​Graduation picture for Bachelor's Degree

Ashtin Kullnat

Charleston, SC

Competed in the Run Wild zoo run

in Asheboro, NC.

Place 81st out of 600 and placed 5th out of the women in my age group.

An ID tag from MUSC from the test on my grand mal seizures to see what caused them.

​As a child I was very healthy and active. I could spend all day everyday finding new games to play and practicing the sports I was involved in. In the Spring of 2005, I was playing softball for our local recreation department and I would space out in the middle of playing. I had no clue what was doing on; all I knew was I could not control it. My mother talked to my adopted grandmother, who is a RN, because she was starting to get concerned. My grandmother said I was having seizures but my mother was in disbelief. The staring spells did not stop so my mother finally made an appointment with MUSC. After an EEG, they confirmed that I have been having Petit mal seizures and I would start medication immediately. Today I remember going home that night, collapsing on my bed room floor in an endless stream of tears, hating myself and telling myself terrible things for not being “normal”. As my eyes wept and my mind thinking negatively, my heart never hurt like this before (especially only being nine years old).

                  In March of 2006, I started having grand mal seizures for the first time. Unfortunately, the medication they prescribed was not keeping up with the development of my seizures. My first grand mal seizure occurred at softball practice; I just hit a triple and was standing on third base. For a glimpse of a moment I became conscious to realize they were putting my in an ambulance then fell back out of consciousness. When I woke up, I was in the ER and practice had ended 3 hours ago. I was so embarrassed of what happened; what would my friends think of me? Will they unfriend me because I’m weird? They will certainly never look at me the same. I was forever scarred and did not want friends at that point because I did not want anyone to judge me. I was terrified that at any moment I was going to have a seizure and draw eyes to this embarrassing chronic illness I had. Despite how embarrassed I was of my epilepsy Fast-pitch Softball was the only thing I had that made me feel like I belonged with the “normal” kids so I kept playing.

                  As time went on my neurologist finally obtained the right dosage of my prescription. This was great in my mind because I was able to hide this embarrassing secret that I did not want any one to know. After a few months of taking the medication, I noticed some changes in my health. I became tired all the time, I had no energy, I had headaches almost constantly, I could never eat enough and some days I would be in a fog. The medication they prescribed to me had these side effects: nausea, vomiting, dizziness, double vision, weight gain, problems with walking or coordination, headache, weakness, stomach pain, diarrhea, hair loss, sleepiness, tremor, blurry vision, increased appetite and loss of appetite. So even though I stopped having seizures, I traded it for never feeling good. In June of 2008, I was 2 years of being seizure free and the neurologist wanted try to see if I was growing out of them. Finally, it was time to get weaned of this horrid medication. Within two weeks of weaning off my medication, I had my energy back, I was able to complete a day without multiple naps and lost twenty pounds because I was back to eating normal. At last I was free...or so I thought.

                  May of 2009, I had my first seizure after being off the medication for eleven months. The neurologist broke the hardest news I have heard in my entire life; I was going to have epilepsy and be on medication the rest of my life. This news had me devastated. Was I going to feel awful for the rest of my life? Would the rest of my life be terrible because of this? No one would ever love me for this blemish and the baggage it carries. My thoughts just kept spiraling out of control. I had to change neurologists because I was at the stage in my life where I was becoming a woman. At this time, she prescribed me what she called “a female friendly” anti-seizure medication so down the road I would have the possibility of having kids. I was blessed to finally have a medication that did not cause me to feel like crap all the time. One day I read an article that really opened my eyes. The article informed me that there are many people of all ages having ten plus seizures a day. And to think I was upset with having epilepsy that was managed by medication so that I could still play the sport I loved and achieve just about anything. From that point I made my purpose in life to not let epilepsy limit or define me.

                  Through this rollercoaster journey that epilepsy took me on, I have ultimately learned to be grateful. While others with epilepsy could not have an average joe life, I COULD! But I never was the type that average life would be acceptable, I was going to achieve things I never thoughts possible. With this mind set, I finished high school with a high GPA and was offered a softball scholarship to play in college. That’s right, I never gave up softball despite my epilepsy trying to slow me down. You better believe I took that offer, too.  As I played in college, I still excelled with my grades. I graduated college in December of 2017 with cum laude. Today I work a job that I love while trying to apply to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. Unfortunately, where I live there is no fast-pitch softball for adults so today my hobbies are competing in 5k runs, playing slow-pitch softball, teaching gymnastics and performing yoga. While I still experience symptoms of my epilepsy being present (aura migraines, depression, and not being able to mentally function without 8 hours of sleep a night), I don’t let it stop me. This is my curse that became a blessing. "I have epilepsy but epilepsy DOESN'T have me."​​

​Top Left: My teacher read the local paper and wrote “Good job Ashtin (No outfield ball contacts the ground!)” on my quiz

Top right: A news article written in the Florence SC local paper about me.

Bottom: the picture of the diving catch that was in the Florence paper

Holding two all-region softball awards for out-field and defense

​Media picture for

Charleston Southern University softball

Playing outfield on my travel

ball team, age 12.