An Arvada mother whose baby was rescued by a convenience store clerk before she collapsed onto the floor, is speaking exclusively to Denver7 in hopes of raising awareness of a chronic disorder that affects millions of Americans each year -- and about the dangers the condition can bring for whose who suffer from it.
Jessica Heinonen, who has a bruise on the left side of her forehead, said the last thing she remembered was holding her daughter at the cashier of the Farm Crest Milk Stores in Arvada before hitting the ground last Sunday.
But her collapse wasn't something she hadn't experienced before.
Heinonen was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 9 and tells Denver7's Sally Mamdooh she suffered from a seizure inside the gas station as she was buying a soft drink.
"That's kind of what scares you the most, is the fact is that you can't do anything about it," she said.
Heinonen is among the 3 million Americans who are living with epilepsy, a neurological disease that cannot be cured and which poses a higher risk of death for those who suffer from it.
The young mom said she never felt the seizure coming. "I usually have warnings before; [I feel] lightheaded, dizzy."
Luckily for her, Rebecca Montano, who was working the cashier that day noticed something wasn't right and quickly grabbed Heinonen's daughter, saving the child from harm.
"I have never seen myself have one," said Heinonen, after watching the surveillance footage from inside the store. She added the video evidence has helped her understand what happens before she blacks out.
Heinonen said that, like many living with the same condition, she can't drive and has to always have someone around, especially when she is with her daughter -- something she wishes she could change.
"It's sad not to be able to spend time with my daughter too much whenever I want alone time, and have mommy and daughter time," she said.
The Epilepsy Foundation in Colorado said Heinonen is among the 500,000 people in the state living with the condition.
It is estimated that 65 million people worldwide have epilepsy.