James’s Story

By: James P. Patterson III

I started having seizures when I was 5 years old in 1985. As I got older, my seizures became more frequent and more intense. By the time I was 17, I was having an average of 25 seizures per day. It was then I decided that I wanted to have brain surgery since medication was having little to no effect on my epilepsy.

In 1997, I had a VEEG (video electroencephalogram) performed on me at Wake Forest University. During the test I had a tonic-clonic seizure (formerly known as grand mal seizure) that lasted approximately 40 minutes. The doctors and medical staff were able to detect that the seizures were starting in the left temporal lobe of the brain. In the summer of 1997, my left temporal lobe and hippocampus were removed.

I have been seizure free since the surgery. Side effects from the surgery are: difficulties in expressive communication, very weak vocabulary, and difficulties in recalling information (memory). After years of therapy, medication, and counseling, I have adapted to the issues.

While working on my bachelors at Appalachian State University, I started speaking publicly about my disability. I graduated from Appalachian in 2004 and immediately got a full-time job providing public service to the community that I still have to this day.

I spent 5 years volunteering in the epilepsy and neuro ICU at Carolina’s Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. I spoke to individuals and families as an advocate for epilepsy. I had the honor and privilege of being a committee member of Lung Strong 15K race in Charlotte, NC for 7 years.

I’ve been a runner since my freshman year of high school in 1994. Staying physically active (mostly running) has helped me handle the following side effects due to epilepsy: anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

I am the founder and director of Race For Epilepsy, in Washington, NC. It is a half marathon, 5K, and fun run/walk event. All money raised will be donated to CURE Epilepsy. Please visit www.raceforepilepsy.org for more information.

My hobbies include: running, biking, swimming, hiking, music performance, music composition, photography, and of course humor.

I have a wonderful wife with two adorable dogs who we call our children.