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Living With Epilepsy - Push Your Boundaries, Follow Your Dreams

Updated on October 26, 2014

Electrical Imbalance in The Brain

Epilepsy is not contagious, it is a condition that affects children and adults in different ways.
Epilepsy is not contagious, it is a condition that affects children and adults in different ways. | Source

What is Epilepsy?

As I opened my eyes, I saw Mum and Dad but where was I? This was not my bedroom and I felt strange.

I was in fact in The Adelaide Hospital, in Dublin and had been in a coma for a week.

I had been admitted in an ambulance a week earlier after having a reaction to a high temperature caused by catching Glandular Fever and Pneumonia.

I remained in hospital for a month whilst test upon test was done; it was a mystery as to what was wrong.

I had an enlarged spleen and I even remember being a test case for medical students.

Wheeled into a lecture theatre in a wheelchair, I was thrown question after question about my condition. Eventually “Grand Mal” Epilepsy, which is now known as Generalised Tonic Clonic Seizures, was diagnosed. I was 14 years old, confused and just wanted to get back to my life.

The last thing I had remembered was going to bed with a head cold and here I was with an illness that would require long term medication and would mean I would be leading a different life from that moment in time.

Epilepsy Ireland . . . Support And Guidance

I did not return to school immediately and was horrified when I was not permitted by doctors to play in my hockey team's cup final. Instead Mum brought me to the game and I was the most vocal supporter on the sideline!

I remember my Mum contacting Brainwave (now called Epilepsy Ireland) for information and meeting other parents whose stories inspired and helped her understand the condition, and the way forward for us as a family as I had two younger brother’s trying to understand also.


I was on heavy medication, twice a day and whilst my school and my friends where told I had Epilepsy, I did not want to be treated any different to the girl before Epilepsy. Having been brought up into a Sports mad family, I was fanatical about Sport and was determined that was not going to change.

Mum had even told me she had met another parent who was delighted to see a remarkable improvement in her very young son who had been taking 20+ seizures daily and thanks to playing Snooker, saw a drop to single figures daily. The concentration he used had definitely made a positive impact and it was inspiring!

Travel The World - Push Your Boundaries

follow your dreams whatever they may be. Epilepsy does not have to stop you.
follow your dreams whatever they may be. Epilepsy does not have to stop you. | Source

Where The Heart Is

I played Hockey, Tennis, Badminton, Cricket, Swimming and Table-Tennis all through School on teams, even playing Cricket for South Leinster and Leinster Schools. Through all my school days I would go for monthly blood tests to check my levels and get EEG tests done with a Neurologist, to monitor Brain Activity.

I was determined to follow my chosen career path as a Beauty Therapist, even though I was not permitted to do Electrolysis training, due to the use of electric currents. I also found that Epilepsy is contra indicated for a number of treatments and decided to do my thesis on the subject.

It was received well and a learning curve for myself and something I take pride in 28 years later!!

Know Your Triggers for a Seizure

travelling Italy - Sorrento was a place I always wanted to visit. knowing what triggers a seizure for me enabled me to stay seizure free during my trip.
travelling Italy - Sorrento was a place I always wanted to visit. knowing what triggers a seizure for me enabled me to stay seizure free during my trip. | Source
travelling Italy - Positano I drove a speedboat, another thing to tick off my to do list.
travelling Italy - Positano I drove a speedboat, another thing to tick off my to do list. | Source

Independent Streak

An Artistic and Creative path followed having inherited my Mum’s great love of Craft, Colour and Imagination and I was determined to work freelance as a Make-Up Artist, yes hours were irregular at times, yes it pushed boundaries but It was where one of my Passions lay.

Another one was travel and I decided I wanted to go to God’s own country at 22 on my own. My family were incredibly supportive and encouraged me to go to New Zealand.

I planned on going for a year so I looked at the medical side before leaving and how easy would it be for me to get my medication. Then I was off I alone on an adventure to the other side of the world.

This was 1984 and before I knew mobile phones and Internet. . .How did I cope!! But cope I did and had the most amazing, educational, inspiring time and still have many friends from NZ to this day.

I worked in Pharmacy and found at the ripe old age of 22 that I was “too experienced” for many jobs, including Gutheries pharmacy, who first turned me down, but thankfully they had second thoughts!!

After completing my year the bug was well and truly sown . . .travel was to be a big part of my life.

