Living Normally With Seizure with April Baker

AIH 51 | Living Normally With Seizure

 

When you think about seizure, what typically sparks in your mind is fear and pity for the person experiencing it. However, people suffering from it like April Baker, the manager of Stagecoach Entertainment, have long been living normally with seizure. She walks us through her life, beginning with how she first experienced it and when she was diagnosed. April explains the different kinds of seizures, as well as the medications she takes and the adverse effects she has experienced. Realizing that there are better options other than the prescribed pills she has been taking, April shares how important it was for her to change what she was eating, change her lifestyle, and do meditation to help bring balance to her system and her brain.

Listen to the podcast here:

Living Normally With Seizure with April Baker

I’ve got a question for you. How many people do you think are working in a career that’s completely unrelated to what they went to college for?

Not many.

Do you mean the opposite? People aren’t working in what they studied.

No. In my time, yes. With the Millennials, absolutely not.

We’re a little bit obscure.

Yes, you are. Social media has taken over.

That was my experience. I graduated with a degree in film and television production and had a background as a chef. When I moved to LA, I left it all behind and restarted from the ground up. My whole philosophy or my intention was building my life with health as a priority. I didn’t have any idea that that was going to lead us to here. It was a couple of years ago when I first came to LA and I came with a little bit of savings. My dad had an apartment in LA at the time, so I was bunking up with him for the first couple of months or so that I was here. I remember I decided to take a month off because I had been going to school and working full-time in Austin for about four or five years and decided to come to LA, take some time off and figure out what to do next. I knew that I didn’t want to do the whole chef-ing thing, at least not in a professional sense in a kitchen or anything. I’ll always cook but not professionally and that environment anymore. I knew I wasn’t that interested in following the film and television degree that I had gotten. I had this moment of not knowing what to do.

I phrased that as, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” but it will turn out to be good for you.

I came to LA not having a clear direction or not having a clear idea of what I wanted to do. I came up with the simple idea of if I don’t know what to do, I’m going to focus on being healthy and rebuild my life with that as a foundational element. I moved here and taken about a month off and then I started going to yoga classes. I had probably done five to ten yoga classes before moving to LA but I was interested in it. Do you want to know why I first started going to yoga?

Why?

The simplest reasons were, one, I was interested in flexibility and two, I was interested in the girls that were going to yoga. When I first moved to LA, I went on Yelp and I was looking for the least expensive yoga studio because I wasn’t working. I had probably about $10,000 in savings and I wanted to take some time off. I went to find the cheapest yoga studio I could find. They did a week free and then $99 a month. The studio was called Veda Yoga in Culver City. I started going every single day at around 10:30. It was two weeks into going to that studio when they went, “We’re doing a yoga teacher training coming up. Are you interested?” I remember thinking, “Yes, I’m interested,” but it’s also $2,500 to enroll in a yoga teacher training.

AIH 51 | Living Normally With Seizure
Living Normally With Seizure: A seizure is typically thirty seconds to two minutes of the time that you’re coming out of it, but it feels like an eternity.

 

You spent a fourth of your whole savings on a yoga class. It paid off if you think about it.

It definitely did pay off.

You’ve taught hundreds of classes and you met thousands of people while teaching them. It honed your skills. You paid for an extension of college or real-life college. For $2,500, what a great learning experience.

Honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting into. To me, when I first got into yoga, it was this physical practice of stretching and moving through these prescribed poses. I was trying to get strong and flexible and I didn’t go into that teacher training, having any idea of what yoga was in terms of philosophy and meditation. I’ve never meditated. I wasn’t into the yoga philosophy when I first got into it and the breathwork. If you look at the tradition of yoga, it’s the path to enlightenment and most people in the West, myself included, were never interested in any of that. I remember the first day of yoga teacher training, they go through the eight-limb path of yoga and the pinnacle of the path is enlightenment. I remember looking at that and going, “That’s not for me. I might be going to stick up here in the physical practice and the breathing part of it,” because you’re only interested in what resonates with you.

The breathwork, the meditation and your background as being a chef and being in food. What is the combination of that? Like the microbiome, you talked about it a lot and healing the gut. You must have brought all those elements to the table of helping the body heal post.

I started to learn more about all these different practices. Part of the teacher training went into gut health, the Indian practice would be Ayurveda. That’s all about bringing balance to your system and through food. Through that, I eventually studied deeper into nutrition, I learned how what we eat, the quality of food we eat and the types of food that we eat have a direct impact on our gut health, which then has a direct impact on every system in our body. There’s a strong correlation between the health of your gut, levels of inflammation and how healthy your brain is and how capable you are to heal.

