Events & News


Epilepsy Star: Margaret Mendez

Margaret Mendez has been chosen as an Epilepsy Star because of her passion in fighting for epilepsy awareness and raising the bar for the standard of care and compassion.  She has lived with epilepsy for many years of her life but has never let this stop her and by the looks of it, she is going stronger than ever.

Tell us a little about yourself: where do you live, what do you do?

I'm a single, 48 year-old mother of two, work two jobs and three years ago returned back to school. After earning my medical schooling certificate, I now work in hospitals as an EEG-Neurodiagnostic Technician. Have I forgotten to mention that I am and have been diagnosed with epilepsy my entire life?

How did epilepsy first touch your life?

Having epilepsy since infancy I have experience all its ups and downs. My partial seizure disorder was never controlled by anticonvulsant medications in my younger years, and at times I could suffer a few petit mal seizures per month with an occasional grand mal. Despite all of this, I have never let it hold me back in life. 

At the age of 26, after experiencing seizures during my first pregnancy, I found out I was a candidate for neurosurgery. Following several testing procedures, one specifically being the long-term EEG monitoring, in August of 1994, I underwent the elective surgery. The surgery consisted of two procedures which included IONM (Intraoperative Neuromonitoring) and a temporal lobectomy. It was so frightening and challenging, not to mention, I could never be promised it being successful.

After a year of recuperation and medication adjustments, my seizures appeared to be under control and life began to change. I was back to working in the administrative & accounting field, and two years later I was blessed with my daughter. Time has passed and I was on the lowest dosage of medications ever. I began to feel as though I now had full control of my life both physically and mentally. It was five years since the surgery when surprisingly, that year my seizures reappeared. To this day, my medications have been adjusted. Although I am not seizure free, I am grateful that my seizures are controlled by medications. 

How did you come to working in the field as an EEG technologist?

EEG testing procedures is something I'm accustomed to. Being diagnosed with epilepsy, an EEG is a procedure done regularly to the majority of us. Working in this field is something I can relate to and I bring to it a real passion for all others having the procedure done.

All people living with epilepsy regularly have an EEG test done, whether it is a routine in the doctor's office, ambulatory at home, or long-term recording done several days within a hospital. Myself, having it done throughout life, can recall back in the early 70's when an EEG consisted of the electrodes being little pins compressed on my scalp rather than just gel, and the recording printed on paper. Yes, that's how long I've been having the test done. Over time, I became intrigued and curious with the procedure. I wanted to understand more as to why this test was of importance, what it showed and why the doctors continuously did this to me. In October of 2014, I returned back to a medical training school, completed my externship and now work in a hospital doing EEGs on patients, with the majority being diagnosed of seizure disorders. I have to say that I really enjoy and have a passion for it. I feel I can relate to the patients at all ages and family members in one way or another.

What awareness movements do you belong to?

I became an advocate for epilepsy and began following local and national groups, whether it is in person or on the internet. My passion and concern for all epileptics prompted me to attend public hearings, speak up and give recommendations at meetings with the EFNJ (Epilepsy Foundation of NJ). Currently I am also a member of the Epilepsy Free foundation (which thankfully granted me a $1000.00 educational scholarship) and the Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group. I also chat with members of epilepsy groups located on Facebook. 

What plans do you have for your work in epilepsy for the upcoming year?

I am now studying and preparing for the board exams with ABRET (American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic Technologists) this coming year.

What would you like seen accomplished going forward in epilepsy?

There are many different things that we, epileptics, could give recommendations to and/or see accomplished.

Myself, after experiencing it personally in the past, along with discussing this with others, presently, I do believe epileptics are still discriminated against in the workforce and this really should be addressed. 

Another, would be a recommendation to work on inventing the wireless EEG electrodes. Rather than long wires hanging uncomfortably from a person's head for several days at times during recording; it would be great if the electrodes were wireless. In this day in age, we live with wireless phones, internet, solar power, etc; yet they have not created a way to record out EEG without long extension wires hanging from our heads uncomfortably. Those are some of the things I think we should work on for the future.


Twitter Facebook