Living With Epilepsy - Family Support

me and my dad at our Cricket Club - Y.M.C.A. Having Epilepsy did not stop me playing sport.
me and my dad at our Cricket Club - Y.M.C.A. Having Epilepsy did not stop me playing sport. | Source
have wheels will travel - I now have my drivers licence something I never thought would happen.
have wheels will travel - I now have my drivers licence something I never thought would happen. | Source

The World Is Your Oyster

Two of my proudest achievements have been to represent Ireland in Cricket and in September 2010, I passed my driving test . . . . I had done lessons before over the years but I had to be 3 years free of seizures which I hadn't accomplished. Thanks to the law changing and my wonderfully patient partner, I am now a car owner and driver who takes the smallest pleasures in being able to drive to wherever I want!!


I wrote this article to help inspire others who may feel they cannot do certain things, that society says you shouldn't or can’t . . . . Yes there’s times when I was frustrated and frightened but now I have my wonderful partner who encourages me to push the boundaries and knock them down, along with my family and my next goal is to move abroad with him and start another chapter full of challenges!!.

My Supportive Partner

encouraging and supportive in whatever do.
encouraging and supportive in whatever do. | Source


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Living With Epilepsy - Push Your Boundaries, Follow Your Dreams Comments

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    • profile image

      mjkearn 5 years ago

      Hi SuzieHQ,

      Well done and thank you for sharing. I'm sure a lot of readers will get inspiration from your story.

    • mathair profile image

      mathair 4 years ago from Ireland

      Thank you SuzieHQ for sharing your story. It evoked some memories of my own childhood with epilepsy. Keep up the good work!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi mathair, thanks so much for reading my hub on Epilepsy, and for your comments.very much appreciated!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      Wow, this is very motivational and inspiring. My brother has suffered from epilepsy since the age of 8. I remember well his first Grand mal seizure. He's now been seizue free for several years, though. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and I look forward to more!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Thanks Vespawoolfe so much for your lovely comments and for taking the time to read my hub.I wrote it hoping i may show Epilepsy does not need to be a condition to be feared.Delighted to hear your brother has had seizure free years from Grand Mal, like myself and appreciate you sharing this with me.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      You are such an inspiration to those who may have epilepsy. I suppose there is a danger of children with this disease to be coddled. Sounds like you had a wonderful, positive upbringing. Good for you! I wish you much continued good health.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Appreciate that tammy!! Yes, I had great help from my parents, family and friends. I never thought i would drive and my partner was the driving force (excuse the pun!) in teaching me and instrumental in passing my driving test 2 yrs ago, so anything is possible!!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Welcome to Hub Pages Suzie HQ,

      I admire your determination to live a full and passionate life despite the challenges of achieving and maintaining good control of your seizures. This was indeed, a very inspiring hub especially as your family, and wonderful partner have been so supportive.

      I'm a retired nurse and once worked with the Epilepsy Foundation as a community educator. As a child, I also had a beloved teacher and family friend who had epilepsy. I think the best education for the general public, and also for those who are recently diagnosed is reading personal stories like this which show that it is possible to lead a full and passionate life despite having a history of seizures.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Wow,your comments are so very much appreciated. I have deep respect for the nursing profession, i had many dealings with nurses over the years and it takes a special person to be a nurse. I wrote this as a way to give back a little of how i dealt with challenges. If it helps others to try things or find ways round obstacles, then that's what it is all about. Many thanks again Happyboomernurse

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Trully Inspirational and glad you are able to drive on your own. Much success with us! Thanks for sharing!

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Way to go... What an inspirational story! Keeping pushing forward...

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Thank you lord de cross, this article is what got me started writing actually as I wanted to give something back, so to speak, relaying parts of my journey in life. It is the most personal article I have written to date so I thank you so much for reading and commenting. Driving has opened up a whole new world for me which I love and enjoy every day!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi barbergirl28, thanks very much for visiting and commenting, I appreciate you taking the time and your words of encouragement.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is the hub I was hoping you had written...such a wonderful story Suzie! bravo to you and your partner for knocking down those walls and attacking life.

      Quite the athlete you are....athletics were such a big part of my life...I so enjoy you. Where are you living now? I can't keep up with your travels?

      Great hub; I love a happy ending!

    • profile image

      KatrineDM 4 years ago

      What a great story, so inspiring and full of motivation. Yes it's important we have beliefs in ourselves, and to listen to our inner self. We can truly become anything we desire.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      What an inspirational story, Suzie! Not only for those who have physical obstacles to overcome, but for all who encounter obstacles throughout life. If you can overcome physical hindrances, those who have emotional hurdles should know all they have to do is believe. And jump!

      Awesome and voted up and then some!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Very heartening story. It goes to show you where there is a will there is a way. Great Hub and thanks for sharing. Voted UP.

