Graeme Richardson is one of many people who took part in the Jane Tomlinson Walk for All 2012. He tells Peter Fox about his life with epilepsy – and why he feels a spot of exercise is just the ticket
When were you diagnosed with epilepsy?
I first started with epilepsy around 1985. I was starting secondary school at the time. I remember falling to the ground. It felt strange and awful. My parents took me to the GP, who referred me to a neurologist at Leeds General Infirmary.
I had a brain scan, which showed that the cause of my epilepsy could not be operated on. It was in the centre of my brain – if I had an operation I was told I could end up in a wheelchair. I had a numerous EEGs – both at the hospital and 24-hour EEGs at home.
My epilepsy is for life. Thankfully, I now have a great neurologist at the Leeds General Infirmary, Dr Stuart Jamieson. I have been prescribed lots of different anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). My current medication seems to be working fine now. I am taking Epilim, pregabalin, lacosamide and Frisium (just one tablet at night). Unfortunately, I have found that my AEDs affect my metabolism and my weight is a constant problem.
How long have you been a supporter of Epilepsy Action?
After being diagnosed with epilepsy, I joined the organisation on an annual basis. When I realised my epilepsy was for life, I paid to become a lifetime member of Epilepsy Action. I just want to help and support the organisation in any way possible. I took part in the Take epilepsy action event in Leeds last year. I’ve done the Ben Nevis challenge to raise money for Epilepsy Action, as well.
I also spend time talking to other people with epilepsy – friends I’ve made on various websites.You may ask why? I want to help and support other people with the condition.
What made you want to take part in Walk for All?
I just took the decision to raise money for Epilepsy Action to help pay for epilepsy research. More volunteers are needed to raise financial support for Epilepsy Action.
Also, the side-effects I get from my medication are weight gain and aggression. Hopefully, doing the 14-mile walk will help me start to lose weight. I want to lose five stones and over 10 inches around my waist. This will also help me fit into better clothes! The government promotes walking or any type of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. I wholly support walking as a way for people with epilepsy to stay healthy.
Have you been doing any training to help you prepare for your walk?
I’ve started walking with a local walking group, called ‘Horsforth Healthy Walkers’. We do a weekly walk of up to five miles. I also did several walks during the Otley Walking Festival in June.
I am looking forward to the Walk for All in the Yorkshire Dales. I am doing the14-mile Settle to Malham round trip. It will be hard work – but nothing is ever easy! As long I stay hydrated and have enough to eat I should be fine. I know there will be lots of people from Epilepsy Action to support me as I go. I want to raise as much as possible for Epilepsy Action. I’ve already raised over £200!