Tag Archives: seizures

USA and the downward spiral

I was welcomed to America by brilliant sunshine, palm trees and the swamps of the Florida Everglades as we landed. When we got off the plane the Tarmac was hot to the feet and radiated up the body. It’s the first time I’d felt foreign sunshine.

The plane ride was surprisingly quick…. Fair enough I slept most of it all but the meal and half a inflight movie and a little sightseeing on the little screen and out the windows. I watched as we made our way down from 33 thousand feet and then waited to get off the plane. It was all push and shove an my muscles were aching… probably something to do with the seizure I had 2 hours into the journey. Anyway i was happy. I was in america ! 
When we got though the scary process of photographs and finger prints then getting our luggage we got a taxi to the pop centuary complex. It was basic in facilities but huge and it was Disney so even basic was 5 star to me! I was in my element of the wildest dreams i’d had yet I was tired. I longed for a sleep and then be ready for the next day… Gav had other plans. We went to the hotel to book in and dump our bags…. the bed looked so inviting yet we were out as quick as it took me to look around the one bedroom en-suite room.  Gav took me to the Magick kingdom… You see a ride he wanted to go on was going to be closing that night,, tonight was the only time to ride it while we were in America.
We got there and I was amazed at how big everything was compared to Disneyland Paris. Yet everything still the Disney way, perfection at every glance, not a blade of grass out of place. the music and happiness of everyone filled the air and a glance at the castle made my knees shake, i was here, i was in Disney i was happy!
We rushed to space mountain and Gavin stopped…. The ride looked dark and the adjoining gift shop looked quiet. the ride was shut. On talking to staff it had closed 3 days prior due to a technical fult that made it unsafe. With this news Gavin was not defeated and started leading me into rides. Reluctantly yet still happy and buzzing from being in disney, being in america and being thousands of miles away from home I went….. I was enjoying every minute yet had in my thought that I knew it wasn’t right and I needed to stop, anyway we went on a couple of rides then went onto buzz light years lazer blast. This was a toy story ride where you shoot the aliens with lasers,  It was also a big mistake. 1/4 of the way into the ride I saw all the lights blur and go into bold block colours with a angel like rim around them. The next think I knew I was back stage! Although back stage of disney may sound great it’s not the way that I wanted to see it. Id already made plans of how i would one day see disney back stage by being a reporter for the disney blog or being a cast member for a year…. this was not in my plans.  

Disney back stage is just as a wow factor and disneyfied as the rest of Disney, there is cast land and costume land! I’m not joking it’s amazing. I just wish I saw more of where I was… I drifted off and woke up in our hotel room. 
The rest of the holiday was great. I went on rides, saw characters and i was with the love of my life. yet some things just felt wrong, but i didn’t know how. I put it down to being home sick… although i had travelled without mum before this was the furthest i’d been. I’d backpacked around france, belgium and been to amsterdam yet this seemed more scary! yet I was protected in a disney bubble.
In america disney is like a little country. It has its own  free police force, ambulance service, medical centres, life guards, fire department and a whole host of other normal paying services. if you had the money disney also offers hair dressers, laundrettes, spas, nail parlours, insurance, andd shopping all in its resort. These are all very pricey but if you were a millionaire and loved disney as much as i do America disney is the place to spend your millions.

The only thing I didn’t like was the water parks they were too scary for me… I was quite happy floating round the perimeter on the rubber rings though.,. I did enjoy the bit where you put on a life jacket and let the current take you round the outskirts of the park like your white water swimming. That was fun! but the fast wirling speed down a ramp on a water thing rides are not me. the thought of being up that high and needed to get down and the only option being a water flume scared the pants off me… it did happen once and i went down the flume which made my mind up that never again would i submit myself to the experience !

