Living With Epilepsy - Push Your Boundaries, Follow Your Dreams
Electrical Imbalance in The Brain
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.
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Epilepsy Ireland (formerly Brainwave) is the national organisation supporting and representing people with epilepsy and their families
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
Epilepsy Info ~
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
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
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
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