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"People assume that those with epilepsy need to be in a wheelchair or are devastated neurologically. Anup Patel, a pediatric epilepsy specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. After experiencing a seizure at the end of a game in 2012, he received an anonymous email saying, "We've got a freak coaching the Minnesota Gophers." If he received such hate, he wondered, what was it like for a kid on the playground or regular folks hard at work? Kill had suffered a seizure during the fourth game of the season. The seizure, wrote columnist Jim Souhan, made the football program and the university "the subject of pity and ridicule." Never mind the Gophers won the game. Long ago, she learned that reading the sports pages or listening to talk radio did little to calm the nerves of a coach's wife.

"We must recognize the vast majority of people with epilepsy can and will live normal lives." What makes Coach Kill so refreshing, Patel says, is that not enough people with epilepsy — especially those at the top of their professions — speak up about it. Children with the disorder fear losing their friends. But this time, she was curious to see what was being said. As she scrolled through the column, she says, her husband had another seizure.

It's been like that for the past three years, when his seizures began innocently enough.

More than 3 million Americans, including 450,000 children, suffer from epilepsy, defined by the Epilepsy Foundation as a disorder in which a person has two or more seizures "not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar." About 50,000 people with epilepsy — 1 in 60 — die from a seizure or seizure-related accident each year.

Death can come from drowning, choking and suffocation during sleep.

We've taken several vacations in recent years: a train trip to New Orleans, a swamp boat outing in Florida, a kayak adventure in Connecticut.

He doesn't remember any of those trips because seizures along the way wiped his memory.

There are days when I grow angry and frustrated because nothing seems to help my son. Someone who should be fired, as one local columnist wrote, because Golden Gopher fans don't pay money to be "rewarded with the sight of a middle-aged man writhing on the ground." He's heard it all. Sometimes, he'll look up like a boxer down for the count and mutter, "I hate seizures" or "Seizures suck." Other times, he cries. When he seizes up, a part of my soul goes with him.

I want to ask the coach how he handles his seizures, what advice he has for families like mine. He's found motivation, not in his own battle, but from children with epilepsy who flock to him. "When you make fun of me," he says, "you're mocking my people! Later in the evening, as the coach winds down in Chicago, my 10-year-old son, Billy, steps onto our front porch in Atlanta to take our dog for a walk. After about a minute, Billy takes a deep, long breath. This time, he's too out of it to say or do anything. More than 500 times, my soul has been chipped away.Kill was home from the hospital, and things seemed better. When he came to, she decided not to tell him about what was written.It was too hurtful and would be too much of a distraction.In late 2011, the author took his son, Billy, for surgical evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic, where he got a surprise visit from members of the Cleveland Cavaliers.Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer/Landov In hopes of a breakthrough, I took Billy to be evaluated for brain surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.I especially want to know what compels this man to be so open about his epilepsy in a game overflowing with machismo when so many ordinary people hide from the disorder. He was thrust into action when scorn, hatred and ignorance were hurled his way. A fear flashes over his face, and he falls to his knees. His right arm stiffens; his fist clenches; his eyelids flutter. oach Kill's first seizure was in bed in 2000; the next one, in 2005, saved his life.

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