Hopey Dopey and Me

Meet Maria

Maria really lights up when she talks about Hope (aka Hopey Dopey). She’s her brand-new service dog and a new friend. “She was given the name Hope by her first home at a Kentucky rescue shelter. We kept the name but added the nickname because when she looks at you in a certain way she looks just like Dopey from Snow White, “Maria tells us.

Maria is now 13 and had her first seizure just a few months ago when she was 12. Some of her first seizures were at school. “I didn’t understand what was happening to me or what it was,” shares Maria. “It was scary.” Epilepsy was new to her. She had wonderful support from her parents and from her doctor who, little by little, told her about epilepsy and about her seizures. With the diagnosis of epilepsy came lots of changes. Maria now recognizes her seizure triggers and stays away from getting overheated, getting a hard hit to the head, or even being startled. Her therapist is helping her with the new feelings of anxiety she experiences as well as explaining more about how to live her best life with epilepsy and seizures. “I’m learning about my tonic-clonic seizures as I go along.” Maria feels that Hope really helps to calm her. She is so playful, loves her treats and loves to cuddle. The whole family can tell that she misses them when she’s alone. “She does not like that!” The kids at school have been cool about her seizures and don’t ask any questions because they don’t want her to be uncomfortable.

Maria tells me, “I am happy to talk about my seizures with my friends. I want them to know that it doesn’t make me who I am…define me. And, I want them to know how to help me if I have a seizure when they’re with me.” The first few months after her diagnosis of epilepsy was a struggle. But, with the help of her entire support system – family, friends, doctors and, of course, Hope, she has turned a corner and wants to start the important work of epilepsy awareness.

The Anita Kaufmann Foundation has helped where we could and now she can take her very own seizure first aid bookmarks and flyers to school and share them with everyone. “I have one friend that has epilepsy and I want everyone in the school to be aware and know seizure first aid. I want to make sure the kids with epilepsy know they are not alone, and we are all here to help each other cope.” Mom has her own special message, too. “Maria’s spirit and outlook after she coped and embraced her diagnosis are inspiring and as a family, we are in this together. Maria also wants to make everyone aware of Epilepsy and its signs, but most importantly wants her fellow Purple Warriors to know they are not alone.” Download Maria’s Bookmark

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