I really love Disney. I had not been on many roller coasters in my life and id never visited a theme park other than margate dreamland and disney for a day however I’d fallen in love with rock and roller coaster staring aerosmith. While I was at Disney I promised myself I would do everything….but especially go on r&r! i did.  And I did do a lot more ! I’m so proud as I even went on tower of terror which is a elevator that goes up and drops you from the 13th floor…. Now that’s fine but I had a fear of normal elevators so this was crazy for me to even think of going on it… Yet I did!

I went on all the rides had to offer.. Some were ok others I had to go round again! But I struggled through. I saw backstage of rock and roller coaster after watching the 3,2,1 light sign while in the cue and then having a seizure but I kept on going. How I dont know.

We split our holiday with a week and a half at Disney and a week at the royal pacific hotel next to universal studios. I was so so tired at the end of the holiday.. I wasn’t Eating much as It was so hot and I don’t do well in English heat let alone this new american heat. The heat here was severe, the mid day sun hovered over your head and your shaddow disappeared from 11am till 3pm. The combination of not eating, lots and lots of walking, and the seizures meant I lost 3 stone in 2 weeks. I knew i was feeling weak but i didn’t realise it was so bad but when I got home it shocked people. especially mum. I was skin and bone. I found things hard when I got home… I was weak, tired, still having seizures and still not able to eat much. I couldn’t get an appointment with my dr for a week so I went back to work and continued studying. I didn’t want to loose my dream of being a nurse.

My studying finished and my portfolio handed in I was working full time on the ward loving every second of patient care, i was learning something new everyday and had applied for 4 jobs with a promise of a placement in the radiology theatres, the other applications were just a process you went through, the radiology position was my dream and i couldn’t believe i was going straight into it. I continued to work hard. I was finding it difficult and I wasn’t strong enough, and I knew it yet I struggled and struggled not letting it show.
One night I finished work, I knew I needed to go home…. Gavin was working a all night shift so we met and had coffee then i went home with mum. She picked me up and I got home in my bed and slept.
I had a bad night as far as seizures went and the next day was so bad mum had to phone In sick to my work. I was basically out of it. Throughout the day I had 15 -20 seizures though i was recovering in between and slept. by 9 o’clock when Gavin came over  i was getting worse when i had had 4 seizures in a row without recovery he phoned straight through to margate hospital and then put me in the car and took me to margate A & E. Life was about to change. 

It came tumbling down

I had just got the ok to take my driving test and it was booked for a week thursday. I was ecstatic. work was great life was great. Yet i had a niggling feeling. I hadn’t been feeling well the last few days. I was tired It was the wrong time of the month and my headaches becoming unbearable again…. i had a odd feeling but couldn’t describe it to myself so talking to a dr i thought was useless.
I was working at the main hospital and the local one so id my own patient groups in both and flitted easily too and throw by bus yet i craved the car for the ease.
I got to work at 8:30 and sat in the office doing a few bits of paperwork before heading off to the ward. It was a hot summer day and the hospital was stuffy… i gulped down some pills and a glass of water and grabbed my list hoping the pills would kick in quick.
I done a few patients on my own and then met my friend and colleague to do a double patient. our supervisor was there and wanted to check on the patient too as it had been a while since she was there… i took a step back and let her take over .
the room went blurry and i woke up on the floor attached to a sats and bp monitor. I had had a fit.
The world ended again
I lay on the floor and when my fellow work colleagues stopped to talk i explained that i was ok i will be ok i just need to rest. I went home and when i returned to work the next day i was told i was not to be working with my supervisor anymore. This was because of the seizure and she disagreed with me working there at all. I fought for 3 months and finally won over and had my job back and a apology the stress was not needed though my seizures were again controlled and i had my job but i was so close to my dark days it scared me… I made in my head promise to be happy and to think of disney and sparkles for future.

