Friday, May 26, 2017

Meagan Colorado: Lighting Up Her Social Circles

Drop a pebble into a pool of water and what happens? The ripples roll out from the center, ever expanding until natural forces slow or stop them.

Now picture Meagan Colorado as the pebble, and Stratford High School as her pool. There may be no natural force to slow or stop the graduating senior, who seemingly has no limit to the social circles that encompass her.

Meagan’s bright, sunny eyes light up as she introduces herself to a reporter and talks about how exciting it is to be the subject of a news story. It’s easy to see why she has so many friends.

Meagan “dropped” into Stratford as a freshman after attending Westwood Elementary and Shadow Oaks Middle. She was a typical freshman student, excited by what lay ahead of her while harboring normal fears about that same journey.

But Meagan had a larger concern. Diagnosed with epilepsy in seventh grade, she worried about the unpredictable seizures that define that neurological condition. While most of her seizures have been absence seizures, where the person briefly loses consciousness and “tunes out” for a short period of time, in eighth grade she had also experienced two grand mal seizures, which are far more serious, involving a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions.

“I can’t count how many absence seizures I’ve had,” Meagan said. While not as serious as grand mal, the social implications can be just as frustrating. “People just think you’re dumb,” she said. “It’s very embarrassing.”

She had her third – and to date, last – grand mal seizure during her freshman year. She said she was in a Stratford hallway when the seizure occurred, experiencing the violent contractions while a group of students and teachers watched, not really knowing what to do. Finally someone went and got the school nurse, who helped Meagan through the seizure.

“It shouldn’t be embarrassing, but it was,” said Meagan. She said she was sometimes made fun of during her sophomore year, which hurt her. “It made me feel bad,” she said, “but you can’t let people bring you down.”

She’s gotten better at managing the epilepsy, so much so that, while she’s obviously very visible in her social circles, she became less so to Stratford leadership.

“Meagan almost slipped off our radar this year,” said Stratford counselor Greg Fore, with a knowing chuckle. “Early on, her medical condition required a lot of attention. As she got older she started doing things differently.”

She started going to a summer camp especially for kids with epilepsy, a real eye-opener for her, she said, as she met others like herself – and some whose condition was much worse.

“Camp was really fun – it’s just like a normal summer camp,” said Meagan. “We all had something in common … there were so many different stories. And I saw some kids worse off than me … you realize that it can be worse.”

Meagan considers herself lucky that she’s only had three grand mal seizures.

She describes her second grand mal -- she watched in a mirror while she convulsed and went through the seizure. That’s unusual, because usually the person seizing is unconscious.

“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” she said. “I thought I was dying.” She said the experience is indescribable – “you have to experience it to really know what it’s like.”

Meagan said that she’s able to keep up with her work while managing the epilepsy. Because physical activity is a “feeder” to the epilepsy, she quit playing basketball her freshman year, which was hard for her. “Basketball was my passion,” she said.

She also credits a number of supportive people who continue to stand by her, most notably her mother, Suzie Wilson, an incredibly positive influence in her life.

“Honestly, I have no idea what I’d do without my mom, especially with my epilepsy,” she said. “Moms are cool.”

The youngest of three children, she plans to attend HCC, then the University of Houston, staying at home with her mother and her father, Edwin Colorado, so she can save money.

She’ll always have to manage her epilepsy, but Meagan Colorado has learned how to not let it slow her down.

“Now she’s standing strong and doing great,” said Fore, her Stratford counselor. “She’s found what it takes to handle herself … to where she keeps all that in check.”

The ever-cheerful Meagan is a bit more philosophical.

“It’s a struggle,” she said, “but it is what it is.”

by Rusty Graham


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