Inflammation is such a keyword you said there. We have a partner named Dr. Bruce Howe. Do you want to talk about Nutragen? Because I know that you’re a big fan of it.

Knowing how important it is to have a healthy microbiome and knowing how important it is to have some high-quality foods in the system to help build the body, my philosophy is if you want your body to be as healthy as possible, you have to put the best possible ingredients into it. What Bruce has done is he designed a whole stack of nutritional supplements reducing inflammation, which has been according to him the leading cause of all diseases. If you haven’t checked out Bruce Howe’s podcast, go check it out because he’s a wonderful man who goes on gratitude, walks and hugs people.

The way he sources his ingredients is amazing. It’s organic. It’s all made in the States and the guy is such a geek when it comes to the brain, especially with people like myself or others with neuro issues such as epilepsy and stuff like that.

He’s a chiropractor who wasn’t seeing the results he wanted in his practice and decided to create this whole supplement protocol to help his clients and his patients to heal. We had the fortune of meeting him and running into him up in Reno and then becoming affiliated and partnered with them. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet to check out Nutragen or experience what they’ve got, pop over to their website. They have amazing products: greens powder, protein powder and digestive enzymes to help the whole body to reduce inflammation and heal. To get connected through us, if you type in, Adventure, in that first thing in the checkout, it’s going to pull up Sean Entin and Taylor Smith with Adventures in Health and you click one of those. You’re signed up for us. Everything that you’re doing to support your own health is also going to support our mission and our cause for the podcast.

Let’s talk about how we make the shakes and why it tastes so good because it’s healthy, but it tastes unbelievable. Do you want to share what you put in that mix?

Having a seizure is absolutely terrifying, not before the seizure but after the seizure. Click To Tweet

Usually, what we’ll do is we’ll take the greens, the protein, the digestive powder and the cleanse powder and put it into a blender with a little bit of water in the bottom so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. We’ll take some frozen spinach, frozen Kale, frozen berries and some frozen fruit so it tastes good.

Mangoes, strawberries, blueberries and almond butter and then we usually mix some almond milk in there. It’s a full meal replacement. It’s a healthy way to get everything in there. It’s great for the kids and helps me with digestive issues as well.

I love to hit one of those either before or after yoga, depending on how the whole flow works. You’re getting all of this super high-quality nutrition protein around exercising. As your body is rebuilding, you’re rebuilding with the highest quality materials. If you haven’t gone and checked out Nutragen yet, pop over to their website. This is an easy, simple and efficient way to start bringing in these great nutritional resources into your body. Another note, if you have not yet had the chance to jump over to iTunes, subscribe to the podcast and leave a five-star rating and review. We would appreciate you going and doing that. Take the time to pop over to iTunes because this is the easiest way to help grow this show and help make sure that these episodes are getting out to people who need to hear them and we can start spreading the mission and spreading the cause.

Let’s talk about our guest because she’s special.

It relates well to what we’re talking about because she was originally one of my yoga students when I first started teaching at Veda Yoga and her name’s April Baker. We got to know each other over time and then I went to dinner with her months ago. I told her about the podcast and she goes, “I would love to come on and tell my story because I’ve been working through having epilepsy for my entire life.” The way she describes it is epilepsy can be very scary because you never know when you’re going to have a seizure and then sometimes you could be driving and all of a sudden you have a seizure, which happened to her. It was great to hear her talk about this topic that I didn’t know much about other than I know what an epileptic seizure is.

It’s a mini-stroke. It rattles the brain and can affect everything. It stops someone right in their tracks if it’s not addressed and taken care of. What she’s doing, I believe is she’s attending to her gut first and taking care of her gut, which will take care of her brain, which is all about what you deal with your cooking, the Nutragen and everything else.

She mentioned in the episode how important it was for her to change what she was eating to help bring balance to her system and bring balance to her brain. Without further ado, we’ll go check in with Ms. April Baker.

April, welcome to the show. How are you doing?

I am incredible. How are you?

We’re doing great over here. How are you doing, Seany?

I’m here listening.

AIH 51 | Living Normally With Seizure
Living Normally With Seizure: You can have a seizure and never have one again.

 

April, tell everyone who you are, what you do and then we’ll roll it from there.