Prom, Ignorance & new beginnings

Or not……..
Prom was great. I had a long dress, a shawl and 2 men one on each arm a stretched limo and friends … i was a lucky girl. The night was great and i danced for an hour until the atmosphere changed…. I started to feel dizzy and hot and I went and stood outside the hall by the office door…. The disco was too much and i had nearly been captured by the beast again. My prom night ruined for me. I dozed on the big comfy chairs for an hour  in my ball gown determined not to go home or to worry mum by calling her out. I woke and went back to the party. When the prom finished a group of us were due to go to an after party…. We climbed over the school gates as they were closed at the end of the school we wanted to leave and i struggled back to a friends house. Here we stayed up for a while (everyone else drinking, me not as i knew it wouldn’t end well) and had a laugh. I still felt i had a good eve. I went home at 1 am and didn’t wake up till11 the next morning.


6th form was difficult. My work was suffering as i was still having problems  in class due to the absence seizures… if i concentrated at the board for too long i would have a grand mall as the flickering light was send me into oblivion!

I ended 6th form with my languages (english, french and the spanish id been doing at night school) and my sciences. I dropped history as i just couldn’t fill my brain with all the dates anymore. sad but resigned to the fact i would go back to night school and do it there. The second year i went to my first class. As i walked in the new drama teacher who was also head of year pulled me over. She said “now you don’t have any seizures in my class, I don’t have time for it” I was astonished. what was she on about… how ? what?  i was stunned. I took a deep breath and said in no certain terms “if i could turn a switch mrs James, don’t you think i would choose not to have these at all?, She looked. I turned and walked out… i didn’t look back and never went back to school again. I felt discusted and betrayed but it may have been the best thing of my life to happen. 

As soon as i left i started to panic. Tears streamed down my face as i walked home ( i wasn’t supoeesto be out on my own but i needed to breathe and i knew mum was at work) it was a long way and took 3 hours but by th time i got home mum was there and i had cleared my mind. I told her what happened and she freaked. She wanted to go to the school immediately but i stopped her and said i would work it out for myself.
That i did.
That eve i searched the web and ploughed the job sites. Id filled in so many forms i couldn’t remember what for.
but i felt relaxed that night as i went to bed. knowing i had a new life to start seemed quite calming. Despite not having a clue where that new life would take me, or when it would start.

The next morning i woke to the phone ringing. i reached out to the phone and a lady spoke “is that Joanne *******”
oh no i thought its the school with more issues! yes i said… reservedly. She continued to speak but i couldn’t tell you now what she said. at the end of the call she said she would call me back. I put the phone down and stood back in amazement. mum came in to see who it was…. Ive just got a job i said.
i sat down with mum and told her about the phone call……. i had just been enrolled onto a NHS apprenticeship in Physiotherapy. I would go to college 2 days a week while working at the local hospital. WOW i was happy.
I didn’t know much about physiotherapy so i googled it and found the basics… looks good i though plus i will probably get fit at the same time!
my first day was scary. i went to canterbury college and was enrolled. i filled out forms showed certificates and yes got questioned about my epilepsy which at the moment was behaving itself a little better… i’d not had a seizure in a month. i had a occupational health assessment and it was cleared as long as i didn’t work nights. this was fine as nights were not required at a cottage hospital.
I was into the job  a whole year and id only had seizures while asleep. the medication was great. I applied for my driving licence and when it came through the post it was like my life had changed again. Freedom was on the horizon.

