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Published November 18, 2014
Volume 22, Number 11



Eric’s Corner Offers Support for Epilepsy & Seizure Disorder

Eric's Corner

By Zoe Francis
NETWORK Writer

 

Life can seem lonely and isolating when you think you are the only person dealing with a chronic illness.
 
Eric’s Corner breaks through that gloom to offer support and education for people coping with epilepsy and seizure disorder.
 
“Loneliness and isolation are difficult,” Kim Zamrzla, support group co-founder, said. “Being alone and feeling like nobody else is going through the same thing as you is very difficult with any disorder. Coming together in a support group, you realize you’re not alone. There’s someone who understands what you’re going through. It can give you perspective and friendships.”
 
Eric’s Corner was founded after Pleasanton resident, Eric Nostrand, was diagnosed with epilepsy in late 2010. The father of two was at home with his young girls in late 2010 when he had his first epileptic seizure at the age of 48.

The owner of the Hopyard American Ale House and Grill relied on friends and family to transport him until his medications were adjusted properly and he was once again able to drive safely.

The experience compelled Nostrand to launch a monthly group, called Eric's Corner, to provide support and education for people with epilepsy and their caregivers. Zamrzla, whose 21-year-old daughter was diagnosed with seizure disorder at age 5, helped found the group and serves as facilitator.

Eric’s Corner was formally launched in the spring of 2011 with the backing of ValleyCare Health System, which provides the monthly meeting space.
“There were maybe six people at our first meeting,” Zamrzla recalled with a chuckle. “It was myself, my daughter, my husband, my mother, one other person and Eric. We now average 20 people or more each month. Amazingly, new people find out about us and come to the meetings. I (recently) got a phone call from a woman whose college-age son has epilepsy and needs support.”
 
While many meetings feature guest speakers on a variety of topics, others simply offer the chance for people to share their thoughts, get support and offer advice.
 
“You’re getting perspective from people who have lived through similar situations,” Zamrzla said. “You might be holding suggestions for somebody else. It feels really good to be helped, but it also feels good to help somebody else.”
 
The one thing the group does not offer is medical advice. The group will, however, provide information about the latest in medical breakthroughs, such as the Smart Monitor that helps detect seizures.
 
“We don’t promote any particular pharmaceutical,” she said. “We share information that we find helpful and let people have that knowledge so they can discuss that with their doctor to make the decision that’s best for them.”
 
Zamrzla tries to strike a good balance between offering medical and community resource information. Topics can be as basic as how to make homes safe for people who have seizures or how to advocate for yourself with the medical community.
 
“The topics are widespread,” she said. “If somebody brings up something they’re interested in, I’ll do research and find out about that and share it with everyone.”
 
“It gives you a place to go where you can say something you feel like you can’t say anywhere else,” she continued. “You can come in and say, ‘Hey, I had a really bad day.’ People aren’t necessarily going to try to solve your problem, but they’ll be there with you and help you through it.”
 
Eric’s Corner support group meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the ValleyCare health library, 5725 W. Las Positas Blvd. The Nov. 20 speaker will be Dr. Edie Zusman, a neurosurgeon with Sutter Health, who will discuss breakthroughs in surgery.
 
Learn more about the group at ericscorner.org.

 


 
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