My name is April Baker and I am a talent manager. I represent a lot of actors in the youth and young adult space. A lot of them have some big projects coming out and I will say that it is very high stress. I’m sure many people say that their field is incredibly stressful but it is a very stressful industry. It’s ever-changing and ever-evolving every day. I don’t know what I’m going to get into. You can control so much in this industry, which is not much. It’s very competitive and your client can be the best actor in the room and not get that job. A lot of what we do isn’t just juggle schedules, work with travel and help with contracts and whatnot. A lot of what we do is very much the psychological aspect of it. When people are down, it’s about bringing them up and reminding them that, “Here’s what you need and here’s how we can make it better,” and to stay positive. When you’re in an industry that’s 99% rejection, that weighs heavy even on the most talented of humans. Mentally stable of humans, rejection is wearing. In essence, that’s what a talent manager does, we do a lot of taking care of our clients in so many different ways.

Beyond simply what you do, I want to start to get into a little bit of behind the scenes of what is this health challenge that’s been with you throughout your life? Get us in from the beginning.

The reason I brought up the high-stress environment of my job is that it does directly correlate to what it is that I do for a living. I have epilepsy and I do have grand mal seizures.

Is there a distinction between that and a normal seizure?

Grand mals are most seizures. There are petit mals and there are some seizures that are like space-outs where you can look at a person and you see that they’re not connecting to you but they’re still present. Maybe I might have those occasionally but not have been diagnosed with those, but the grand mal is a knockout. You go down with heavy shaking and it’s a straight blackout. Having a seizure is absolutely terrifying. Not before the seizure but after the seizure because when you come out of it, you don’t know who you are, you don’t know where you are and you don’t know what happened. Oftentimes, you have paramedics screaming at you, “What’s your name? Where are you? Who is the president?” They’re coming at you. They’re trained to get your blood flowing. When you are out of the seizure, you do not have answers. All of it is this attack on you and mentally, you’re not able to connect any of the dots. It’s 100% the idea of your computer crashes, it’s rebooting and it’s trying to figure it all out. It’s like the pinwheel of death when you’re waiting for your computer to load.

It feels like at the moment when you’re coming out of a seizure, it’s taking ten to twenty minutes apparently and this is what you’re told because you don’t know. It’s only 30 seconds to two minutes of this time that you’re coming out of it but it feels like an eternity. I feel like I know what it’s like to be a computer. I feel like I know what it’s like to be a robot and to be rebooted. That’s the most basic way I can explain what it is that I go through after a seizure.

I’m in awe because we are so related because a seizure is a mini-stroke in the brain because I had to learn how to reboot. At 39, I had to learn how to talk, write and drive a car all over again. When you have a seizure, as what I know about it, it literally disconnects the brain from the body and you’re almost starting over. A seizure is less severe than a stroke because the blood and oxygen that goes to the brain are cut off for a little bit but it comes back and there’s no permanent damage.

Let’s say you see somebody having a seizure. There are so many misconceptions about what you do. You don’t put a wallet in somebody’s mouth. You don’t put anything in the mouth. If someone’s having a seizure, all you can do is hold them and make sure they don’t hit their head. If a seizure goes over five minutes, that’s when you’re looking at possible severe brain damage. Most seizures are about 30 seconds to two minutes but if you started to see it hit that three-minute mark, you might be looking at some brain damage there. It’s more of a disconnection of a wire. We all have phones and our wires are often hanging on by a thread and you have to jigger it to make it work and that’s what happens in the seizure, the wiring is off.

Do you have any preconception of, “I’m about to have a seizure, I should probably sit or lie down?”

I had not been on medication. I started having my seizures when I was about 21-ish and I had not received the full diagnosis until I was 32. I always knew when I was susceptible because my triggers are lack of sleep, high stress and if I drink, I would have seizures the next day. I’m not talking a glass of wine but it was always an accumulation of three different things at once. I knew if I was out the night before and I was stressed or if I had insomnia, I don’t go out the next day. When I took the medication, I started getting these things called auras. If you read about epilepsy, you hear about them, you’re like, “These things exist.” An aura is freaky.

Whatever obstacle is in your way, you can push it aside and go down a different street. Click To Tweet

What do you mean by that? Paint a picture for everyone.

Imagine having an out of body experience. Imagine you’re conscious but you’re completely unconscious at the same time. It’s almost as if your brain leaves your body and you see yourself from the outside. I feel like my head is in a bit of a bubble and it’s in a cloud. I’ve got about a four-second window where I can grab somebody’s hand and I can say, “I’m going down.” An aura feels very similar to a panic attack. That’s what’s scary because if you start getting panic attacks and you have an aura, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what is what. An aura is such an odd disconnect where you feel like your brain is leaving you. It’s like you’re conscious and you have this foam and the smoke, you almost feel like you’re about to float away and then you go out. Once you go out, that’s it. You don’t remember or feel. I’m not afraid of death because I have had seizures but it’s that similarity to the panic attack where your breathing is off and you’re starting to get a little sweaty. It’s the feeling like your brain has left your body. It’s crazy and hard to explain.

