Crystal Armstrong is earning a degree so she can teach others about epilepsy.

Crystal Armstrong is earning a degree so she can teach others about epilepsy.

The American Epilepsy Foundation awarded her with a $5,000 scholarship in early December for her work in helping others understand epilepsy.

She's discovered that going to college full-time and raising three young children isn't easy.

"It's challenging," Armstrong said. "It places a host of challenges on me."

She said she should be finished with her degree in about a year and a half.

"I want to be able to work in an epilepsy monitoring unit," she said.

Before that can happen, the Armstrongs are going to have fun, she said.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Central Ohio will hold the Stroll for Epilepsy from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Polaris Fashion Place.

Armstrong said her family has participated the last three years.

"My kids had a ball last year," she added.

Armstrong's connection with epilepsy drove her to the goal of becoming a registered dietetic technician.

Almost three years ago, her son Taylor, then 3 years old, nearly died in Armstrong's front yard after having a seizure.

From that point, Armstrong did everything she could to understand epilepsy, said Carol Johnson, social worker and program director for the Epilepsy Foundation of Central Ohio.

"It was very important to her to get as much information as possible," Johnson said. "It was indicative of her optimism. She has this spirit of, 'We will overcome.' "

Armstrong said Taylor would have up to 80 seizures a day. He was diagnosed with seizure disorders. Doctors tried several pharmaceutical treatments, and eventually recommended a treatment through a strict diet of fats called the ketogenic diet.

"Epilepsy in childhood can be a devastating disorder," Johnson said.

Armstrong said she and her husband, Rodney, were afraid they could not maintain the rigors of such a strict diet. They eventually found a modified diet similar to the low-carb Atkins diet.

"I was making everything from scratch, everything down to his ketchup," Armstrong said. "We immediately saw a rapid decrease in the amount and severity of seizures."

Soon Taylor and the rest of the Armstrongs became used to the new diet and Taylor had his last seizure Dec. 16, 2006.

"When all these things started, we got involved with the Epilepsy Foundation," Armstrong said. "They held our hands through this."

Now Armstrong is holding the hands of other parents as they struggle with epilepsy. She is pursuing an associate degree as a dietetic technician at Columbus State Community College. She said she is a mentor with the HOPE (Helping Other People with Epilepsy) foundation.

"We're there for the other parents to help," Armstrong said. "We've just tried to get the story out to as many people as we can."

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