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An HSU student’s seizure survival story

By Erin Chessin

Ryanne Bailey in the hospital with her father, Mark Rivero | Denise Bailey

Senior recreation major Ryanne Bailey was 17 years old when she woke up and could not recognize anyone, even her own parents.

“That’s when they told me I had a seizure,” Bailey said.

One minute Bailey was taking a shower, the next thing she knew she was riding in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

“I woke up and started pulling the IVs from my arms,” Bailey said. “I didn’t know what was happening.”

Earlier in the day before the incident, Bailey had a busy schedule. She skipped breakfast, went to class and made an effort to catch up on school work. She had an extensive amount of homework to catch up on after being gone for a week and a half on a school-related field trip to Washington D.C. She didn’t get back to her hometown in Las Vegas until late Sunday evening.

Without having much to eat that day, Bailey went to a two-hour long track practice, followed by another two-hour long Powder-Puff football practice. Strained and drained from the day’s activities, she took a nap at her grandma’s house while waiting for her parents to pick her up and take her home.

At home, the demand of school work and the physical exhaustion from sports was taking a toll on her. She decided she needed a hot shower after dinner. It was around 10 p.m.

That’s when things took a turn for the worst.

“We heard something loudly banging against the wall, so I ran to the bathroom to see if she was okay,”   Bailey’s mother, Denise Bailey, said.

The water was still running when she saw her daughter shaking uncontrollably in the bathtub. Her mother picked her up out of the shower and set her on the floor.

Mark Rivero, Bailey’s father, is a retired firefighter. He had seen numerous people have seizures before in the 20 years he worked at the City of Las Vegas Fire Department. Still, his heart could not handle it when he witnessed his own daughter have a seizure. “This was by far the hardest seizure to watch,”  Rivero said.

Bailey’s mother called 911. She waited outside for the ambulance to arrive, shaken by the culmination of events.

“When Mark said she had stopped breathing, I stepped outside. I couldn’t watch my daughter die,” Denise Bailey said.

Emergency personnel arrived to the family’s home in a matter of minutes. Firefighters were handling her when Bailey woke up and tried to reach to turn off the water in the shower.

There are three possible outcomes that can happen to a person after they have had a seizure.

Firefighters told Bailey’s parents she would either wake up and continue what she was doing, her brain would reset itself and she won’t remember anything that happened, or she will gain abnormal strength and act violently.

Everyone was shocked to witness the 17-year-old display all three behaviors.

Bailey tried to push the firefighters off of her. When she fell asleep again, they were successful in getting her into the ambulance.

Then she woke up again during the ride. She tried to pull the IVs out of her arms. Ambulance personnel quickly stopped her and informed her she had a seizure and needed to keep them in.

“I was so confused. I didn’t know what was happening,” said Bailey.

Bailey was rushed into emergency care. Doctors ran an entire panel of drug tests on her, and conducted various tests throughout the next couple of days to figure out the cause of the seizure. All results of the tests, the CAT scan, X-Ray, MRI, and blood sugar analysis, came back negative. Even the MRI showed her brain was in perfect condition.

A nurse relayed to Bailey’s parents that they were going to have to do a spinal tap on her in order to test for meningitis.

Meningitis can have fatal results if not treated promptly, however Bailey’s parents were skeptical of the spinal tap. If done incorrectly, a spinal tap can cause permanent paralysis of the spine.

Bailey’s parents allowed the doctors to administer the spinal tap. The procedure was the most painful experience Bailey has ever endured till this day.

“It’s excruciating pain, and a slow process too,” said Bailey.

The cerebrospinal fluid was tested for meningitis and came back negative. The family was relieved, but frustrated at the same time to still have no idea what caused the seizure.

For the next two weeks, Bailey suffered adverse side effects from the spinal tap. She could not bend her knees, which made walking an agonizing pain.

Bailey continued to go to school, her teachers showed understanding.

HSU recreation major, Ryanne Bailey | Samantha Kerby

Denise Bailey had not recovered from the emotional distress of her daughter’s seizure. For the next couple of weeks after the incident she slept in the same bed as her daughter every night. Whenever something drops on the floor, Denise is quick to rush into the room.

“I’m a very protective parent. But when you have seen your daughter nearly die, you tend to be overprotective,” Denise Bailey said.

Bailey has not had any more seizures since the one that occurred when she was 17 years old. Even at 22 years old, the possibilities of having another seizure in any moment at any time is daunting, but taking medication helps assure her that she is safe.

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