Through her captivating memoir, “Living in a Brainstorm,” Erica Egge Hageman ’07 shares her courageous journey to undergo two back-to-back brain surgeries.
Hageman lived with simple partial epileptic seizures and their draining side effects for 18 years when she decided to take action. She comments on the support she received along the way.
“Learning how positive and helpful people were when I told them about my epilepsy, especially when I was having a hard time with it, taught me that advocating for myself is important and will most often be well-received,” Hageman says.
She also explains that the Colorado College community was particularly supportive.
“There were a lot of times I struggled with my seizures and, even more, with side effects from my medication while at CC. The people around me made all the difference,” Hageman says. “My friends were always supportive and truly wanted to learn more about my epilepsy and how to help me.”
During her journey for treatment, doctors discovered they wouldn’t be able to determine if they could remove the area of her brain triggering the seizures until after the first surgery. If they determined it was operable, there were still significant risks for sensory loss in one hand and her face. The doctors ultimately determined to operate and remove this section of her brain.
Hageman did have to focus on recovery after the operation. “It took many months of physical therapy – particularly typing and knitting – to get my hand function back to normal but fortunately I didn’t have any long-term sensory or motor loss,” she says.
She allowed herself to be vulnerable throughout this journey and communicated via a blog to her friends, family, and eventually other supportive followers.
“Being open and honest about my epilepsy made life much easier than if I had tried to hide it and deal with my health issues on my own,” she says.
In her memoir, Hageman guides readers from her surgery planning through her recovery, with insightful flashbacks to her childhood, when she learned how to live with her diagnosis.
“At CC, I learned the value of being myself, not who I think other people or situations require me to be. Being yourself is so important because it is exhausting to pretend to be someone else and other people will see right through it. We each have something unique to contribute to this world.”
Hageman remains involved with Colorado College. She recently hosted CC students at Target during our Tiger Trek in Minneapolis, where she currently works as a senior merchandise specialist. She reflected on the uniqueness of the rigorous Block Plan and on the benefits a liberal arts education brought her. She shared her insight on the transferability of the skills she learned at CC, including: problem solving efficiently, adapting well to new projects, and possessing an eagerness to learn.
Three months after her second surgery, she started dating her future husband. They have two children.
“My passion these days is spending time with them and soaking up as much of this time in our lives as I can because I know it’s fleeting,” she says.