Megan West runs her painted fingernails through her brown hair filled with blonde highlights. Wearing a large pair of chandelier-type earrings, she smiles when she looks down at her grey bracelet displaying three small picture frames filled with photos of her son.
"This was not me a year ago," says West — formerly Megan Adams — as she runs a pointer finger across the bottom of her right eye. "One year ago, I couldn't make eye contact. I was embarrassed. I had low self-esteem."
But that was one year ago.
Nowadays, West says that she's living the life she has always wanted — a life devoid of epileptic seizures from which she suffered since she was 8 years old. Seizures that, at one point, numbered as many as 15 per day.
On August 16, 2010, West underwent brain surgery at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown to cure the petit mal seizures that caused her to fall down, stare into space and hit objects around her.
Due to their common recurrence, she wanted to wait until the seizures went away before tying the knot to her decade-long boyfriend. Last summer's surgery was a success, which allowed West to celebrate Memorial Day this year by marrying Stewart West. She stood aboard the Gateway Clipper in Pittsburgh seizure-free, and she celebrates her recovery every day.
The 26-year-old Johnstown resident and 2003 Westmont Hilltop High School graduate says that she wants to share her story, and it is a story that causes her to cry a little and smile a lot.
She recalls the times in school when her seizures began to have their educational and extracurricular repercussions.
"It was pretty hard because I'd be hitting the desk and teachers thought I was making fun of them. I played soccer and basketball in middle school and after I had a seizure, the coaches would pull me out and I wouldn't play again," she says.
Despite not having any friends or family members diagnosed with epilepsy, West retained a positive attitude throughout her school years. For her senior superlatives in high school, she was voted "Class Clown."
Following graduation, she attended the Pittsburgh Culinary Institute, where she had to re-take a semester as a result of the seizures that forced her out of the classroom and into the hospital. In 2006, she earned her degree in pastry arts.
She worked in Pittsburgh, then moved to Philadelphia shortly thereafter in order to gain more work experience in the food industry.
"Every job I ever had was in a kitchen," she says, navigating through her cell phone to find photographs of her pastry work.
She soon moved back to Johnstown with the hopes of opening her own bakery.
Since then, the stay-at-home mom has been operating a bakery out of her home called Nutmegz. She aspires to open Nutmegz in Westmont or Johnstown within the next year. She specializes in creating fondant cupcakes and cookies.
"It's my dream," she says. "It's been my dream since I was a little girl."
That little girl never lost sight of her dream, despite the countless ambulance rides, hospital stays and lost privileges, including a three year license revocation.
"I had to depend on everyone else to take me and my son everywhere. That's the main thing. Now I don't have to anymore," she says.
Her son, Reece, 2, was born on her birthday despite the pregnancy being classified as high-risk. She was told that her son could be born with a physical deformity, mental retardation or other health problems.
Westmont graduate marks recovery with wedding
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