When Addie L’Heureux crossed the finish line of her first cross country race recently it marked a major milestone for the nine-year-old and her family.
Addie has epilepsy. The petite fourth-grader from King George VI public school has suffered as many as 30 seizures a day and was a regular visitor to the hospital ER.
“Addie had a collection of stuffed animals and that’s how we used to keep track, because every time EMS would come they would give her another stuffed animal,” said Addie’s mom, Brianne L’Heureux.
“At one point we were sitting on 15 or 16 stuffed animals.”
Addie was just an infant when the seizures began and doctors initially thought they were triggered by fevers and flu.
“I don’t know how many times we sat in the hospital with that,” recalled her mom. “It was just constant misdiagnosis.”
A pediatrician from London was the first to suggest epilepsy, which testing confirmed. But the family wasn’t out of the woods just yet. Finding the right medication has been nearly as challenging.
“They were working to a point, until she outgrew them,” said Brianne L’Heureux. “We’ve exhausted most medications at this point with her.”
But sometime over the past two years Addie’s condition began to stabilize. The mixture of medications seems to be working and Addie has begun living a normal life again.
“The reality is that she was excluded a lot from things because of her epilepsy,” said Brianne L’Heureux.
After taking a shine to running at the Terry Fox Run in September, Addie’s teacher recruited her to the cross country team. She’s been running ever since.
Mary Miller, Addie’s grandmother, attended her first real race in Petrolia and photographed the moment she finished the two-kilometre race.
Addie came in first place for her school in her age group.
“When she rounded that corner I thought, ‘God, I can’t believe that’s her,’” a teary-eyed Miller said.