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The Continuing Heatwave: Anxiety

I know that my last blog was: Tips for Staying Safe in Heatwaves and I follow the tips strictly, but when I wrote the blog I wasn’t expecting the heat wave to last so long, and with each passing day of this warmth, I find myself building with tension and anxiety fearing that I may become unwell if the temperature doesn’t soon begin to cool.

I don’t want to complain about the nice weather, it brings us together and people of all ages are appearing to have a wonderful time in sun.
Have you ever noticed how the heat in the UK always seems different to abroad? I have been to places like the Mediterranean and Australia and as I have exited the plane the warmth embraces you. At home it seems so much more stifling, and as a country we don’t seem to be equipped for the heat either – or any extreme weathers we are used to receiving such a mixed bag. I think this may be part of the reason why I find heatwaves here so difficult.

I have been seizure free for over five years and naturally I’d like it to remain that way. My triggers are normally from sleep deprivation and stress and the fact that I haven’t slept properly since the heat wave began is starting to make me just a little bit anxious.

I know that I am not the only person who is currently feeling this way and I know what I have to do. I have to take it easy, keep doing the good things; i.e. drink plenty, get rest whenever I can, keep as cool as possible, and hardest but most important thing, is to try to take my mind off things remind myself that everything will be fine and that this is Britain, the heat wave will be gone soon – hopefully.

My heart also goes out to everyone who has been unwell with epilepsy during this weather, I have been there, I know how horrible it is, and I think you’re doing great.

If anyone else is feeling anxious you’re welcome to send me a message,
Thanks for reading,
Becky 🙂

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Tips For Staying Safe In Heatwaves

FullSizeRender(5)I can’t be the only one that has a love hate relationship when it comes to summer and hot weather.  You want to be outside enjoying yourself, but you overheat too quickly. You spend most of the day walking around like a zombie after been awake all night, and your are either coping with auras and seizures or worried that due to the heat something is bound to appear soon. Then you worry about worrying – that awful cycle.

I used to always dread summer, and it would be a time where my health would decline. Thankfully, the last few summers have been good and here are 5 tips that I follow.

I hope these help, even now I am learning more things to help me stay protected from the heat.

  1. Stay hydrated

This is a really important tip. The moment you feel thirsty grab a cold drink. Avoid teas and coffees and energy drinks as the high caffeine content may dehydrate you.

I have bought myself a glass drinking bottle, and it is always in the fridge with lovely cold water waiting for me, and if I’m going out I can take it with me.

 

  1. Apply plenty of sun cream

You may think this sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t bother.  I will also share this tip I recently learnt. When buying sun cream check the UVA & UVB star rating as well as the SPF. As we know, UVA & UVB protection blocks the harmful rays from the sun, so if your sun creams UVA & UVB rating is low it’s not protecting you from the harmful rays. If you’re worried that good sun cream will be expensive, it won’t. I bought a SPF50 sun cream with a UVA star rating of 5 (the best) for £1.50.

Suncream

This suncream gives 5* UVA protection and medium SPF protection

It’s also useful to renew sun creams every year, to make sure they are working their best.

 

  1. Head for shade

When out and about be mindful of how long you are staying in the sun, especially during the middle of the day. Don’t push yourself if you start to feeling hot or tired and take a break and relax in the shade.

 

  1. Invest in a fan

It’s never a good thing when your sleep gets interrupted because of humid nights. It’s important that we get our rest! Fans can be an excellent solution to this problem.  Tower fans are usually good as they are not pushing hot air around, and they are not too expensive.

  1. Relax

Last but not least, relax! One of the worse things that you can do in hot weather is exhaust yourself. Its only natural that you are going to have busy schedules, and that combined with hot weather can be a dangerous mix, especially if sleep has been disturbed during the night. The most important thing you can do is recognise when you are feeling a little depleted and take a break, head for shade and have a drink.

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I hope these few tips have been helpful,

Hope you all enjoy the sun, stay safe.

Thanks for reading,

Becky 🙂

 

 

Fathers Day, Thank you Dad

Hello, happy father’s day everyone! Today I have decided to talk about my dad.

There is no mistake that everyone in my family was effected when I was first diagnosed with epilepsy, but for my Dad I think it was a little different. I saw a type of fear in his eyes, I was his only daughter and up until that point he had been able to protect me from everything  I had feared, and now I was facing something massive that neither of us could control.

I know my parents didn’t have a clue what was happening when I had my first seizure at 14. As I have mentioned in a previous post, my dad noticed that my lips went blue straight after I fell unconscious, believing that I was choking he put his finger in my mouth a bid to clear my airways. This is when the seizure began. Obviously I bit his finger and he needed stitches. I was horrified when I discovered what happened – probably more than I was about the seizure.  (note: don’t put fingers etc. in people’s mouths when they are have a seizure, you’ll be sorry)

Over the years my dad has been a huge support to me from being; my taxi, my counsellor, my mentor, my mechanic, my handyman,  my friend,  my father. There is no one quite like him. He will do the utmost to support his family. He has always put my health and wellbeing as a high priory, something which can hard to recognise as a teenager, but today with controlled epilepsy I cannot help but look to

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Thought this years card was apt!

my Dad and thank him for everything, as I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without his love and support.