    • profile image

      whowas 4 years ago

      Great story Suzie HQ and thanks for sharing it. I hope that it proves to be a real help and inspiration to others who have epilepsy. At least we have come a long way since the days of ignorance and superstition, when epilepsy was thought to be 'demon possession' and treated with terrifying exorcisms and beatings to drive out the devil! Thanks to modern medicine, proper research and people such as yourself sharing their own experiences, I hope that soon we can see an end to any remaining stigma and misunderstanding that is attached to epilepsy.

      Thanks again for a great hub.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi KatrineDM, Thank you so much for reading my hub and taking the time to comment, I appreciate it dearly! You are spot on, belief in ones'self is so important and I go on gut instinct or my 6th sense for so much guidance. If I can help or motivate one person through my writings then I have done a good thing that was worth conveying. Thanks again!:)

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi carol, thanks for your lovely comments and votes, it is so nice to receive! My family and partner have been such a support and inspiration through the years, all encouraging me even if they felt a bit hesitant or worried about me. For this I will always be thankful .

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi whowas, Love your comments and thanks so much for reading! I believe that things have changed greatly with regard to stigmas and misunderstandings, thankfully. I have experienced some issues when applying for jobs in the past but the only one I remember being a total no to was my working on cruise ships. Even my professional qualifications ( Beauty Therapist) were missing an entire course as it involved testing electric currents on yourself before using on clients (Electrolysis), obviously not appropriate for an Epileptic to do. It never really bothered me as I was passionate about Make-Up Artistry so diversified in that later on and love it!

    • Nyamache profile image

      Joshua Nyamache 4 years ago from Kenya

      This is an inspiring hub. It gives hope to those who are struggling with epilepsy. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Nyamache.

      Appreciate you taking the time to read and comment! There is always hope and if this story helps one person then I would be over the moon. Boundaries often are invisible but can be torn down. Thanks again and for sharing!!

    • SEO IT! profile image

      Karla Whitmore 3 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      I am fairly new to epilepsy -- at least the grand mal part. Since my first big seizure almost two years ago, I've learned some more and suspect I've had TLE for most, if not all of my life. I think that it is actually a good thing I did not know what was going on before -- it hasn't just been the tonic-clonics that have messed with my life. I fell into depression and anxiety and have only lately begun to realize that life isn't over because I have seizures. Thanks for your hub. It is very supportive of others who deal with this and reminds us that we do not have to let it cripple us. It is also a great read for those who don't know how to talk to, or relate with epileptics.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi SEO,

      I am so glad you found words of encouragement and inspiration in this. I have had highs and lows with Epilepsy but by far I have had wonderful times. My seizures are thankfully pretty much under control with medication twice daily which I am so grateful for. Many are far worse. 3 years ago I got my driving license for the first time, something I thought I may never get. So many take that for granted and for me having the courage to get behind a wheel safely was huge and still is. Never let others put you down and never be ashamed of Epilepsy, be strong and follow those dreams!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Suzie, I had no idea. You are an inspiration to all. You have accomplished so much! Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      I never saw this inspirational story before. Bill shared it on Facebook, and I was curious. I never knew you have struggled with this, but it seems like you have let your determination lead you into a fruitful life, despite the obstacles. Wow.

      Thanks for sharing this with us. It is so beautiful!

      ~ Kathryn

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Textbook knowledge is good but it can't hold a candle to hubs like this. So many will benefit from this Suzie and your wonderful, go getter attitude. You are amazing and I am so glad you and your partner have found each other as well. God bless, stay well, and follow your star.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Most interesting, and very brave of you to share.

      I don't know a lot about triggers, but I do know that flashing lights, like strobes, can be a problem for some, and also repetitive noises, like clicking sounds...drumming a pencil on the table, for instance.

      At least those are the kinds of triggers that will set off our cat who suffers from the condition. I wrote a hub about epilepsy from that perspective; of having to deal with our kitty. She seems to feel them coming on, and tries to run from it. It is heartbreaking to see her dashing madly about, paying no heed to where she is going, and crashing into things until the full-blown seizure overtakes her.

      I understand there are better medications now for people, and it sounds as if you have your life in balance and control. How wonderful for you to be able to travel the world.

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hi Suzie - I'm so glad you have shared your story of courage and inspiration. You are really my hero. Keep living your dream my friend. Blessings and good health to you! Audrey

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This is an incredible story and you turned it into an amazing hub. Thank for an ispiring story

    • profile image

      Leilani Allmon 2 years ago

      I also have epilepsy, but it's mild. Glad you've been doing so well for yourself.

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