Updated: February 20, 2020 10:37 PM
Epilepsy affects three million people in the United States. Those who have the neurological disorder know the daily challenges this brings, but learn to overcome it.
18-year-old Jade Miller from Solon Springs is a shining example of that. Her journey with epilepsy started when she was only 13. While many may see the condition as a setback, that’s not the case for Jade, who hasn't let it stop her from living her best life.
“No matter what, I just kept going,” said Miller.
Jade loves to run. She's been involved with cross county since she was in fifth grade.
“I just told myself keep going no matter what,” said Miller.
Her love for running was put on hold when she had her first seizure on a school bus five years ago. It took her and her family by surprise.
“We have learned as we have gone. This is completely new, uncharted ground for our whole family,” said Danielle Miller, Jade’s mom.
Jade went to the emergency room and was put into an induced coma for five days. She had to relearn how to do simple things that were no longer simple, like walking and writing. It was during her hospitalization that she was diagnosed with epilepsy.
“It was like I was a little kid again. Growing up, my seizures used to be way worse than what they are now,” said Miller.
Jade said she would have seizures every day. Brain surgery has helped bring her seizures down significantly. After recovering from surgery, she started training and was determined to get back out on the field. She made a big comeback her senior year.
“It’s amazing, it makes me not worry and makes me feel good about myself and not think about the negative,” said Miller.
“I would expect nothing less out of her, she's a go-getter,” said Jade’s mom.
Throughout her recovery Jade has had the support of her family and her therapy dog named Doc to get her through all of this. They remind her that her condition does not define who she is.
“She has her whole life ahead of her and this(epilepsy) is the smallest little portion of it,” said Jade’s mom.
Jade helped her team win their first ever conference title. They were happy to finally have her back on the team again.
"I love cross country. I was so scared to do it until I found out I had a runner with me, Luke Dahlberg. He was always behind me with my medicine just in case I had a seizure," said Jade.
Jade has had a great support system in her school. The Solon Springs School district recently went through a Seizure Smart training that the Epilepsy Foundation offers.
“Students will learn about what epilepsy is, what it's not, and how to recognize and respond to the most common types of seizures,” said Lisa Peterson, the regional coordinator for the Epilepsy Foundation.
Peterson does the training for northeast Minnesota and Douglas County.
“Often times people will find themselves responding to a seizure and they don't have prior history of working with people with epilepsy and it can catch them off guard,” said Peterson.
Peterson knows exactly what it means to live life with epilepsy. She had the neurological disorder for 21 years. She's able to use her experience into the training she does for area students.
Back in December she did a training for UMD pharmacy students and students from Bryant Elementary.
“It was nice to get the personal aspect,” said Jake Bush, a UMD pharmacy student.
“She knows a lot about seizures because she's had seizures before,” said Kyler Berquist, a Bryant Elementary student.
“In case you see anybody that's having a seizure, you know what to do so you can help them,” said Starr Young, a Bryant Elementary student.
Peterson said she has seen the difference the training has made.
"I did a seizure training up north of Bemidji and the following day, a student had a seizure on the bus and the nurse emailed me and said that every kid on the bus knew what to do," said Peterson.
Peterson said the training has helped in making others aware of the warning signs and helping teach safe ways to respond to different epileptic seizures.
Jade was glad that her classmates and teachers were able to learn from the training and get a sense of what she goes through.
“It was nice to let people know what to do when I had them and how people finally understood what it's like when people have them,” said Jade.
Jade has taken the steps needed to get back up on her feet.
“There's so many people even in our school that whine about the littlest things. I really a lot of times want to bring this up and be like, if I can fight through this, you can fight through that,” said Jade.
Instead of slowing her down, it has sparked motivation, bravery, and passion in her.
“As a mom you always want your kids to succeed and I’ve always told her this does not define you,” said Jade’s mom.
At her young age, Jade is already setting an example not only to those who struggle with epilepsy but to those around her. She wants to give back to those who have helped her with epilepsy.
"I want to be a nurse because the doctors have helped me and now it’s my turn to help others," said Jade.
Epilepsy hasn’t stopped her from living her life the way she wants, sending a positive and powerful message for the world to see.
"No matter what, keep going, fight through it,” said Jade.
To learn more about the Epilepsy Foundation and the Seizure Smart training, click here.
Updated: February 20, 2020 10:37 PM
Created: February 20, 2020 10:30 AM
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