“Seizures ripped through my world when I was 18, in my first month of college. From doctor to doctor, I was first misdiagnosed with epilepsy. I was diagnosed with PNES 8 months later. The seizures were off and on for 8 years. I had up to 15 a week, lasting anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes each. That wasn’t even the full extent- the seizures were accompanied by paralysis, loss of speech, blurred vision, back spasms, and cloudy thinking. Going to work became torture. Driving was out of the picture. I avoided friends and family, because I didn’t know when I would cry, scream, or fall into an episode.
When the seizures returned in 2015, I was beyond distraught. I was desperate to work with someone who had even heard of PNES. Finding someone who knew how to treat it didn’t even cross my mind until I found Afra. I remember walking into her office on the first day- I had had a seizure on the plane that morning, and another was starting when our session began. We spent the next 90 minutes making sure that didn’t happen….I never had another seizure again after that first day. I’ll never forget what she said to me. “You never have to have another seizure again.”
Dr Moenter taught me to calm my physical self, be compassionate to myself, and not suppress my emotions. We did meditations. She taught my me about why they were happening. She empowered me to be happy. Truly happy.
Working with Dr. Moenter was a great experience. Not only did she share her knowledge of PNES with me very patiently as I asked over and over, but she was so compassionate. When I had angry days, she would stay firm but could always see my pain lurking under the anger. She makes herself available to her patients. I wasn’t just a number to her- I was a hurting person whom she truly sought out to help. I always felt that she had my best interests at her heart- how much she cared was so obvious in every interaction. For someone as lost and as in pain as I was, how Dr. Moenter developed her relationship with me is likely a good chunk of why I even ever decided to start listening to her sage advice.
I now live a seizure free life. I changed careers for a job better suited to my newly discovered self and LOVE going to work. I’m no longer afraid to drive. Not only have I reconnected with old friends, but made new ones. (And managing relationships isn’t an exhausting chore anymore!) While I still have the occasional bad day of anxiety or low-level activity, I feel lighter, happier, and more myself than I have in well over a decade. It feels like a miracle to love myself and my life again. This program changes lives.”
“I had my first seizure in September of 2015 and was fortunate enough to get diagnosed in November of the same year. The diagnosis and explanation of it was about the shortest you could ask for. The doctor walked into the room and told me I had “pseudo seizures”, explained that they were most likely stress induced and told me he would send a psychologist in. This exchange was done in no more than two minutes. After the diagnosis, the seizures would continue to invade my life for the next two years. It left me unable to hold a job, I could no longer drive, social obligations were difficult to keep, and it strained my marriage.
My seizures varied a bit in how they would present themselves. Typically, I would lose the ability to walk, talk, see, and most other movements as well. They almost always showed up in clusters, it was never just one seizure and I was done. I could have a set of three, which was common, or I could have up to 16 in a week. They could last anywhere from 25 minutes to 5 and a half hours per seizure. I was never injured from them, but the level of exhaustion and pain that your body is in afterwards lasts for days.
After a couple unsuccessful years of different doctors, therapists, medications and treatments I finally came across Dr. Moenter online and decided to contact her. I was so impressed with the fact that she scheduled a time to call me simply to answer questions about her work and what I could expect. From then we began doing weekly Skype sessions. From my very first Skype session with Dr. Moenter, I already knew that I was committed to working with her and working towards seeing her in Colorado for treatment in person.
She is not only highly educated and extremely intuitive but she also has a very clear understanding of PNES. After the first session with Dr. Moenter in person, I knew I was in the right hands and I knew progress was going to be made. No matter how little or how much progress was made, it was going to be worth it. She taught me how to breath to calm myself. She showed me how to pay attention to my body so I could feel the precursors to a seizure before it ever started. For the first time in 2 years, I feel like I can really start preparing for my future without worrying that I will never be able to do the things I want to do most. My last seizure was on September 4th, my first session with Dr. Moenter was September 6th, and I am happy beyond words to say that I haven’t had a single seizure since!!
As of today, I am 4 months seizure free! Not only that but I am off of my medications, I am driving again, waking up without worrying if I will have a seizure, and making plans with friends and family again. I am learning to understand and be true to myself, to be comfortable with emotions, and to stop holding myself back. My day to day anxiety has been so much more manageable with the tools that Dr. Moenter has given me to work with as well. One thing that I love about working with Dr. Moenter is how open and available she makes herself to you. She is genuinely concerned about her patients and truly improving their quality of life. She is fully present in your sessions and focused on nothing but you and doing everything she can to teach you the skills you need to live a seizure-free life. I have even had times come up early on working with Dr. Moenter, where I was panicking about a job I had and she worked with me to remain calm via text and I made it through just fine. I thought that if it was even possible it would take me years to get my life back and my seizures under control. With Dr. Moenter it was a matter of weeks and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Des Moines, Iowa
“I lived a life with minimal health issues until I had a seizure at work one afternoon. I didn’t know it was a seizure until I headed to the emergency room that evening. After traumatic diagnosis of brain tumors, quick surgery a grand mal seizure immediately after surgery and one a few months later, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I had many seizures that seemed to hold me prisoner. I couldn’t sleep, they happened at work making me feel self-conscience and often caused me to be unable to drive. I entered Epilepsy monitoring units, did at home EEG sleep studies, but still, a diagnosis of epilepsy could no longer be confirmed due to the volume and types of seizures I was having. Finally, I was diagnosed with PNES. This diagnosis caused a great deal of concern and after doing research on the internet, I was very uncomfortable with how I was being viewed.
