James Manganiello Babylon, New York, USA
Chapter 2 - Desire. The first step towards riches
As I drove home from work, I did a lot of thinking about chapter 2 of Think and Grow Rich.
Barnes' desire to become business associates with Edison, what it took to get him there,
then seeing an opportunity and acting on it.
Thirty-four years ago, my desire to be seizure-free was a hope, and a thought planted in my
mind by my doctor. Unfortunately I did not understand what it meant to be seizure-free, so
my doctor explained It. My seizures were infrequent, yet I was on anti-seizure medication to
prevent them. When I was 13 years old, I came to terms with my epilepsy and accepted that
I would have it for the rest of my life. My acceptance of it at a young age helped me become
tolerant and accepting of it.
My seizures are described as "absenteeism". I can recall events before and after the seizure,
but not during them. The best way to describe it is by watching a movie with a 30second
climactic scene that sums up the movie - now remove the scene, and watch it again. It's
confusing, frustrating, and leaves one asking "what happened?"
That's my life.
I had a single seizure at age 11, 14, 19. They were infrequent because the medication kept
the seizures at bay. Which was good, so I could live a regular life.
Epileptics (a word I'm not comfortable with) experience an aura either before or after a seizure.
It can be a sound or a smell. My aura was a smell, and a familiar one. If you've ever walked
outside and smelled hamburgers cooking on a grill and enjoyed that smell, well that scent is
my aura. One can imagine why I'm protective upon entering a barbecue and smelling hamburgers.
At 26 years of age, my life changed. I had a seizure at home, which lasted 20 seconds. During
those 20 seconds, my brother had called 911. When I came out of the seizure, I smelled
hamburgers (which was odd because we were eating pasta) and my brother was on the phone
saying "he just came or of it". Because of the aura, I knew that I had a seizure. In the next few
minutes, an EMT team arrived. They checked my vitals, and drove me to the hospital.
My parents followed. The following day I visited my doctor with my family, and we discussed the
seizure. The doctor indicated there was a new version of the medicine I was on, which he
recommended. So with his help, I made the transition to the new medicine. I never forgot what
my doctor said, "If you take your medication daily and get blood levels regularly, I see no reason
why you shouldn't live a NORMAL life". Hearing the word "normal" was the gold at the end of
I said to myself, "I will do whatever it takes to be seizure-free". And I did. Despite the negativity
I had experienced in my life in the next year (DMV suspended my license, driver's insurance
dropped me, my parents or brother drove me to and from work) I knew I would be seizure free
and would get my license back. Twelve months later, I went to the DMV, and got a new license
with a new smiling photo. That day i went for a long drive by myself, thinking. One thought was,
"ok, that's one year completed. Good job! Go for two". I did, and it continued year after year.
I'm a member of an epilepsy group in New York City. Many people struggle controlling their
seizures or dealing with the side-effects of the medications. I attend the meetings. The organizer
asked me, "if you're not having seizures anymore, why did you choose to join us today?" I
responded, "because it's not about me anymore. It's about you."
What I didn't say was this:
"I believe that one person needs just a little bit of hope that its possible you can make a positive
difference in your own life. Whether it's going a day without a seizure, a year, or a lifetime."
I wanted my epilepsy controlled badly enough that I would do anything necessary for it to happen.
I had to wait. A day seizure-free turned into daily desire to stay seizure-free for twenty years. I am
grateful for the consistency and diligence all these years. It is my greatest accomplishment in life,
Since it's been so long that I've had a seizure, my neurologist wants to gradually wean me of the
medication... that story has yet to be written.
-James P. Manganiello