The Beast take 2

At the hospital surprise hit me…. It was dr teri ! ! !!
does nothing change in these places i thought! i was happy to see a familiar face though as i felt silly, scared and like my world had come crashing down, and i was back to stage 1.
Dr terri looked at the report the school nurse had put in and listened to what mum said and asked about my feelings…. He decided that it would be best to send me to a specialist (more so that him) the carbamazepine were not working very well and it had all come on quite quick. On the way out i had to go for another EEG, ECG, MRI scan and blood tests. God how i hated blood tests. 
i was referred to Dr Mick at a specialist centre. This centre was a weird place, like a old victorian house with a long thin stair case leading unto a landing and a couple of rooms then another staircase leading up to where we needed to go. i booked in and sat down with mum in the waiting area. The centre was used for ill and disadvantage kids on certain days and the room was filled with toys…. i remember thinking how stupid it is to have a building like this for disabled children when they had to climb 2 lots of stairs and squeeze down corridors…. not a place easy for a wheelchair and no lift! the place has been re-located now but at the time it must have been a logistical nightmare for staff and parents!
Dr Mike was lovely. He was a very large man who looked quite scary but his manor was impeccable. he went through the results of the EEG, and MRI and blood work with mum and I.
The blood tests showed that the level of drug in my blood was not very high so thats probably why it wasn’t having much effect. The MRI showed some darkening over the left side of my brain which added up with the EEG results which showed most spikes over the same area and then a few in the rest of the brain. He concluded i had absence seizures (id been daydreaming a lot but the nurse had reported a couple of spells of this (that i was totally unaware of) in the day after the seizure at school. and also complex partial of the left temporal lobe with secondary generalisation.
This meant nothing to us at that point but i got on the computer and with a few leaflets that dr mike gave us i done my research with mum. We were both pretty horrified as i two types of seizures but tried to stay positive as we’d got settled on medication before so surly we could do it again.

My Label

A medical bracelet or pendant is a little metal disc, that encloses information and labels the wearer. If you look  you will see i wear a pendant. I used to wear a bracelet but it got in the way alot and it was eassier for people to see, they used to stare and back away and so now i wear a pendant so i can hide it under my T-shirt if i feel the need. It’s not the “Allergic to Dihydrocodeine or Keppera and that causes the strange response, its the “epilepsey”.                  
When people see my label they usually say Oh you have somthing wrong with you dont you? And when they ask to see what it is all about and they see what it says they say “EWE you can swallow your toungue when you go off on one” or “you go crazy and stuff  with that don’t you?” . I really don’t know how to respond, because im not like some mad girl with a psyco disorder, and i’ts impossible to swallow your toungue, it’s just when you have a fit there is a possibility of you biting it, and yes that has happened but its nothing crazy. Sometimes if its a bad fit it continues for ages and i get hurt as i fall and bite my toungue and so there can be blood and so i supose thats what scares people but its not contagious. 
Once when i was away from my friends and family in a shopping centre and ended up in a major epileptic fit.The people around me didn’t know what was going on and understandably got scared. An ambulance was called and on arrival after regaining consciousness they told me i was having an epileptic fit. I told them that i know that as i’ve had epilepsy for years. After much confusion, they contacted my mum who explained what was going on. When i got home we decided it was time to get a medi-alert, in case that happened again while i was on the road again (que the song!!!).
I wear the pendant because it makes things easier in an emergency, not because i want to advertise that i’m different. It has helped me several times having the label, and it’s saved alot of confusion in times when i’m unable to explain myself.   Unfortunatly there are still alot of people around who don’t understand Epilepsy and are scared of me  when they find out. I just ask that i be treated the same as anyone else.
And if there is an inseance where i need help, don’t back away when you read my label.

Funny feelings

Age 14 and in the end of year 9 i started to get some strange feelings. I put them down to growing up and womanly changes. (we had all had the talk). Somehow i thought these feelings felt familiar yet i wasn’t sure how so put them to the back of my mind and continued enjoying school, karate, and dancing.
We often had presentations and talks in school assembly sometimes science, or music or drama. any type you could waste 15 minutes of assembly with.
I had been paying more attention to music class in the last 2 years. Last year with a lot of help from my class music teacher I had persuaded mum to buy me a clarinet. I loved this clarinet it was old, second hand and all the writing has rubbed off but i loved it and played for hours. I’d even met a boy in the school library who took me to a band practice.
I couldn’t afford proper music lessons so i sat in front the mirror with my book. I then went to the band practice and sat next to the first persition and watched his fingers and the dots on the page and followed. When he stopped i took note of what the marking was and when he went quicker or slower the same thing. This is how i learnt, It worked.
This assembly myself and a few other students were playing a tune for assembly. I had these funny feeling but put them down to nerves as despite all the academic side i hated being centre of attention or on stage. I hated speaking in public or in groups and was pretty much a solo behind the scenes type a gal and thats how i liked it….. the clarinet changed part of that and i came out from behind the curtain.
We played beautifully and took our bow and then i followed the other students off the stage.

