Tell us more about the day you had a seizure in public while pregnant and what a difference someone helping made to you.
6th March 2015 remains the worst day of my life. I suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum while pregnant and the night before I felt rough. My seizures had increased in pregnancy (only complex partials up to that stage) and I should have taken epilepsy medication clobazam, but I didn’t as it makes me very, very drowsy and I had to be up at 5am. I shouldn’t have gone to work and I paid the price – a decision I have regretted every day since. I got up, went to work, didn’t eat anything and felt as sick as a dog. When I got up the tube station stairs I felt an aura (warning), tried to get to the floor and that was the last I remember.
The next thing I knew was that I had woken up halfway down the stairs on my front. The lady who was there rolled me over and shouted for help. I was terrified, struggling to talk. I didn’t know if she realised I was pregnant and I was getting more and more distressed, trying to talk but not being able to. She didn’t leave my side for a long time and kept talking to me. My workmate then got off the next train and took control, until the paramedics arrived. They thought I had broken my neck – I was cut out of my clothes, put on a spinal board and had a canular put in. I just remember as she was leaving, she put her hand to my head, stroked my hair and said she hoped everything was alright. With that she was gone.
All these were such simple things, but at the worst and scariest moment of my life, her kindness was a huge positive in an otherwise god awful day. I have tried really hard to find her but with no luck. If I could speak to her now, I’d tell her that bump is now Noah, a cheeky, happy and healthy almost four-year-old. That despite fears, I managed to walk away with bumps, bruises, cuts and sprains. I would thank her for having human compassion – I don’t think she knew what to do but she was kind and stayed when so many would have walked away. I would thank her from the bottom of my heart for my baby boy, as I do everyone who helped me that day. That I will never have the words to tell her how grateful I am. Small actions have a big impact.
We’re very lucky to have Noah but we have decided we won’t have any more children because of how ill I was during the pregnancy and because of the medication I am now on.
That was clearly a positive experience but do you have any less positive experiences with members of the public not helping?
Oh I love this one! I have had people refuse to give me a seat on the train when pregnant, and didn’t even offer when I was sat on the floor because I felt like a seizure was coming on. I was in a shop once when in the first few months of being pregnant and began to feel an aura coming on. I sat down on the floor again – the shop assistant took one look at me and carried on walking.
What is the one message you’d like to get over to members of the public about ways they can help someone having a seizure in public?
If they can do nothing else, just stay close by and reassure the person. If in doubt, call for an ambulance – you don’t know their seizure history. Someone who seems drunk or disorientated could be having a partial seizure – again remain close and don’t try to restrain them. Doing something is better than doing nothing. I think fear and lack of knowledge are the main reason people don’t help. The key to this is raising awareness. Knowledge is power.