Wednesday, November 4, 2015

For National Epilepsy Awareness Month: Let's celebrate Erica Laney RN, a nurse with epilepsy!


For National Epilepsy Awareness month, I "chatted" with Erica Laney, a nurse/mentor with ExceptionalNurse.com. Erica was diagnosed with epilepsy at 11 years old. She has grand-mal seizures and has been practicing as a nurse for four years. Here is some of what we discussed.


DM: Did you need accommodations in nursing school? Were you met with discrimination?

EL:"I tried to be open in nursing school and yes I was met with discrimination and resistance.  Initially no accommodations were needed.  I actually had a seizure during clinicals during my second year; and after that was required to have a "shadow" during clinicals for the safety of my patients."  

DM: Did you require accommodations on NCLEX?
EL:"No accommodations were needed".

DM: While working as a nurse, do you need accommodations?
EL:"No accommodations are needed for work; if I am sick or have an "episode/aura" I call in and go home."

DM: Where do you work? Did you disclose? Accommodations? Challenges?
"I currently work as a Hospice nurse at Community Hospice of Northeast Florida.  I go to people's homes/and assisted living facilities and mostly work from my car.  I didn't disclose immediately, and actually didn't do it until I had an episode at a patient's house.
The only accommodation they have made for me is to allow my husband to drive my vehicle for me. I am working on getting my driver's license back."

What has contributed to your success?
"I chose to stay positive, think outside the box and stay away from the typical "floor" nursing role. I knew I couldn't leave a hospital floor if I needed to." 

DM: Finding the right niche is so important for nurses with disabilities. 

DM: What would you say to another nurse or nursing student with epilepsy? Advice? suggestions?

EL: Stay positive!!! There is hope! Evaluate your type of epilepsy. Do you have an aura? Warning signs? Try to be as honest as possible with your co-workers if you feel comfortable. It's better to disclose and have people around you aware of your situation instead of being surprised! Epilepsy doesn't have to be a burden; I use it often to connect with patients and even co-workers. 

DM: Your positive attitude shines through!

EL: "Epilepsy may change your life--but that isn't always a bad thing!"

DM: Erica, thanks so much for sharing your story with us. We celebrate you and others with epilepsy this month. You are a role model to others and have demonstrated that nursing with epilepsy is possible!