Health: ‘I’ve adapted to life with epilepsy’

Team Helen is ready to take on Neurocare challenge
Team Helen is ready to take on Neurocare challenge

In January 2015 I suffered a near fatal Subarachnoid Haemorrhage, an uncommon type of stroke caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain, which came completely out of the blue.

I was in a coma for seven days and spent six weeks at the high dependency unit, and then transferred for rehabilitation for a further two weeks to help me get back on my feet.

After a time I wanted to return to work in my role as a senior teaching assistant at a primary school. I loved my job and was committed to it, so was very excited to go back, albeit on a phased return to begin with.

But then, out of nowhere, I had a massive epileptic seizure. After that they kept on coming and didn’t stop. I was diagnosed with post stroke epilepsy that was so severe I had to retire from work, which was completely heart-breaking.

Last year alone I had more than 100 seizures. My epilepsy has massively changed my life. I used to be a strong independent woman and now I am forced to rely on other people.

I can’t drive, or even shower on my own. I used to love cooking, but now there are some days where I haven’t got the strength and have to stop half way through. Someone has to be with me at all times, meaning that I’ve lost all my independence.

That said, I have learned to accept it and stay positive. I take every day as it comes and live my life as much as I can. It’s just a different path to what I had planned.

My family and friends have been great, including my three grown up sons, my husband, my sister, niece Madison and my close friend, Julie. My mum and mother-in-law also help me immensely with the everyday tasks of running a house and I have a two-year-old granddaughter Mollie.

I’m so lucky to have this support network, which scoop me up when I need it and get me out and about.

I have also been supported by the most fantastic clinic and consultant at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, whose ultimate aim for me is to be seizure free. My latest medication seems to be controlling my seizures more, which is giving me hope. 

The epilepsy nurses have been brilliant too, as they’re always on the end of the phone and listen.

I am putting together a team for Neurocare’s annual Head Start race, and I’m aiming to attend on the day, even if I’m not able to take part myself. This will be my third year supporting the event, adding to the £2,700 we have already raised for the charity so far.

Without the continued care of the doctors, nurses, therapist and all the support staff I wouldn’t be here today, so I really wanted to do something to thank all of them.

Head Start, a 5k and chip timed 10k run, will take place on Sunday May 20 at Rother Valley Country Park. 

The event is suitable for everyone; from first time runners and seasoned professionals, plus those who would just like to walk the course. 

For more information, or to register, visit www.neurocare.org.uk/event/head-start- 5k-10k, email beth@neurocare.org.uk or call 0114 226 9678.