ‘We must always have hope,’ I repeated to myself. He’s right. I’d laughed when he said it and teased him about this poetic and philosophical side to my doctor that I hadn’t seen before. He chuckled and reiterated his belief.

New sustenance for battle

It may seem like an insignificant exchange, but when you battle the invisible without reprieve, the hope one tries so hard to maintain slowly cracks and begins to crumble … piece by piece. Yet I knew Dr. Lin’s words weren’t empty and intended to placate. He believed. I found new sustenance for my battle.

Since then we’ve managed to lessen my seizures dramatically and improve my quality of life tremendously. And during rough patches, I think about the sustenance of hope and my conversation with Dr. Lin that day. We must always hope.

I’m so grateful for the impact he’s had on my life and health. If he believes, so can I.

Watch Megan’s story

Related Stories

Want monthly health tips emailed to you? Sign up here!

* indicates required