Persistence pays off for Louisville woman raising awareness - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Persistence pays off for Louisville woman raising awareness of epilepsy

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- (WDRB) Persistence has finally paid off for one Louisville woman. She has fought for awareness of a disease that has plagued her for years.

Thanks to the efforts of Deborah O'Gorman, November is now, officially, epilepsy awareness month in Kentucky. It's part of her plan to bring that disease out of the shadows.

"This world just knocked me down within 6 months. I lost every bit of income I thought I was ever going to have," said O'Gorman.

Eighteen years ago, Deborah O'Gorman's world turned upside down. That's when she had her first epileptic seizure.

"Sixteen neurologists. None of them knew what to do with me."

O'Gorman does not suffer classic, paralyzing epileptic seizures. Instead, she appears to be sleepwalking.

"They had never seen seizures like mine before. They call them psycho-motor. I do things during a seizure."

Things that were sometimes embarrassing. Sometimes dangerous. Things of which Deborah was totally unaware.

"I walk. I talk. I kiss people. I disrobe. I've given away two computers. "

The seizures cost her several jobs. Now they are controlled by a device implanted in her chest.

"The computer on the heart is fighting seizures. I could have had a seizure 5 minutes ago, but that computer has stopped it. I used to have 200 seizures a month."

Now, from her small apartment in downtown Louisville, O'Gorman runs an organization called SEIGE: Support Epilepsy in Guiding Epileptics. Her mission, to raise awareness and help epilepsy sufferers reach their full potential.

"Don't sit home and rot your life away. One day is one day. Come on. Get up a do something."

What O'Gorman has done is finally paying off. It came in the form of a letter from Frankfort. An official proclamation.

It reads, in Part, "Therefore I, Stephen Beshear, governor of the commonwealth, proclaim Nov. 12 as Epilepsy Awareness Month."

"That's what I want," said O'Gorman.  "You don't know how much that means to me and the people. It means epilepsy is finally on the map of Kentucky, and next year there will be more awareness."

Awareness of an illness that is slowly coming out of the shadows.

"One out of every ten people have epilepsy. And one out of every 100 are dying a day from it. We've got to stop this."

Next November, O'Gorman is planning events to highlight epilepsy awareness month.

Her ultimate goal, a museum that will spotlight those throughout history who have accomplished great things, despite having epilepsy.

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