By Lauren Fruen
A TEENAGE girl has been dubbed the real life sleeping beauty after spending 20 HOURS a day asleep.
Emily Rowland suffers from severe epilepsy which causes her to have “staring spells” and fall into a deep sleep for days on end.
It means the teen was forced to give up school two and a half years ago and she can no longer compete in pageants.
Emily has been hospitalized hundreds of times and has not slept alone for the past eight years.
Her mum Brandi is now her full time carer and said it is “difficult to put into words” how scary living with the condition is for her daughter.
The 16-year-old, who lives with her family in Warner Robins, Georgia, began complaining of headaches from a young age.
After being finally diagnosed with epilepsy almost eight years ago she now also has a form of dementia as a result of the constant seizing.
Mum Brandi, 42, said the condition has meant Emily lost friends – but that she did enjoy prom with her boyfriend IV Hickam, 17.
IV evens calls his girlfriend “sleeping beauty”.
Emily said: “It makes everyday activities so hard. Just trying to get makeup on is tricky – things that other teenage girls do every day with ease.
“My mum has to do it because I can’t stay awake to. I don’t have the coordination to do it due to the seizing either.
“The condition also makes getting dressed difficult. There is video of me literally falling asleep standing up trying to get ready in the morning.
“It happens in restaurants when I am out with my boyfriend or family. It happened at school. My mum has footage of me holding my school books as I struggled to stay awake heading out to class.
“No place is worse than others for me really.
“The fact that my whole life, every aspect of it, has been disrupted and my ability to go to school and learn and be an active teenager has been taken away is most upsetting.
“The hardest part is watching the life I had planned slip away.
“But I will never give up.
“I find comfort in listening to music, particularly Shawn Mendes as well as the Zach Williams band.”
Mum-of-five Brandi said: “Emily was a fast learner and high achiever.
“She started school a year early and was doing incredible well. So we had no idea that something terrible was going on with her brain.
“When Emily was younger she started to complain of really bad headaches.
“She started to get really sleepy. Emily had always suffered on road trips but we thought it was normal car sickness.
“It was only with hindsight that we now recognise that these things were all connected.
“Emily began missing more school. Somedays we could just not wake her.
“Tests confirmed that Emily had epilepsy.
“It is hard to put into words how scary it is.
“She misses out on activities because she is ‘asleep’ normally more than 20 hours a day.
“She can sleep for days and will need to be put onto a drip as she is not getting the food and water she needs.
“Her boyfriend calls her his Sleeping Beauty and he invited her to his school prom.
“When she is awake, she puts her best foot forward despite how sick she is and always puts others before herself.”
What is Emily’s condition?
Emily was diagnosed with generalized non-convulsive epilepsy with intractable epilepsy.
It means she suffers from extreme lethargy, headaches, vomiting and dizziness.
She has ‘staring spells,’ for days and goes into deep sleeps.
That means she cannot eat or drink, nor take her medicines by mouth.
Emily’s brain misfires more than 80 per cent of her life, even during sleep.
To help Emily’s family with her medical costs visit https://www.gofundme.com/4keyraw.