We fight to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Gemma Wright

I was once an active young woman; I loved my job as a care assistant, and I enjoyed walking, swimming and cycling. Slowly and surely, though, epilepsy robbed me of my balance; it became too dangerous for me to work with vulnerable elderly patients and so I had to give up my job - and swimming and cycling are now just fond and distant memories.

I still enjoyed walking and baking bread though; those were two things I still had, with the help and support of my husband. I also enjoy pickling and preserving, but I am also having to battle ME and need help with this (fortunately I have a mad best friend who likes to drop in at the weekends and help). There is also my rather large tarantula collection, which I derive great pleasure from (they're my pets; I even have a few favourites. I used to be massively arachnophobic, but that's a story for another time).

I was just about managing in spite of the ME, but in April I suffered an absence seizure at the top of the stairs and I tumbled all the way back down. All I can remember is the impact on landing - and the scream that followed. I have a very high pain threshold - so if I'm screaming you know it has to be serious. I've wandered around with a broken arm before, and not realised for weeks - but this agony was immediate.

I had broken my hip, but had assumed it to be a bad sprain until a week later, when I couldn't get off the bed that morning, or even manage to sit up. It took six paramedics to sedate me, examine me, and then lift me in some sort of contraption to get me downstairs and into an ambulance. I know how a wardrobe feels when it's being moved down the stairs when moving house!

I have three cannulated screws in my left hip now, and I was booked in as an emergency so was operated on the day after admission. I am still unable to walk unaided around the house, and I need a wheelchair if I'm going outside. Since my consultant thinks I might have osteoporosis, it might always be this way - and so I have to accept what is, and work with it.

So many people believe that a seizure is nothing more than falling over and shaking a little bit. I'm here to tell you otherwise. My seizures are controlled by my medication - but my seizures are all over my brain and so they can't be controlled completely, Generalised epilepsy is pretty nasty and unpredictable, and it's now put me in a wheelchair.

I just want people to know that this can happen. I'm of a certain age, and taking medication that can cause osteoporisis - and it's in my family anyhow. BUT: if it happens to you, make the best of it. Stay positive; bling up your walking aids (I have a very pretty walking stick that I've needed for years anyway, and my niece is really wanting to get her hands on my TARDIS blue chair so that she can customise it Doctor Who style). Don't feel bad about something you couldn't possibly have prevented.

And if you need to reach out to someone, don't hesitate; just do it. Make sure you have a good support network around you. I have my husband, and my hospital consultants, and my sister. I'm lucky.

Of course, if you can avoid breaking your hip... don't do it :)

Gemma Wright
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