Tynan Davidson, 14-year-old eighth grade student and California native, experienced his first epileptic seizure at age 8. Since then, he’s had hundreds. Like thirty percent of epilepsy patients, his is drug resistant which leaves him vulnerable to seizures at any moment. In August 2018, he had three brain surgeries at UCLA hospital and hasn’t had even one seizure since. In this story, Tynan tells J-14 all about his journey with epilepsy and how it has made him who he is today.

Imagine walking around with a firecracker in your front pocket knowing that at any moment it could explode.

Imagine that no matter what clothes you had on, the firecracker was always right there in your pocket, and you couldn’t get rid of it no matter what.

The firecracker wouldn’t kill you if it exploded, but it would hurt. A lot. Imagine if you were doing something dangerous when it exploded like swimming or riding a bike, then, you could be killed because the explosion would be so distracting that you couldn’t focus on anything else except that firecracker.

Even if you weren’t doing something dangerous when it exploded you would have to immediately stop whatever you were doing because dealing with the firecracker required ALL of your focus. Imagine that no matter how important the task was that you were working on, the firecracker could explode at the WORST possible time. In front of your whole class. On stage. While trying to make a putt to win a golf tournament. Or even in front of that one girl.

Imagine being 14 and listening to your friends talk about what they’ll do when they get their driver’s license. Listening to them talk about what kind of car they’ll drive or how much freedom they’ll have. Now imagine hearing this knowing that you can’t drive, maybe ever, all because of that firecracker.

Imagine that when the firecracker exploded – everyone would notice. It would attract A LOT of attention. Everyone would look. Stare. Point. Laugh. At you.

Since I was eight, I’ve had a firecracker in my front pocket. Except it isn’t in my front pocket, and it isn’t a firecracker. My firecracker is epilepsy.

My experience of carrying this firecracker around deep in my brain has shaped me. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the firecracker.

My friends and teachers think I am a leader. They think I am brave. What they don’t know is that I have been extremely scared. I hate seizures more than anything. I have always hated blood, needles, and hospitals. Epilepsy makes me confront these things I hate all the time. Epilepsy has made me more mature than any of my friends. It has made me have serious adult conversations with doctors that no kid should ever have.

I spent the entire month of August at UCLA’s Mattel’s Children’s Hospital. I had three brain surgeries. Doctors wouldn’t let me out of bed for 19 days because part of my skull had been removed…

My surgeries and epilepsy hasn’t all been bad though. I actually feel lucky. I feel confident because I’ve already had to deal with so much. I’ve seen kindness and love. Not just from my family but from doctors, nurses and people I didn’t even know! I had visits from collegiate golfers and volunteers who brought therapy dogs in to cheer me up. I had phone calls from friends, relatives and amazing people who just wanted to lend me support.

I am so lucky to be one of only six kids in the USA that has a brain implant which will hopefully stop my seizures.

Imagine now, that in one pocket you have that dreaded firecracker, but in the other pocket, you have an amazing little computer no bigger than a Tic-Tac box which senses when a seizure is about to begin and shoots it down with an electric current before the seizure ever starts!

My mother and father used to tell me that I should be a doctor because I am kind and caring. I never, ever wanted to be a doctor. Not even for a second. Now however, one of my goals is to become a neurosurgeon. Can you imagine how incredible it would be to save someone from seizures? Or to invent a device or treat a condition that would make someone’s life 100 times better? Amazing!

I love that firecracker. Every minute of every day.

Tynan Davidson

This story was written by Tynan Davidson.

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