In 2006 I was 22 years old, a single parent raising my two children while working part-time and going to Cosmetology school full-time. I was six weeks away from graduation when one morning I woke up with severe pain in my head—absolutely indescribable. I was vomiting and the pain would not stop. Later that evening my mother took me to the ER and all my vital signs were normal so they made me wait for hours before I was seen by a doctor; if only they knew I had a very deadly disease called Herpes Encephalitis. This meant that the same fever blisters that form on your mouth were forming onto the left side of my brain, causing infection, swelling, and bleeding.

I had a seizure and was in a medically induced coma. The doctor’s said I only had a 10% chance of surviving, but when I lived through the first week, they increased my chances to 20%. I did stop breathing at one point and I was put on life support, but I made it through an entire month in the hospital slowly recovering each day.

After being released, I couldn’t talk and did not understand things. Encephalitis has left me with permanent brain damage—I cannot learn anything new, I battle short-term memory loss, and I have migraines and seizures. It’s been 11 years now…I’ve since learned how to walk and regained language skills, but I still forget names and numbers. I am currently in the process of writing a book about my journey that will be released in 2020. I am also working and trying to expand the research done on Encephalitis.