When I was 21, my dad was woken by an enormous banging sound coming from the bathroom, it was early morning on a wet and windy Saturday.
I was known for keeping odd hours (I was a young adult and beautifying myself, I was meeting a friend in town. So my dad lay there for a moment before realising that this wasn’t just me being inconsiderate but that something was seriously wrong. He rushed down the stairs, knocked down the bathroom door and discovered I was having a seizure but I was under the water, I had turned blue.
They used to be called grand mal but nowadays are referred to as tonic-clonic seizures. My body had been convulsing and shaking like it had electricity being passed through it. My jaw clenched I was struggling unconsciously for breath and my eyes rolled back. My dad stayed with me while the convulsions continued and then after a few minutes they began to ease. The ambulance men arrived, even to this very day I can still remember the smell of aftershave one of the men was wearing. The ambulance men said that they were very positive that I had an epileptic seizure, I was rushed into hospital for further treatment.
I felt that I had been 12 rounds with a boxer, My tongue was blood-red with teeth marks and swollen, all my muscles were filled with lactic acid and ached, I mean really ached, and I had a banging headache.
It actually hurt to open my mouth and my tongue didn’t want to be consoled. Time passed and I tried to shrug off the event and continue on. I was always aware that it may return and I did do some research on epilepsy, but confident that I was not disabled’ it wasn’t something I was going to worry too much about. I was keen to have fun with my friends, look forward to obtaining financial independence and considering driving lessons.
A few days later it happened again. Much the same situation except this time it was a shorter episode. This time I actually woke up after the seizure (I cannot recall how much longer after) however I was petrified and frightened. My body was, as before, beaten up but I had a real sense of being under the control of something in my head, I lost control of my bladder which caused a lot of anxiety, embarrassment and confusion. I was filled with fear knowing that it could strike again… anytime, anywhere. I couldn’t sleep that evening, my body was demolished, I eventually passed out with exhaustion and a pounding, never ending headache.
I remember I saw the doctor and he arranged for an EEG and MRI test. Although my fears were becoming reality, I was also really pleased that questions were hopefully going to be answered. The possibly horrible truth was better than the very scary unknown, and unfortunately just as I thought, my nursing plans out the window then?, policeman? I’ve got no chance, working with children? couldn’t even do that, just in case I harmed them during a seizure. Negative thoughts were all circulated about my mind during this period, all my hopes and dreams for my future suddenly taken away from me, just like that in a brief second. No need to aim high now pursuing the required academic qualifications.
I was extremely angry and heartbroken at life for the situation of my recent diagnosis, why me? I was a very withdrawn person and cried myself to sleep each night. My life had just been turned upside down and dreams and aspirations broken.
It took me a while to realise that I wasn’t the only individual struggling each and every day with this condition. The impact of my disability on me was not as harsh as those experienced by others. I was, and I am a very lucky and fortunate young man.