I was very hesitant to see a therapist as, for me, I was brought up as thinking seeking this type of help is a sign of weakness. As well, will all I had read regarding PNES, I had begun to think I was the cause of my seizures and if I caused them, maybe I could just fix things myself. I realized this was bigger than anything I had taken on before and I needed help. My first visit, I was very uncomfortable but Dr. Moenter learned where my comfort level was and found ways to earn my trust. In my first month, I learned how to be comfortable within myself and realize it was possible not to blame myself for the situation I was in. One of the key techniques I learned is how to feel when a seizure is coming and how to counter the feeling with relaxation. This has helped with seizures that occur when I am awake and also ones that occur when sleeping.
Today, although I cannot say I am seizure free, I used to average 30 – 40 seizures a month, I now have 3 or 4 seizures in 6 months. It is such a welcome improvement and I am very grateful. I have started a new job and have not been on driving restrictions for at least 6 months. Although I still have the worry of when a seizure may occur, it is not with the same frequency that I feared before and that has helped me live a much more productive life.
Dr. Moenter is a very caring and compassionate individual. She took time to understand my needs and gently pushed/guided me along paths I needed to travel to gain a deeper knowledge of my new life. Dr. Moenter has a keen intuition into a person’s inner being, able to key in on the slightest physical changes as we talk to note when something is happening within me. I have appreciated experiencing a personal aspect to our relationship while understanding there is a professional standard that must be maintained. This has helped to build my trust along the way which is difficult for me based on my background.”
“After a traumatic brain injury I started having seizures. Once the grand mal seizures stopped, due to medication, I was continuing to have activity I couldn’t explain. My symptoms terrified me by taking my breath away in gasps, feeling a bone crushing sensation, and making me feel like I was shaking when I wasn’t. I stopped driving for over a year and found it very hard to be social, because I didn’t want to describe to others what I was going through. I went over a year, having these attacks at minimum five times a day, before being diagnosed with PNES.
The same day I was informed of PNES was when I learned about Dr. Moenter’s service. The first session we had together I spent the whole time crying, because in my time being diagnosed I had never met someone who could relate when I described my body aches, but also said I could live a full life with it. She said I would drive again, and I am now. She taught me how to listen to my body to keep my activity at bay. I learned how often my body was responding to things I wasn’t addressing in my personal life.
Today I am over a year seizure free. Although I still have some symptoms of PNES, I can mitigate them and predict their arrival, because I’ve learned my triggers. I can drive, which I thought was an unattainable goal when I started therapy a year ago. I also now have the tools to explain my activity to others, and be at peace with the boundaries I’ve set to maintain my body’s ease. Something I didn’t realize would be a part of the healing process, that was greatly aided by Dr. Moenter, was recognizing the role of self love. To consider epilepsy as a separate part of myself, a part that I could hate, wasn’t conducive to moving forward. I had to learn to love it as a part of me, and respect it like any other part of me.
Dr. Moenter has provided me with good emotional education, and has shown how that applies to seizure triggers. I feel comfortable talking about personal issues that don’t just involve seizure activity. She impacted my life way more than I ever expected when we started working together. I would certainly not be where I am today if it wasn’t for her.”
“Before I met Dr. Moenter, I had seizures multiple times a day for six months. I don’t remember those months very well, but what I do remember is being worried and embarrassed. I couldn’t go to class alone; my aunts and uncles were nervous to leave me alone with their kids. Everyone was looking at me like I was going to break all the time. My boyfriend wouldn’t even leave me alone in the shower (for good reason); my life was melting away. I didn’t understand why my body was doing this.
I knew from a Neurologist I saw in the ER they weren’t normal seizures. They weren’t seen on an EEG, so I couldn’t understand how they were real. I couldn’t see how it was ever going to get better, if they aren’t “normal seizures” and I can’t get medication, how can I get better? It was my second year in college and I hadn’t fully finished a semester yet due to stress, and now, I didn’t believe I was ever going got be able to.
Once I met Dr. Moenter she explained to me what they were. What I remember from our first meeting is her getting in my bubble of personal space. I was about to have a seizure and she distracted me so I didn’t. That moment I realized that these were something I was actually going to fix. It didn’t take too long for the seizures to start to diminish.
I meet with her now at least once a week. I finally made it through a semester of college. I realized they stemmed from something deeper, and she has been helping me work through things I have been hanging on to a long time. It has been a few months now since the last time I have had a seizure, and I have noticed more and more changes every day.
Dr. Moenter is easy to talk to. She has a way of calming me down, and stop these long stories of “what ifs” that play in my head. She makes me laugh, and helps me see things for what they are. I have a hard time pulling real issues away from small problems. Dr. Moenter has a way to communicate these things with me. She knows when to tell me things straight up, or quiet my thoughts till I get there.”