Moving forward with epilepsy

    By Paddy

    Epilepsy is a relatively new condition in my life. In August 2019, one week before receiving my A-level results I had my first seizure, a tonic-clonic seizure. It was hoped this was an isolated incident and for the most part I was lucky as I wasn’t injured and my seizure was witnessed by my family. Asides from losing my driving license, I was able to move on from this event without much further thought about seizures.

    My A-level results came and I was thrilled to get into medical school, a long time dream of mine. This new adventure was to come to an abrupt halt one morning in October. I was getting ready for school and I had a large tonic-clonic seizure where I fell, broke 6 teeth, got a black eye and cut my face, requiring 12 stitches. I was taken to A&E by ambulance and then I had a second tonic-clonic seizure. I knew then that I had epilepsy.

    After a few days in hospital I was discharged. Then after reflecting with my family, I made a decision – I would take a a year out from my studies to adjust to this new condition. I wanted to find medications which controlled my seizures and to get the necessary dental work done after my fall. I am currently on Lamotrigine which I am glad to say works very well for me. I am very appreciative of my medical team for all their work and am delighted that I am feeling back to my normal self again. I now can’t wait to return to university!

    "I was getting ready for school and I had a large tonic-clonic seizure where I fell, broke 6 teeth, got a black eye and cut my face, requiring 12 stitches."

    I recognised that there was more to a diagnosis of epilepsy than the condition itself. I feel that for people with epilepsy it can often come with an emotional burden. For me, I found that making the decision to pause my education was very emotionally significant. It was initially very hard to process as I felt a sense of defeat. I now am certain that this was the right decision for me and I’m very grateful to my university for supporting me in taking this time out. In fact, I used the year to my advantage and undertook online qualifications in both anatomy and global health during the year. Both topics that will certainly be useful as I start my studies again.

    As a person with epilespy I now have a strong sense for raising epilepsy awareness. Maybe it’s because I knew very little about the condition before it affected me. In the first year of dealing with my diagnosis, I have tried to turn having epilepsy into something positive. By sharing my story and getting involved in societies and organisations I can help to spread awareness. This really has helped me to adjust to the condition.

    I hope that by having a more profound understanding of what it means to live with a condition like epilepsy, that it will help me to be emotionally aware in my future career at medical school and beyond. As I was told by a family friend, I now know that I have epilepsy and it doesn’t have me!

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