I’m Lorraine, this is my life as an epileptic

I remember the day very well when I had my first epileptic seizure at 13 years of age.

I was out with my friends at a Musical Youth concert back in the early 1980’s. I returned home and went to sleep after an exhausting and exciting day.  I woke up and did not feel well, I went downstairs and my body started twitching, I felt terrified as I did not know what was happening to me.

I went downstairs to tell my mom and dad that I did not feel well, it was then I fell to the floor and had my first ever epileptic seizure.  I remember waking up and feeling scared, being unaware of what had happened to me. My face and body were bruised and swollen. I was told by my parents that my body had “bounced” over the lounge and they were unable to control what was happening to me as my body movements were so strong, they were unable to control it.

During my seizure, I had hit my face and body onto our brick fireplace in the lounge, but there was nothing that my parents could do about it – I suppose they were in shock as they have never seen this happen to me before. After numerous hospital visits and tests, I was diagnosed with Grand Mal epilepsy, where I was prescribed with medication to establish the dosage required and any further treatment that I required.

The diagnosis was something that came as a shock to me as I was not sure if or when I would experience another seizure. This affected my life as I could not predict when another seizure would occur. I was member of the school swimming team, which I loved. I had to give this up along with other social activities, until my medication controlled my epilepsy.

As years went by, my epilepsy was managed with medication. At 23, I was pregnant with my first child. I was told by the hospital that due to my anti-seizure medication, my baby may be born with a cleft lip and palate. During the 9 months of my pregnancy I was worried, but thought that if that was the case, I would just address it at the time. Thankfully, when my eldest son was born there were no problems.

lorraine matthews story epilepsy

I carried on with my life as normally as I possibly could, as I refused to let epilepsy take control of my life.  I learnt to recognise the signs of when a seizure was going to happen to me and my family/friends were all aware of this. My parents were told when I did go to the hospital, that my seizures could be due to the birth that my mother had (forceps) or it could be a phase as a teenager.

I have two wonderful sons who have now grown up, but having epilepsy from such a young age, made me appreciate what I do have in life and not to take anything for granted.  I was teased at school, but children can be unkind and I suppose they did not understand what was happening to me.

I am now in my late 40’s and I do not even think about it, it was another life experience that I had to accept and deal with at the time and I appreciate all that I have in my life.

– Lorraine Matthews