Do you feel like you go with it when your brain leaves your body or all blackness?

Once you feel the aura, it goes black. You go dark and you don’t remember anything.

I went through with it too with the stroke and you lose perception like I didn’t know what my hand was. First of all, my left hand went down but I was looking at the mirror and I didn’t know who I was in the mirror. You have no idea what is happening and you feel that your soul is leaving the body. It’s amazing to hear your point of view because I talked to so many people with stroke and our brain injuries but they never explained it the way you explained it.

April, you said you had your first experience with seizures around 21 and wasn’t officially diagnosed until 32. To me, in my mind I’m like, “This seems like a pretty obvious diagnosis.” Seizures are usually very tangible experiences. Someone can go, “That person is having a seizure.” How come it took so long to reach that?

This is why my trust for the health professionals is so low and I mean no disrespect to doctors. My first seizure was on a college campus. I had been drinking the night before. I was tired, I was super exhausted and I remember taking a phone call and apparently, what happened is I stood up, I stared at my friends and the freaky pre-seizure stare and then I collapsed. When the paramedics brought me into the hospital, they had been saying things like, “How much cocaine did she throw back? What kind of drugs did she take?” When I came out of the seizure, they were very nasty to me. As soon as things started to come to and I could remember who I am and the blood’s circulating back and the wires are connecting, I was able to say my mom has epilepsy.

When I said that, the room shifted, all of a sudden everybody was nice to me. All of a sudden, they wanted to take care of me but in the first few seizure scenarios because drinking and drugs can be tied in too, they don’t see this diagnosis because it’s a one-off. I don’t think I had my second seizure, if I remember correctly, for about another year or so. You can have a seizure and never have one again, that can absolutely happen. For those people, congratulations. It was when it got into the third or fourth one that I had to start asking questions and these are one year apart. I’m having about one a year. I grew up with my mom having seizures once a month, sometimes two in a week.

My view of epilepsy was, “You’re having them all the time.” It wasn’t this, “You can have them every now and then.” When I went to the hospitals, they would take me to the ER. They wouldn’t send me to a neurologist and they wouldn’t give me referrals. I would get stuck with this gigantic bill and that was it. It wasn’t until I went to my fourth seizure in my twenties where this one doctor was so wonderful and she asked me all these questions. She said, “Tell me about this. Do you do this? Do you do that? How about this?” That’s when I started to realize that there was a direct correlation. Let’s use a Cubs game for an example. You go into the Cubs game, you drink four beers and then the next day your body goes through alcohol withdrawal. That was one of my triggers. It was always in combination with stress and lack of sleep.

She helped me realize that was a part of a trigger for my seizures but I had never been diagnosed though. You go to the ER, you don’t get any medication, you don’t get a diagnosis, you’re not told to follow up with a neurologist and you’re on your way. That’s it. That had been going on for years in Chicago. I thought nothing of it because no one had made me think anything of it. I figured I had it pegged, I knew how to control it and I knew what it was and it’s no big deal. Cut to when I moved to California, I was 31, 32-ish. I had gone to a movie the night before with my friends and was home early. I had not been drinking, I had not been under any kind of stress but I had a wicked case of insomnia. I woke up feeling exhausted, feeling heavy and feeling the signs but because all three of my triggers weren’t in place, I ignored the symptoms. I had also taken an antibiotic that night because I couldn’t sleep. I’m like, “Maybe I’m sick.” I took an antibiotic. I didn’t sleep. I got in my car and I took a left turn. My boyfriend at the time was behind me and I almost got hit by a bus and crashed my car.

The next thing I know, I’m in the hospital. I’m forced to see a neurologist and I’m put on this medication for the rest of my life and finally given this diagnosis. That’s part of the reason it took so long. It almost felt like they didn’t care. In California, if you get into that car crash, your license is going to be pulled and you are in serious trouble. You are not just a health risk but you’re a physical risk to others, which makes sense. I understand that and I respect that. I was forced to see the neurologist versus left alone to go figure it out into the wilderness, so to speak.

AIH 51 | Living Normally With Seizure
Living Normally With Seizure: When you start putting any neurological medication in your body, your body chemistry changes.

 

You have become somewhat of a liability to be in a car. What came to me while you’re telling that story is it sounds a little bit scary to know that you have seizures but you never know when it could possibly happen. You said once a year but for the rest of the year, you are wondering in the back of your mind when this could happen.

