I was 22, fit and had just played in a five-a-side football match.
After the match, I went into the changing rooms. Apparently, I was acting odd and yelling all sorts of random things, when I suddenly collapsed onto the tiled floor and had a seizure.
My jaw took the full brunt of the fall, which knocked my teeth out of alignment. I came to, terrified and covered in blood. I was rushed to hospital as a medical emergency, and admitted to a ward where I spent five days drinking through a straw.
I should have been sitting my final university exams with my course mates.
That seizure marked the start of a struggle to control my seizures. I was terrified of having another accident during a seizure. Over time, I tried many different epilepsy medicines and different combinations of medicines. But the seizures just continued for years. Many days, I had around nine seizures. It was a time of unemployment, never-ending seizures and low self-esteem.
I’m still not seizure free, but after having a VNS implanted, I saw a massive improvement in the number and length of my seizures. I no longer have cluster (groups of) seizures or prolonged seizures (I used to have nine seizures in a few hours – leaving me exhausted). I haven’t had a tonic-clonic seizure since, and I recover much more quickly after a seizure.
My VNS has allowed me to do many things during the last ten years. I spent five years teaching English in Slovakia and the Czech Republic – something which I really loved doing. My epilepsy wasn’t a barrier at all, and my teaching colleagues were very supportive.
I’m much more positive about my epilepsy. I can talk to people and potential employers to show that my seizures aren’t an issue. I hope that my confidence and reduced seizure frequency will lead to a full time job working in health or social care.