AUSTIN — Alexis Bortell will tell you she’s a pretty normal kid.
The 9-year old from Rowlett enjoys cartoons, playing with her younger sister and playing golf. Yet in addition to the usual concerns of a kid her age, she’s also fighting a life and death battle against epilepsy.
Alexis’ father Dean Bortell, a U.S. Navy veteran, says Alexis’ first seizure happened at their Rowlett, Texas home in July 2013.
“We were folding clothes and all of a sudden I hear my wife scream,” said Dean. “I look over and Alexis has literally gone vertical. She’s stiff as a board and mom’s holding her. We get her down on the couch and she’s shaking.”
The Bortells rushed to a nearby hospital, and doctors eventually diagnosed Alexis with epilepsy. Dean says the prescribed medication Carbatrol was “like throwing gasoline on a fire.”
“It was terrible. Her seizures went from mainly at night to around the clock,” said Bortell. Even more frustrating, Bortell says the next drug Depakote gave Alexis tremors, spasms, and altered her personality — and the seizures still came. Alexis describes the episodes as “very scary.”
“I kinda black out, and sometimes I start chomping and shaking,” she said.
When the pharmaceutical complications resulted in doctors finally ordering the medications tapered off, Dean viewed the decision as an admission of failure. The Bortells now rely solely on a supply of rescue medication, and Dean worries whether it will be enough to save his daughter if her condition suddenly worsens.