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Phil Brotherton


My Epilepsy story began in 2003 when I suffered a serious head injury, although the symptoms didn't start to appear until a couple of years later in 2005.
I can't remember which type of Epilepsy I have, but my specialist said that it was a rare one. I don't have seizures as such, well not Grand Mal ones anyway. Instead I got periods of memory loss, followed by a very long sleep.
Although it wasn't what we're used to seeing, with regards to what everybody thinks of "normal" Epilepsy, it still caused total chaos to my life due to me going missing for several hours at a time & waking up not knowing how I got there or where I'd been?
I lost a very good job in 2005 due to not being able to explain my absences from work. I finally got diagnosed in 2006.

The next 5 or so years are a bit of a blur in my mind. I can't remember whole sections, as I was having 2-4 episodes a week with each one lasting about 12 hours. (Including sleep.) My meds weren't working & my future wasn't looking good.

During 2011 or 2012 (I don't remember exactly when?) My specialist put me on Lamotrigine & my episodes suddenly stopped, it was amazing to feel normal again.

Although initially great news, this transformation then brought about other problems: First of all, the powers to be stopped my Incapacity Benefit & told me to find a job. As some of you will know, this is slightly problematic for most people with a recent history of Epilepsy, especially as my specialist hadn't declared me as fit to work. I was also ineligible for Job Seekers Allowance as my wife worked.

It was at about this time that I came up with a cunning plan!

For most of my life I had had a great love of learning about history & because of this, I really wanted to do something to commemorate the centenary of World War One. It needed to be quite a big thing as I also wanted to show employers that I was capable of working again, especially as an outdoor instructor as that is the only thing that I still held any qualifications for.
Anyway, I spent a few years planning it, before I completed my little journey of remembrance & reconciliation during 2015.

The plan was to follow the route of the battlefields from Asiatic Turkey, across Europe before ending up at home a few months later. I completed the journey on bicycle & on foot.
It didn't entirely go to plan, especially when I ran out of food & money, but it wasn't bad going for somebody who couldn't leave the house on their own just 4 years before. It also confirmed that my Epilepsy really was under control, as the journey put both my body & my mind through immense strain.

I'm happy to say that I'm once more been working in the job that I love, but I still worry that the Epilepsy could return one day & put me back to square one....

I hope that by telling my story, it helps other people with Epilepsy move forwards with their lives, although I wouldn't condone anybody else taking the risks that I took to confirm my fitness to work.

Thanks for reading.


Phil Brotherton
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