Tillman Family—Kaycee Tillman
Nominated by: Allison Hamilton, Kaycee’s Aunt
Our story began after Thanksgiving 2014 when we noticed Kaycee did not know the answer to simple questions and just seemed “out of it”. My husband called and said something is wrong with Kaycee, she didn’t know what a brush was when I asked her to bring it to me. This was the second episode in less than a week, and our pediatrician’s office instructed us to take Kaycee to the ER immediately! They ran tests, but everything came back normal. They told us it was probably a virus and to wait it out. It took time and persistence to figure out she was having absence seizures. After a month filled with hospital visits, doctor appointments and, seizure after seizure, were finally were able to start her on medication. From there, we began adding new medication after medication to the mix hoping one would work!
In March 2015 things took a turn in the wrong direction. Kaycee had a convulsive seizure called tonic clonic seizure. Close to an hour after the seizures started, it finally began to subside and we were in a helicopter on our way to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. This was my worst nightmare and the most helpless I’ve ever felt.
Kaycee came through that night and the seizure didn’t dull her shine. Following this change in seizures, she began having different types of seizures several times per day. The atonic seizures would make her fall with no warning at all including down the flight of stairs in our house several different times. Her little body was covered in bruises from head to toe.
I admitted to myself these were not going away, so I began researching seizures. I discovered a term I had never heard before “SUDEP” or sudden unexplained death of an epileptic person. That’s where that pit in my stomach comes from – the fear of her slipping away from me while she’s sleeping. My research put me in contact with a wonderful network of individuals who are supportive and full of information when needed.
Currently, we still have no answers. While the seizures are not as severe, we can count on them showing up most days. We take it all in stride and try to let Kaycee be as independent.
The fact that my baby has to deal with these health issues is horrible, however, this path has put us in contact with wonderful individuals and organizations. Kaycee was granted a trip for our family to attend Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland. It also allowed us to meet wonderful families with common concerns and gain valuable knowledge at the Epilepsy Expo. We met families with children from all over the epilepsy spectrum.
Since the beginning of our story, Kaycee has started kindergarten and is doing well at her school. They care for her and make sure even if she has a seizure she is able to stay at school for the day if possible. They have thought through all aspects of having her at school and continue to adjust and make necessary arrangements. I am so grateful we were lucky enough to start with such a wonderful and caring team.
In August, we began working to get Kaycee a trained seizure dog and through the generosity of so many of our family, friends and strangers we raised enough money. The outpouring of support was wonderful and more than I could have ever anticipated.
I choose to look at the positives and all the good that has come out of this experience. I will continue to be Kaycee’s biggest fan and fight for whatever she needs while continuing to follow Kaycee’s lead of positivity for her future.
We are proud to be one of this years Featured Families and we hope you’ll support, Kaycee, our family and the Epilepsy Association at the 11th Annual Winter Walk for Epilepsy on January 30!