As i got near the steps i felt ill. I couldn’t describe the feeling but i didn’t feel good. I took a step down the stage steps to join my tutor group in the ranks and it all went blank.
Im a teenager… this can’t happen to me I’m invincible (well ok not quite but we all think we are at that age!)

As a kid i had many embarrassing times…. everyone does. However as i woke blurry eyes with my head of year and tutor next to me, hearing the rest of the school file out of the hall i was mortified. I’d fainted…. or so i thought. the school nurse was also there and she took me back to the office.
she asked me questions and asked me about my epilepsy history. When my mum arrived she was told that they think i had a seizure. The roller coaster took a loop the loop and headed into oblivion!
I was taken home and i rested…. i was tired. The next day i awoke on the floor.
What, how, hu ! were the questions running through my brain at lightning speed.  what is happening to me.
3 days later Mum took me to the drs as id had 3 more episodes and from what mum remembered of my childhood they were fits.
the dr put my straight back onto carbamazepine, the school was informed and i had an appointment at the hospital.

In two days my life had gone from exciting, fun filled and independent to crazy, end of world (in teenage eyes), embarrassing and not wanting to go to school which I loved and normally craved. I was back on the roller coaster of epilepsy.

At school 

Dancing Queen V’s Karate Kid

sorry couldn’t resist the post title! 

It seemed that the next few years flew by.  school life was back on track and social life too. Yes there were restrictions but I still had fun and my childhood was pretty good really! Family life was difficult at times but who’s wasn’t right !So I went throughout the next two years pretty steadily with regular hospital check ups and changes to medication level as I grew. When I was 9  I was taken ill again. It had happened over a few weeks but I ended up again in hospital but this time not for too long.I had appointments to go back for tests which i did. The tests were quite nasty and now at age 9 i had learnt that hospital were not good nice places to be as i always came out with holes in me somewhere and hurting for the things they did. I did always had some soft disney toy or other that was great for distraction. I didn’t care that most kids thought 9 was too old for toys such as disney and soft bears… i embraced the lot disney and sparkles all the way. There were lots of tests that they done on this round of my MOT.  The one i remember vividy was one that provoked my seizures. It was an E.E.G but they made me stop all my medication. Then when i was all hooked up they flashed a light in my eyes…. i can’t remember anything beyond that point !Becoming older I understood more and more which was not necessarily a good thing! When the results of the tests came back it was revealed that my epilepsy was generalised but originated from the temporal lobe. There were lots of medication available at that point so i was put on some different pills and life carried on.After 4 weeks i was the liveliest i’d been in years… we didn’t realise it at the time but the previous medications had obviously made me more tired than i should have been. I was happy real happy. I had always loved dancing and i’d joined the local dance school at 6, but i was now dancing better and enjoying it more. Age 10 i also joined the local karate class. Here i met lots of new friends and thrived at being a little karate kid. I zoomed through the first grades and was taken to all the local competitions. age 11 i went to regionals and won! the next 6 months were run up for the semi finals. I loved the lot and had a fab day despite getting up at 4 am! i came 2nd in the combat sparing and 1st in kata. Mum and my instructor could not have been happier as we were not expecting it after getting up so early and the long journey ! My next appointment at the hospital i proudly put on dr terri’s desk my trophy and medal with a photo of me and the rest of the team. Dr terri replaced the old regional phot with the new semi final photo and was also thrilled. No medication change was needed and once again life continued on a upward roller coaster.I was full throttle in with my karate and was loving every minute of it… I was going to competitions every week and even went to a big competition in London, this one didn’t go too well as i was 3 times smaller than my opponent and ended up in the ambulance corner where i got patched up ready to do my next competition entry: kata. Despite the cuts and bruises from the fighting i came 3rd in the kata class so it was worth going especially as it was such a huge competition.My love at the moment was dancing. id only recently started competing but was doing ok. In fact I had a dancing partner, he was 2 years older than me but we were a good match. We both done really well with our routine and thrived in rock and roll. Competed in many competitions School was also great. Apart from seizures when I was poorly with cold, flu or had an infection. Anyway school went well and from 5th year on I had no more seizures… the new medication had worked ! I was delighted as were my family. I got to do things I hadn’t in a while and I was slowly weaned off the tablets that I had been taking for over 6 years!. Life was great, and I going off with my friends on our own…I was getting a bit of independence. A happy ending? 