Before I had the medication and before I had the diagnosis, I wasn’t worried because I knew what my triggers were. There was always a little bit of a pattern but it was once I got on the medication that it shifted and it changed. I started having more seizures once I’ve gone on the medication and that’s when the aura started. A couple of years later, that’s when the panic attack started. That’s what made this scary all of a sudden. Before I felt like I can control it and then I’m on this medication, which shouldn’t be in theory making them go away or less, why am I having two a year now? That’s not right.

The antiepileptic medication made you have more seizures?

At first, it had.

From there, what was your process of coming to terms with that and figuring out how to deal with it?

You never come to terms with it. Maybe you do come to terms. It’s a friendly enemy, so to speak. I had always felt like maybe I was misdiagnosed on the medication. Why did I have the seizure? I didn’t have all three of my triggers. This doesn’t make any sense, but insomnia is a huge trigger for epilepsy. While I’m sitting in my hotel room seven months after I had been diagnosed, I’m watching a PBS special about antibiotics and the FDA in black boxing. All of a sudden, they start talking about this antibiotic called Levaquin. It was like, “Levaquin is a black box by the FDA. It helps trigger seizures and it causes seizures.” I’m like, “That is the medication I took the night before I had my car accident. That is it.”

It was a sample pack from a doctor friend. There was no black box, it was just like, “Here’s a sample.” When I went to my doctor, I told him and he went pale. He didn’t have an answer for me but he had realized that was very important information. My problem with that first doctor and a problem that a lot of people with epilepsy have is that you are very scared to talk to your doctor because they don’t offer solutions as much as they say, “We’re going to pull your driver’s license and we’re going to do this.” There’s a lot of threatening going on. When you’re in a situation where you’re telling your doctor, “I’m worried that I might have been given the wrong medication. This causes seizures. Could this had triggered it?” You can’t have that open conversation. That is a scary feeling.

This is the person you are paying to try to protect you and they’re threatening to take your license. They don’t want to help you, they want to give you more medication and they want to up your dose. I had stayed with that doctor for another year and a half and the seizures were still continuing. Getting a neurologist is very difficult I have learned and you need a referral. I wasn’t finding referrals and I didn’t have insurance at the time. Finally, I had found a referral. A rich friend knows a neurologist. They set me up and I go meet her. She’s the head of USC or UCLA and she’s a big deal, one of the top ones in the country. I go to her office. She doesn’t look at a chart. She doesn’t examine me whatsoever. She has a conversation with me and thus then says to me, “Are you going to have children?” I said, “Absolutely not.” She goes, “I’m going to change your medication anyway. Here you go. Here’s the prescription.” I was like, “I am not taking this medication. You don’t even know what’s wrong. You haven’t even looked at a chart and you’re going to give me this drug. This is out of control.”

I never took the medication and I never followed up. It took me another year to find another neurologist and I explained everything in great detail. I told him the entire journey and he says, “Maybe this medication is not for you. Let’s try another medication.” I trusted him and I felt good. We talked through it. I tried this other medication. By the way, I take Keppra. That is what I started with and that is what I’m taking. They had given me this anticonvulsant called Lamictal, which is also used to treat people with bipolar. I do not have bipolar. I know more than any, anyone who has estrogen does. I started taking Lamictal and it was making me crazy. I’m talking like angry and volatile and then in about three months, I had three seizures in one day. I don’t know how people can take it.

To sidetrack this, here’s what you learn when you take something like this. Taylor, I know that you’re very much like the human experiment kind of guy. I felt like, “This is human experimentation.” I had watched my mother growing up with epilepsy. I had watched her take all these drugs and get re-diagnosed all the time. When you start putting any neurological medication in your body, your body chemistry changes. To a degree where I could feel the right side of my brain start to tingle and get heavy. My head would fall to the right side a little bit and it was crazy to feel the chemicals in your body change. If you’re somebody who’s got a neurological disorder or been diagnosed with some mental disorder of some kind and the drugs are constantly changing, how are you supposed to get stable when the chemistry is so erratic? It was a gnarly experience. It was not a great experience but I’m so glad it happened because to be able to feel your body chemically change and be aware of it, in my opinion it helps you get through a lot more in your life.

You’re hitting on this core practice of awareness. As you become more aware of these feelings and sensations and what’s happening in your body, especially when you put something new in, you start to understand how the system’s working in you. From there, you’re able to take action. Seany?

So many people get a first opinion from one doctor that don't really study other philosophies and styles. Click To Tweet

It’s deeper than all that, Taylor, because the doctors don’t know and they’re afraid to make a decision. They’re afraid to do anything outside of the normal box. When you introduce that chemistry into the body or a pill, whatever she’s on and I’ve been on everything you said. I was on Keppra because I was under seizure watch after my stroke. What they don’t realize what’s going on is they’re changing the chemistry. How do you introduce into a healthy woman a drug? She’s having a seizure at that moment and they don’t want to deal with it. The first neurologist didn’t even want to examine her. That’s what people like myself with brain injury and stroke and whether it’s CTE or depression, it changes everything. It can make you angry and sad.

