Although Blake Bates, a Rock Canyon High School student shaved his hair off during Wish Week to demonstrate support for Hope, a child with a life threatening condition, he didn’t realize that he was deserving of a wish as well. Taking into account his frequent stays at Children’s hospital and severity of his seizures, his mom submitted a wish referral inquiry to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Recently, he was granted a wish because he too has a potentially life threatening health condition. Make-A-Wish made it possible for Bates and his family to attend The Anime Expo in Los Angeles which is similar to Comic Con, but for anime fans. The Make-A-Wish foundation took care of expenses such as flight and stay. Bates got a VIP pass where he met YouTubers and some of his favorite anime characters.
Bates’s seizures started out as absence seizures also known as petit mal seizures. His pediatric stroke left him with weakness in the left side of his body. These petit mal seizures progressed to simple and partial complex seizures. His seizures are caused by the stroke damage to the Insular Region of the brain, a part of the brain that you wouldn’t be able to find in many anatomy books. Getting seizures from this part of the brain is extremely rare. He is going to a consultation for brain surgery soon. Bates experiences 8 types of seizures. Some include grand mal which he described as “movie seizures” where he crashes on the ground while his muscles spasm erratically. Some seizures that he gets are cluster seizures, while some are a combination of seizures, for example hand numbness and vision loss. Another kind of seizure Bates experiences is a partial complex psychic seizure where he feels as if he is in a YouTube video that is speeded up. His seizures are triggered by noises, environment, temperature change, not taking his pills, and stress of activities. Due to these triggers, precautionary measures are taken. Bates adapts his everyday life to accommodate for his condition. He is mostly home-bound, but went to Rock Canyon High School one half day a week last year. Bates also has a Seizure Action Plan that consists of tiered levels of red, orange, yellow, and green according to the severity of the seizure.
Bates also comes up with solutions to help with other everyday aspects in his life. Bates innovatively came up with a “MacGyver” invention to assist with the left part of his body’s weakness, also known as hemiplegia. He screwed a nail clipper into a block of wood so that he could press down on the nail clipper to make it work instead of squeezing it because of his left hand’s weakness. Since Bates uses 1 ½ times as much energy as people without hemiplegia and epilepsy, he is constantly tired and his brother, Cole Bates commented,”I want to play with my brother, but he’s always tired.”
There are numerous support groups from The Children’s Hospital for kids with seizures and they are brought to participate in activities such as rock climbing and snowboarding. These support groups helped Bates discover his passion for snowboarding as it is presently one of his main hobbies along with online gaming. (Bates has even figured out a way to use an XBox controller one-handed!) Parents of children with seizures, have support groups too. Bates’ mother, Amanda Bates currently takes part in an online support group through FaceBook.
Helping someone out who has seizures isn’t a matter of treating them as if they are low functioning and need words to be pronounced phonetically (as Bates has experienced multiple times and isn’t too fond of). It is a matter of when they do have a seizure, stay calm and give them a safe space to be until the seizure is over. If someone is having a grand mal seizure, call an ambulance.
During these situations in life, true colors shine through and Bates has vibrant, effervescent, vigorous, and positive colors brimming with inner strength that inspire others to be strong, just like him. Bates keeps such a great attitude through the bullying he endures, tough medical experiences, and being called “seizure boy” by persevering and finding his way through humor, positivity, and acting years beyond his age developing his large attribute of maturity. His words of inspiration for kids with seizures are,”You will be sent everywhere to tons of doctors and appointments, but you will eventually find what works for you.” Bates demonstrates daily that attitude is everything and a positive outlook on life is essential.