AN Essay Contest HOSTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
DOTDASH MEREDITH & REAL SIMPLE
14 Girls Write Now mentees share mini- and mega-moments of clarity in these personal essays.
A Splash of Light
By Ruby Faith Hentoff
I was floating, my elbows resting on the pool’s stone ledge as the jets massaged my back.
I stared up at the sapphire sky, reflecting about the play I’d been rehearsing that morning. That’s the last thing I remember.
When my eyes flew open, I was in a hospital bed, identical to the one I wound up in the day I had my first seizure, four years before. Except this time, I could’ve lost my life.
I started having seizures the summer before I entered fifth grade. My doctors had no idea what was sparking them, but nothing was life-threatening in the beginning. The seizures came in ten-second blips where I would temporarily lose my ability to speak and see. My thoughts were muffled and sentences partitioned in my brain; I wasn’t able to form a thought. Each time it happened, I was whisked to an alternate universe—one that was scary and surreal—that nobody else could see.
Everything worsened the following year, and the one after that. The episodes lengthened and struck more frequently. The medications I was taking didn’t manage to prevent the seizures; instead, they affected my mood, making me lonely and despondent.
It was the summer of 2019 when everything changed. I was still searching for a new homeopath since my favorite had passed away. My current one must have given me too many pills, because I’d never had a full-on tonic clonic seizure before then. If it weren’t for the lifeguard who rescued me the second I fell unconscious, I could have drowned. However, the incident prompted the doctors to do another MRI, in which they discovered the lesion in my brain causing all of my seizures. After months of research, they decided it could be removed. The operation occurred that January, and I haven’t had a single episode since then.
As painful as those four years were, I learned a valuable lesson: there is always a splash of light in the most grave of situations. My neurologist knew what to do, constantly searching for the right medicine and looking out for me. My surgeon is one of the best in the world and insisted on removing the lesion single-handedly. Doctors and nurses tended to me while I was in the hospital; friends, teachers, and old acquaintances I hadn’t seen in years came to visit. Everyone was there for me, praying that this would be the final phase of my cortical dysplasia. Thanks to them, it was.
My seizures left a scar on my memory that may never fade away. But the one aspect of my journey I will remember most is the wonderful people who took a drowning girl and brought her back to life.
My Simple Realization: An Essay Contest & Story Collection
14 Girls Write Now mentees share mini- and mega-moments of clarity in these personal essays. This contest was produced in partnership with Dotdash Meredith and the team at Real Simple as part of the SeeHer Initiative.
Ruby Faith Hentoff is a passionate fiction writer and junior in high school. When she’s not writing short stories, screenplays and songs, you can find her drawing, baking or listening to Broadway musicals. One of her missions in writing is to spread epilepsy awareness and connect to those who suffer from seizures. She lives in Manhattan, New York.