My heart goes out to you, April. I’m like, “How dare them?” For someone who’s been on this journey and recovering and we talked to thousands of people, we go through this every single day and it pisses me off because there are easier ways to heal this. Taylor, in the past year than I’ve known you, everything you’ve introduced me to have been so much better than any of these drugs. Whether it’s the miracle gift that we drink every morning or different supplements. I could tell you things but I’m not a doctor and everyone’s got their own makeup but April, good for you. I’m proud of you for making these decisions. What I want to ask is what do you do to complement the meds that you’re on?

The one thing that was great about this doctor is that he was like, “I don’t have the answers. I don’t know. We tried this and this failed. I failed you. I’m going to send you to this doctor.” I have an incredible doctor out of Cedars-Sinai. I’ve got to tell you I love Cedars-Sinai. They are a non-for-profit hospital. I have insurance but before I did, they worked with me and they worked with my numbers. It was such an incredible experience and I can talk to my doctor. I can talk to Dr. Jeffrey and we have gone back onto my original medication, which is Keppra. I have to tell you this story because this is my favorite part of this whole story. The Lamictal made me insane. It caused three seizures in a day. I’ve been with Dr. Jeffrey for about two years and I’m about a year and a half seizure free. I’m cleaning, I’m Marie Kondo-ing my house and I’m going through all this paperwork. I find the prescription that neurologist had given me that I never ever turned in. Lo and behold, it was Lamictal.

The thing is I was introduced to that drug. I lasted a couple of days and I got off of it because what it did was the rest of my body was killing me because I was dealing with pain and neurological pain through my left side, which is my weak side. I tried it and it was horrific. It was eating me up from the inside out and got off it. I’m winding down on a lot of my drugs but I can understand, they had me on a cocktail fourteen to fifteen pills at one point. How do you know what’s working and what’s not working if you don’t start to understand it yourself? That’s what I want to project on the show. The reason why we’re even talking is because there are other avenues out there besides Lamictal. I’m so happy you found the Keppra because it’s working for you.

I met Taylor in a wonderful part of my life. I didn’t do yoga teacher training program and I was forced to study meditation and study diet. I had always heard about the ketogenic diet. I always read about it but when you’re on this medication, which is antiepileptic medicine, it’s one of the most toxic medications you can put in your body. My doctor had advised going up a higher dose and I said, “I’m going to hold the beat.” I was very direct with him. I go, “I’m going to try some things and I’m going to talk to you about it. I’m not going up.” I started reading about diet. It’s as simple as that. I have an incredibly high-fat diet like avocado and fish. I eat a lot of fat. I stay away from sugar. My body naturally rejects sugar, which is good. I only do carbs in insane moderation. Your brain is made of fat and your brain needs fat. I’m very thin. I only weigh 105 to 110 pounds and I do dance so I work out a lot but I can’t have carbs. If I eat sugar, I can feel my body change. I could feel these little glitches in my system, I can feel these little twitches sometimes and I’m like, “I can feel that.”

I meditate and I make sure I sleep eight hours. If I don’t sleep eight hours, I will not necessarily drive the next day even though I can and I haven’t had one in a very long time because I know what these things are. When you’re working in this high-stress environment and people dump their problems on you all day long, you have to be the core, you have to find ways to distress you. I have CBD a few times and I definitely know I bought a seizure off once. It’s been the diet, the meditation and the overall lifestyle change that I feel very confident more so than the medication that has allowed me to say that I am not aware of having a seizure for almost two years.

Have you thought about meditating and telling yourself that it doesn’t exist anymore and the seizures are now gone? Have you visualized and said, “I’m going to believe in myself, I’m going to push this outside of me,” and focus in and say, “My body is healthy.” I have a line I started in my stroke recovery, “I can, I shall, I will,” and I was able to walk. I was paralyzed but I bet you if you start to visualize, meditate and you work with Taylor here and you put that belief in your system, those seizures will start to disappear a lot more and more.

That’s a great idea. I’m excited because I want to try it.

I will say this to you, I’m not a doctor. It’s only based on my story. Taylor’s so brilliant with diet and the food. Taylor, what am I taking every day? What’s it called? I think April would be amazing on it.

