Dedicated to Merle Evanchyk, A Mother Who Gave Birth to A Movement

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Education, Epilepsy |

Merle Evanchyk has never carried a child in her womb, felt a labor pain or nursed a newborn. Yet she is every bit a mother. And not just because she has raised children – although she has done that. She also raised a grandchild. But 71-year-old Evanchyk is more widely appreciated on this day for giving birth to a multimillion-dollar, multidimensional baby – Florida’s epilepsy-support movement. This helping network lobbies for people with epilepsy and provides a multitude of services, from medical screening to job assistance to educating the public about the disorder. It all began simply as some desperate parents crowded around Evanchyk’s kitchen table in her Orlando home, seeking answers to a bunch of mysterious symptoms that threatened their children. ”There are a lot of mothers, and fathers too, who owe an awful lot to Merle Evanchyk,” said Charles Gray, an Orlando lawyer whose daughter has epilepsy. ”If ever there was a local Mother Teresa, she would be it.” Evanchyk – a gray-haired woman who favors polyester prints and pearls, giggles a lot and swims in her spare time – didn’t set out to be dubbed the ”Mother of Florida’s Epilepsy Movement.” She just wanted to be a mother. But even that came unexpectedly. In 1947 she and husband Charles ”Chick” Evanchyk were living in Cincinnati when they got a call from a local orphanage where Merle was a volunteer. The orphanage had two babies – a 17-month-old boy and his 4-month-old sister – whose parents had abandoned them. The boy was extremely upset. Could the couple take the little ones home temporarily? ”But the minute you held them, you knew they were yours forever,” said Evanchyk. The couple adopted the babies and named them Larry and Linda. It wasn’t long before Evanchyk noticed something unsettling about her daughter. As a baby, Linda would sometimes stiffen in her mother’s arms. When she was older, she would run in from playing, plop on the couch, stick her thumb in her mouth, stare ahead and rock back and forth, oblivious. At school, teachers sent home notes: ”Linda’s disruptive. She misbehaves.” Doctors would say, ”Oh, kids do these kind of things.” Some recommended a psychiatrist. Then, in 1960, Evanchyk awoke in the middle of the night to hear moaning and a loud thud. She ran into 13-year-old Linda’s room and found her on the floor, one side drawn up like a marionette’s. She was having a grand mal seizure. It took six months and six more grand mal seizures – one of at least 20 known types of epileptic seizures, characterized by loss of consciousness, stiffening of the body, violent jerking of limbs and irregular breathing – before Linda was diagnosed...

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EpilepsyU – Epilepsy Education and Social Networking

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Education, Epilepsy |

EpilepsyU is a totally FREE one of a kind social network and learning tool for epilepsy developed by the Epilepsy Association of Central Florida in 2009. It is constantly revised with and new features are added frequently. The site is socially integrated with Facebook Connect, Instagram and Twitter feed import, Pinterest integration, bringing the power of social media all together in one secure, and brilliant site dedicated to epilepsy. The services of EpilepsyU include A comprehensive educational resource guide with links to resources courses, quizzes, and off-site hosted materials that enrich the understanding of epilepsy for patients, teachers and school nurses, parents, kids, teens and everyone affected or interested in epilepsy Live and archived Webinars hosted by neurologists, dietitians, pediatricians and epileptologists covering a range of topics related to epilepsy. A Community Social Network feature that includes familiar, powerful social networking tools like Groups, Friendships, Blogs, and a Social media News Feed that keeps all of the recent articles and activity organized in one stream.  We invite all other non-profits in the field of epilepsy to create their own groups, please contact support@epilepsyu.com for help! HIPPA Training for the State of Florida Epilepsy Services Programs. As a scholar, we would like to invite you to contribute to EpilepsyU.com. Please contact support@EpilepsyU.com if you are interested in contributing articles or blogs or becoming a social media ambassador. We hope that this opportunity will help build your experience...

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