Thoughts About Being a Father and Having Epilepsy

Editor’s note: This month Mike shares his thoughts about raising two boys while managing epilepsy. We don’t often hear a father’s point of view, and thank Mike for sharing his thoughts and feelings. Dads you are welcome to join the conversation by posting your comments. From all of us at the Epilepsy Association, we wish Dads a Happy Father’s Day.

Mike Wesel
~Michael Wesel

If you read my first blog you would know that I have had epilepsy most of my adult life.   I was first diagnosed with Epilepsy in 1972, when I was eight years old. My seizures were controlled later that year and I was seizure free for thirteen years.  They returned in 1985 when I was twenty-one and they were controlled again later that year. My seizures returned again in 1992. I was twenty-eight and have had break through seizures, with varied frequency and intensity, ever since.

I have two sons, the oldest was born on December 18, 1994 and the youngest on January 2, 1997.  I have had uncontrolled seizures and have not driven during their entire lives. My ex-wife and I separated in 2001, when the boys were only seven and four and were divorced in the spring of 2004.  According to the shared parenting plan my time for visits was on Wednesday nights and every other weekend.  I was responsible for picking up the boys and taking them to my home and she was responsible for picking them after my visit with them was over.

When we were first divorced I lived approximately a mile and a half from my ex-wife’s house.  Due to the location of our homes the only way for me to pick them up for my visit was by a taxi.  As the price of gas increased it became virtually impossible for me to get a cab to pick me up to go such a short distance.  When I opened my law practice, I moved to Lakewood, Ohio which is a very short bus ride to my office in downtown Cleveland. I soon found out that I was going to have to reduce my visits to once a month because of the transportation cost.

This became a source of great frustration and stress for me. The greatest source of loneliness for me is the quiet in my apartment after my sons have left from a visit. I have found that although I may not see them as often as I would like, I can remain actively involved in their lives by calling them quite frequently. Also, I take advantage of every opportunity to see them that I can. I try to get to as many of their school activities or other activities as possible.  They both have worked in my office copying and filing documents for me.

With the advent of the cell phone, I even text them as a way of communication even though at forty-nine years old I am not fond of texting.  My younger son thinks I call too much, but that’s alright, when he is older he will understand.  My oldest son now drives when they come to visit. Finding a free weekend out of our busy schedules has become more of an obstacle for them to visit.  However, we remain in contact by phone, email or texting on a regular basis.  In a sense the issue has resolved itself.

My oldest son is now a senior in High School and will start college in the fall.  He hopes to become a chemical engineer.  My youngest is a sophomore in High School and is on the Cross Country and the track teams.  I call them almost every day whether they like it or not and they know that I love them and vice versa. Remember anything is possible if you put your mind to it, use common sense, keep a positive attitude and maintain a good sense of humor.

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