Christa was diagnosed with epilepsy 12 years ago. She shares the challenges she has faced, how she was diagnosed with epilepsy, and the different types of seizures she faces.
I’m a retired Police Officer and about two years before I retired, I had a car accident and was diagnosed with epilepsy.
I remember leaving work late, heading for the local chip shop to buy my supper, and waking up about 24 hours later, in hospital.
I had no memory of what had happened and wasn’t injured and no one else was involved, though I had damaged my car and the fence, which I’d driven into.
After many weeks of examination and tests, including a residential stay at the Quarriers Centre in Glasgow, I was diagnosed with epilepsy.
I had to give up my driving licence and became reliant on buses or walking to and from places.
Grampian Police arranged for me to work from a Police office, which was only one bus journey away from home.
I had already been working in administrative duties and wasn’t a front-line Officer, due to other unrelated medical issues. I retired after I’d completed my 30 years Police service.
Many types of epilepsy
There are many types of epilepsy and I have temporal lobe epilepsy, which affects my memory and concentration, badly. I suffer from focal awareness seizures. This means that I don’t fall down when I have seizures.
They are known as absence seizures, where I lose awareness of where I am and what I’m doing. I usually go quiet and seem to stare into space.
Also, I have deja vu seizures, where I often experience a feeling of already having done something.
I had to stop driving and give up my licence and I doubt if I’ll ever be allowed to drive again. This had a huge impact on my life and my job,
I’m currently on two types of anti-epilepsy medication, but I still continue to have unexpected seizures.
Over the last few months, I seem to have had a higher frequency of seizures. Some feel like they’re different from the other two types and I don’t get any warning.
I have several side effects from the medication, mostly affecting my emotions and mood. I can often become “difficult” and “awkward” to deal with and find myself becoming angry with people and sometimes unable to stop or change my behaviour, despite “knowing” that it’s wrong!
As a result of not having a licence and the possibility of unexpected mood swings, I found it very difficult to find another job/profession which suited me.
However, I was already a volunteer with an organisation for blind and deaf people, so I became a volunteer receptionist and did this for a couple of years.
I live on my own and I’m grateful that my type of epilepsy doesn’t involve me falling down. Yet, I could still come to harm because of my epilepsy.
I was already interested in disability matters, so I joined a Council led group, made up of other people with various disabilities.
During the pandemic, I joined another disability group, working with the Council and public transport organisations, in order to give opinions on behalf of disabled and visually impaired people and bus users, like myself.
At the start of the pandemic, I volunteered at the local Salvation Army office, as I’m a Christian and wanted to do something practical to help people, during this awful time.
After the pandemic, I left the Salvation Army and currently volunteer for a large Christian organisation, which has a second-hand shop, runs monthly sales, and has a huge warehouse, where clients can visit and get all the usual household items needed, for free.
I have recently experienced changes in my epilepsy, which are not pleasant. Instead of changing my medication, my GP has suggested that I have a course of CBT, (cognitive behavioural therapy), to change my behaviour, if necessary.
If you would like to share your experiences of living with epilepsy, please email David Coates our Communications Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 427 4911.