Epilepsy Scotland’s volunteer, Alan McMaster shares how a combination of epilepsy and a brain haemorrhage has affected his memory.
Alan McMaster was 13 years old when he was diagnosed with epilepsy.
After having two tonic-clonic seizures, he completed a number of tests before eventually being diagnosed with epilepsy. However, he didn’t have another seizure for over 20 years.
Alan said: “The first seizure was when I was 11 years old and I was in East Kilbride running with my mates, having fun and then I just stopped.
“I don’t know how I knew but I said go get my mum because I am going to have a seizure. I had a tonic-clonic seizure there and then.
“From then on I sort of knew the warnings and when the seizures where going to come.
“There was a senior doctor who told me I have got epilepsy. I was 13 years old and was just starting high school and didn’t know how this would affect me.
“There was a severe lack of understanding over the whole issue. That lasted pretty much through my medication, through everything really, as I didn’t understand what was happening.
“This time around I knew what was happening before they diagnosed me.
“I was raging, when I had a seizure about one and a half years ago after not having one for over 20 years. I couldn’t believe that we were back here again, but it happens.”
Problems with memory
Over the past few years, Alan has had problems with his memory, in particular his short-term memory.
However, he feels it is a combination of his epilepsy but also a brain haemorrhage that he suffered from.
He said: “Unfortunately I had a brain haemorrhage, which was completely separate to the epilepsy.
“When I woke up and recovered from the coma I was in, I didn’t know who anyone was and also I didn’t know who I was.
“It took a lot of exercise to train my memory and then a year after that I was diagnosed with epilepsy again.
“I don’t know if the loss of memory was linked to the epilepsy but yes my memory has been affected over the past few years.”
Alan believes that he has problems with his long-term memory in the past. However, believes now it’s his short-term memory that he struggles with.
He added: “It is really hard to say. My long-term memory historically used to be atrocious.
“However, now it gets better daily. My memory is improving on a daily basis. Just from hard work and forming methods like giving your brain space to remember things.
“Now it is more short-term memory. For example, when I meet someone new, it takes me so long to remember their name.
“I have to train my brain to remember it. Anyone who I have known for a long time I know instantly who they are.”
Forming a daily routine
Alan believes coming up with strategies, methods and forming a daily routine has helped him improve his memory, especially when it comes to taking his daily anti-epileptic medication.
He said: “I have a pill box which has the days of the week and also am and pm on it.
“I open the box and get my medication out, but I can’t close that box because if I do, I would be confused as to if I took it or not.
“Even though it is empty I still get feelings of indecisiveness.
“Everything requires some form of a reminder. Getting into a routine is pretty much the best solution.
“Forming a routine helps me remember things on a daily basis.”
For more information on epilepsy and memory, please check out our epilepsy and memory booklet, which can be accessed here.