Life after diagnosis

And yes don’t worry there is a life after diagnosis…. it’s just a little more complicated than before! but we fight it disney style : with positivity and sparkles all the way!So for the next couple of weeks life continued. I went to school and all was ok although after mum told the school I was banned from using the PE equipment as I could fall off!. My mum, had to learn how to use rectal diazepam which would get me out of a seizure if it didn’t happen on its own. I was too young to know or remember too much of the details. my life’s roller coaster was going at full speed and downwards.Life again continued on its merry way and apart from a few seizures I didn’t take much notice. As a young child you take things in your stride and grow to live with things. I wasn’t to know this wasn’t normal!. My mum on the other hand had to deal with the stigma of having a child with epilepsy. I now know after mum telling me that some of the parents told their children not to go near me because I had epilepsy!!! If any of those parents are reading this blog now…. shame on you but thank you because you are some of the reason I am the strong person i am today and am campaigning form more awareness. 
At the age of 7 I moved.  This was great fun as we actually moved on 24th November (my birthday) not only was it my birthday but it was snowing too! great fun for me but not so for the move.I was on a bit of a buzz as Topper and I (topper being out toy poodle)  were staying with nan and grandad who had made me a cake and brought me the biggest polly pocket world i’d seen… I was loving it.  I had to change schools and life was better. We were nearer to the rest of the family and I was going to the same school as my mum and cousins had been to. I met a new cousin while at school that i didn’t even know about so life was great. Then things changed Although i loved school, I was worried what the people, and my new friends would do if the seizures (fits as i called them) reared their ugly head. I would had to face another set of kids with the same kinda questions as the last. It didnt happen and I ended loving my new school, friends and life much better than my old school.

Welcome, & my decision to go public !

This Blog is about my life and ride with Epilepsy. Through my own personal journey with epilepsy I want to help other people and let them know they are not alone. So many times i have felt alone…. even in a crowded room, vulnerable… never knowing when a seizure will strike.Ive been writing long before blogs were invented but it is only recently I discovered the impact that a web journal or “blog”  can have on the areas i cover in my writing. Especially on subjects close to my heart that need help to be published and awareness raised. I entered the world of “internet and epilepsy awareness” about a year ago and discovered truly that I wasnt alone. There are other people out there thinking the same as me. Struggling like me. This writing has previosuley only been my personal Journal, however through gaining confidence from the people i’ve met online and with the urge to raise more and much needed awareness of the condition I want to make my words public. This includes the non-edited raw truth about my life.I thought one day i would edit it and make it all nice and fluffy as i call it… but why? life isn’t like that and my aim is to show the truth out there so here we are. I started blogging on another site a few years ago but left all entries private… since deciding to “go public” I decided to move to blogger as they seem to have more features which I like…. so here it goes. (please bear with me while i move my blog over as this may take some time) Through going public I hope I will be able to raise awareness but also raise money in the aid of research for more treatments of the condition. so far this year my total is £720. Please give me feedback on my words and donate to my just giving page if you are able.