He’s talking about a supplement I discovered. I might have told you about this but a supplement I discovered called The Gift. We affiliate with a company called Mother Earth Labs who sources it. What it is to me is it’s this foundational essential mineral nutrient supplement because what it’s doing is it’s recreating the nutritional profile we’re supposed to be getting in our food from the soil. The truth of the matter is in the modern world, we’re not growing food in fertile soil. If we’re not growing food in fertile nutrient-rich soil, we’re not getting all of the foundational components we need to build healthy cells, to build a healthy body and to build a healthy nervous system. It comes from the simple fact that we’re never taught and we haven’t worked at understanding what the body needs. One of the things you touched on in there too was the ketogenic diet and the high-fat diet and the reason you brought that up is that it has been studied as a way to reduce epileptic seizures.

It can help up with the recovery for the neuro world too, like ketones. The Gift rebuilt my stomach lining because I was on so many meds. I’m purging, I’m detoxing and I feel better. I feel clarity with this stuff and I’m looking to promote because I believe in what Taylor said. Another note, you mentioned the CBD. I started a CBD company before I started this show. If you ever need any good CBD, we have a partner of ours called Tribe to Table, which is phenomenal. I don’t put anything in my body unless it’s been validated by my team. I still have a team of doctors but it’s becoming less and less in my life because I want to take my own healing into my own hands.

AIH 51 | Living Normally With Seizure
Living Normally With Seizure: Your body tells you everything that is wrong. Your body tells you what it needs.

 

I commend you on what you’re doing and we all need a friend like Taylor Smith because he knows and I had been with him. I fought him on certain things and as he introduced me to more supplements and more things that he believes in, it makes sense. I’m on blood pressure medication because there’s still the risk of stroke but it’s lessening and lessening. The amount of antidepressants and antianxiety pills that these people want to put me on and they tried me on Lamictal and I’m like, “For what reason because I have pain in my shoulder?”

It was ludicrous to me. It’s ludicrous that someone would say that. I too am not a doctor but for shoulder pain, that’s crazy.

I want to loop back around, April, on something I heard that you mentioned. That was this experience you had of going to the doctor for help and not that they didn’t do something for you but it sounds to me like, at the core of it, you wanted to have a conversation, you wanted to be heard and you wanted to be understood. It’s not that the doctors don’t mean well because I know anyone who’s going out there and spending eight to ten years on getting a medical degree, they mean well but it’s coming from maybe they don’t have enough time, maybe they don’t have the resources to sit down and connect with the human that you are and have that conversation to understand, “What does April need?” Not what is the by-the-book case study.

The last two doctors were so phenomenal but those first two, it was like push them in, push out. I had better treatment in ERs. You guys are the heads of your fields in Los Angeles County and you’re not even reading a chart. It horrifies me to think that so many people in this world go to that first opinion and go to that first doctor that don’t study other philosophies and other styles and look at what the Earth has provided us to try and have in front of us. That’s what the takeaway for this was for me, never ever can you take a first opinion. Never can you take a second opinion. Your body tells you everything that is wrong. Your body tells you what it needs. Are you listening?

The other thing too, I tell everyone I have epilepsy. All the agents I know and I work with, they all know I have it. My clients know I have it. As I said, I’m a dancer. I do aerial dancing. I am upside down. Everyone in my community knows about it because it’s empowering. It’s good to talk about it because I don’t feel like I have something wrong with me. It’s like, “This is what it is. Here you go.” When you do that, in my opinion, it opens up conversations. You learn about people’s journeys like yours is incredible. If I was never open about my condition, I would have never known about what you did and how you got through tremendously what you got through.

You’re living life to the fullest. You’re not letting somebody else tell you what you can’t do. That’s brilliant because you’re used to living your life, you’re hanging upside down, you’re dancing and you’re an agent in a very high-stress environment, which I have no idea how you do every day but you do it well I’m sure but you’re living life. You’re not giving up and saying, “I’ll take a pill. I’m going to pop on the couch now and wind down.” That’s a big thing that we talk about on the show is get people standing up and start moving. If you move, you’re going to improve.

I want to emphasize this point because if you blink, you might miss it. That’s what you said in terms of listening to your body. No matter what you’re going through in your life, if you sit and you start to get in the habit of listening to your brain, listening to your thoughts, listening to your feelings and listening to the physical sensations in your body, you start to become your own advocate and your own advocate for health and healing.

She’s not a statistic. She’s a human being that’s taken the power into her own hands. Believe it or not, April, you’re allowing your heart to heal you through meditation and yoga. Taylor’s been saying to me, “If you allow your heart to heal, your body and your brain, you’re going to be 100%.” What I’ve learned is that I don’t need to be 100% to be happy. I surrender in meditation and I surrender to whether you call it God or spirit or my family or my love and I’m good.

