My name is Crystal and I was diagnosed with Epilepsy when I was roughly 2 years old. Seizures were a daily part of my everyday life. I lived with Epilepsy for almost 20 years with consistent seizures.
I was an army cadet throughout my adolescent years and cadets was my life. I was involved in everything (band, drill, biathlon, rifle teams etc.). I could probably say that in many ways, army cadets helped me through those years. As a result, my dream was to join the Canadian Forces in some capacity when I was an adult. Either full-time, as a part-time reservist or as a CIC officer (Cadet Instructor Cadre). As time went on, my desire to join the Canadian Forces only became stronger. Until one day, when my Mom and guidance counsellor had to sit down with me to inform me that the possibility of joining the Canadian Forces was not an option for me because of my Epilepsy.
In my last year of high school, once again my medication had starting failing. By this time, I had been on many different Epilepsy medications for the years as I had lived with Epilepsy for almost 20 years. My seizures were becoming more frequent and my neurologist starting looking at other options as medications were not working. One year later, after my first year of university, I was sent to an Epilepsy Unit in London Ontario for an observation to see if I would be a possible candidate for Epilepsy Surgery. After several observations and tests, I was able to have the surgery and on July 25, 2001, MY LIFE CHANGED. My trials were not over and I had to overcome other trials such as the medication withdrawal and minor loss of certain functions.
When I came home, I had applied to the Canadian Forces right away after my operation, but I was still rejected because you have to go so many years without a seizure and without seizure medication. As a result, I continued to work with different cadet units as a Civilian Instructor. To this day, I have been almost 16 years seizure free and roughly 5 years ago, I re-applied to the Canadian Forces as a CIC officer. It was a slow process and took a few years because of my medical history and I had to go through a rigorous medical review. I remember calling every few months and checking in and the response was often, “we haven’t heard anything” or “we are still waiting”. However, it was worth the wait because I will never forget the day I received the call from the Canadian Forces recruitment center wanting to make an appointment for my interview, which was the next step in the process because I had finally been medically approved. I can’t verbally describe what I felt that day and I knew I was about to start a new chapter in my life. Prestigious
I feel like I have been given a second chance at life and since my operation. I have been able to accomplish things I would have never thought possible. I completed university with three degrees (B.A, B.ED and my M.A). Besides being a part-time Canadian Forces Officer, I am a full time teacher. I know for many, everyday things like driving a car doesn’t seem like a big deal, but there are many times I get into my car and remember the conversation my Mom had with me when I was a young teenager and she told me that I will not be able to get my license as a result of my seizures.
Today, I live a new life and even though I am very proud of the things I have been able to accomplish, my biggest accomplishment would be my acceptance into the Canadian Forces and I am very proud and honoured to wear a Canadian Forces uniform. A dream that was once impossible has now become possible.
Liked by Colleen Young, Connect Director