Teen overcomes epilepsy, begins new chapter at Baylor
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Since her diagnosis with epilepsy, going back to school has always looked a little different for Isla Ritchie.
Now as a college freshman, she’s having to perform all her back to school responsibilities all by herself.
“People would say, ‘I know how you feel,’ but they really wouldn’t understand how difficult it was to have a seizure a day,” she said.
At the age of eleven, Isla was diagnosed with epilepsy. A year later, after trying out multiple treatment options, she found a solution that worked for her.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy helps calm down her brain activity every 30 seconds to prevent seizures.
After she got the VNS device, it became her mission to help her classmates better understand what to do during a seizure.
“(In middle school) I dropped to the ground and almost hit my head on a cabinet or chair,” Isla said. “One of the guys moved all the chairs and called the nurse. They did all the correct things they were supposed to do.”
Flash forward to 2022, she’s now starting her freshman year at Baylor and teaching others like her roommates about her condition.
“When I told them they were like ‘I’m sorry about this,’ like, don’t be sorry,” Isla said. “They fully supported me and wanted to know what to do if I had a seizure.”
Isla is now on her own, filling her own prescriptions and attending doctor appointments. Her mom Lisa Ritchie couldn’t be prouder.
“A few years ago I never would’ve thought this was going to be an option for her,” Lisa said.
At her dream school Isla is fulfilling a dream she never thought possible.
“It’s been amazing,” Isla said. “I’ve met so many people – people in my class, people in clubs I’ve joined. And they’re all here to support me through what I’ve been through and what I have.”
This Saturday marks three years since a teen with epilepsy had her last seizure.
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