What Sean’s getting at in terms of the way he talks about me is that what I’ve studied in my life and what I believe in is that the body was born with this inherent intelligence to take care of itself. The way I approach health and the reason I work with Sean is that if we give the body all the foundational resources that it needs and we get the body out of stress and we get the body out of inflammation, it tends to do amazing things for itself. It’s almost stepping back and saying, “I’m not even involved in this healing.” An easy way to think about it is if you get a cut, do you have to sit and focus and watch your cut for it to heal? No. That would be the most obnoxious healing process ever. What happens is your body has this innate intelligence to go, “There’s a cut in your arm. We’re going to sew it back together in our own way.” As the injury becomes more severe, so does the level of healing that needs to happen and the level of resources your body needs to create that healing. If you create that environment, there are so many stories out there of people having these tremendous healings because they allowed their body to get into the space where magic could happen.

Look at the people on the show up to date. It blows me away who we interview on a daily basis, even April Baker right now. She’s teaching me something. She’s forcing me to look inside myself and going, “Why am I doing this? How comparable her trauma and my trauma are?” It’s short-circuiting the brain. The videos I’ve done earlier on, the computer circuits in my brain got misconnected and misfired. We’re having to reboot these and reconnect everything at the moment. It’s through our alternative ways of healing. We had on a girl, Dana Rivera, she had a severe stroke and in a sense she took her life on her own hand. She started to meditate and do her yoga. She’s a little bit older and she’s almost 100%. She’s married, has adult kids and she speaks on these and everything you’re talking about. You are a miracle because your voice has to be heard. Thank you for showing up and talking to us because I love it.

Thank you for allowing me to because I am so excited to talk about epilepsy because people don’t know what it is. Every single person I talked to about it is like, “What do I do if it happens?” What’s exciting for all of us, especially Sean, is that nobody knows what the brain knows and nobody knows what it does.

If you move, you're going to improve. Click To Tweet

We know a lot more about the moon and the outer space than we do about the brain. We can walk the moon but we can’t tell anybody what’s going on inside of our head because it’s yet to be explored. You and I are cutting into that. You and I can tell the stories. No neurologist, no MD and no shaman because we’re living through it every day and they’re going to document us someday to teach our kids’ kids’ kids’ kids. That’s how I feel about it.

We’re lucky that we’re in a time where there is so much more focus on neurological science because having a mother sick as I had. She is severely sick and she has schizoaffective but she wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar until she was 40 because these issues were not a thing. We’re only talking about the ‘90s, early 2000s when that all started to happen. To see how far we can come with stroke and with paralysis.

Is your mom still around?

Yes.

How is she doing?

As good as she can possibly be, all things considered. Therapy helps her get through most of it but she still has seizures and because she is under public healthcare, it’s still the medication change game. You know how stubborn people can be and how at a certain age, they’re not going to change their diet and that’s heartbreaking.

I get it. You can’t change everybody. You’ve got to get people to want to show up. That’s our motto over here to show up and listen. If you want to play with us, you can. If you don’t, you don’t have to.

The power we all have is the ability to change ourselves. The example that you’ve created, Sean, and the example you’ve created, April, is if you change yourself, you work at improving yourself and you share your story and you share what’s happening with you, people become inspired to take action in their own lives. The only power we have as humans is to show up in the best possible way and hope other people want to do the same.

It’s a choice. It’s choices that April and I are making every day to get better, to heal and to share.

April, I got one more question for you. This is a question we ask everyone on the show. What’s your inspiration?

My inspiration is the desire, love and passion for helping other people help themselves. To help people realize that whatever you think is “wrong with you” is not wrong with you. It’s right with you. It’s how you deal with it and it’s how you handle it. Whatever obstacle is in your way, you can push it to the side and you can go down a different street. You don’t need to keep going down the same one. My inspiration is helping other people, giving them the reminder that they’re okay because I feel like that’s all we have. All we can share with each other is positivity and that’s what inspires me. I’m inspired off that.

Thank you very much, April.

Thank you, guys. It was amazing to be on the show. What you guys are giving the world is so important and I have a few friends with serious conditions that I know this show is helping. Thank you for this.

You’re very welcome. Thank you.

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About April Baker

AIH 51 | Living Normally With SeizureApril Baker works in the high-stress entertainment business. She has to manage her stress levels and countless young clients all seeking their “big break.” But that’s not all. In the middle of her hectic daily schedule, she may have a life-threatening medical emergency–a grand mal seizure.

In this podcast, April shares her story including how she manages her health challenge and her busy life representing up and coming actors in the highly competitive youth acting arena.

 

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