 

Thanks for reading,

Becky 🙂

Celebrities with Epilepsy

As I have mentioned in previous posts,  a few years ago I was feeling a little isolated  with regards to my epilepsy.

In a bid to see how achievable a full and exciting life can be, I decided to Google celebrities who had been dealt the same hand as myself. I was a little reluctant to do so, afraid of what I may find.  Many people with epilepsy have a certain stigma attached to them, in that they may not be as intelligent as others – which we all know is a myth, or worse, that epilepsy has connections with madness, an even older myth.

I have overheard conversations of people discussing how they believe epilepsy is connected with insanity. It really hurts to listen to it, knowing that they couldn’t be more wrong. This was one of the reasons that I was a little afraid to research this topic. I was expecting a tiny list, where celebrities of the past were too afraid to be open about their diagnosis.

You can only imagine my amazement when I discovered the full list of famous people with epilepsy throughout history. It’s a list that includes names of leaders, inventors, writers, artists and musicians. Many of whom I had admired all my life.

I have compiled a list of their names and here it is, dating from 500BC to the present day:

  • Pythagoras (570BC – 495BC)
  • Socrates (470BC – 399BC)
  • Aristotle (384BC – 322BC)
  • Alexander the Great (356BC – 323BC)
  • Julius Caesar (100BC – 44BC)
  • Alfred the Great (849 – 899)
  • Michelangelo (1475 – 1519)
  • Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • Charles V of Spain (1500 – 1558)
  • Louis XIII of France (1601 – 1643)
  • Sir Isaac  Newton  (1643-1727)
  • George Frederick Handel (1685 – 1759)
  • Peter the Great (1672 – 1725)
  • James Madison (1751 – 1836) 4th U.S. President in 1816 potentially he had epilepsy suffering from attacks which were similar, Madison wrote that he had “a constitutional tendency to sudden attacks somewhat resembling epilepsy which suspended all intellectual function…. They continued throughout my life with prolonged intensity”
  • Paul I Russia (1754 – 1801)
  • Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)
  • Nicolo Paganini (1782 – 1840)
  • Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)
  • Hector Berlioz (1803 – 1869)
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)
  • Robert Schuman (1810 – 1856)
  • Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)
  • Fyoder Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881)
  • Lewis Carroll (1832 – 1898)
  • Alfred Nobel (1833 – 1896)
  • Peter Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)
  • Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)
  • Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976)
  • Bud Abbott (1895 – 1974)
  • George Gershwin (1898 – 1937)
  • Truman Capote (1924 – 1984)
  • Richard Burton (1925 – 1984)
  • Neil Young (1945-)
  • Danny Glover (1947-) Actor
  • Margaux Hemmingway (1955-1996)
  • Prince (1958-2016)
  • Hugo Weaving (1960-)
  • Susan Boyle (1961-)
  • Lil Wayne (1982-)
  • Dai Greene (1986-)

Next time when you hear someone say something a little in insensitive or you have a day where you feel that nothing is possible, just remember this list of people who achieved amazing things despite their medical issues and ignored what others must have said to them.

Some used their experiences to their advantages and incorporated it into their writing giving us famous and  now beloved works.

I do not doubt that throughout history having epilepsy must have been hugely concerning especially without the medical knowledge and medication that we have today.

This only in-grains my belief that if they could tackle life and still achieve their dreams, so can we.

Thanks for reading,

Becky 🙂

 

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My Journey: 2017

My Journey: 2017

Over the past few days I have heard and read hundred stories relating to other people’s 2017, each one unique to the individual.

For me, my past year has been one of personal growth. Never in one year have I learnt more about myself, and this New Year’s Day is unusual as for the first time I am looking forward to the year ahead rather than dreading it.

This journey of self- growth began on New Year’s 2017. I was recently out of work and gloomily looking toward January. No one likes being unemployed, and other people’s advice didn’t help my situation. They insisted that careers and money were paramount and that’s what I should be perusing. I didn’t completly disagree with them, but they wanted me to walk straight into another career that I was unhappy with. Inside, I knew I wanted to help people, as I mentioned in a previous post of epilepsy and the work place. I was disappointed by my last job, they’d received the news of my epilepsy poorly even when I explained it wasn’t an issue. It had been the first job I’d had since my epilepsy was fully controlled, I never thought it would be and an issue, I could even drive! So, I was disappointed to find that other people’s lack of education was still making me sad. I thought about everyone else who must be experiencing the same every single day. This was my first inspiration to help others. I wanted to do something to help, but I wasn’t sure what.

In that same January, a Facebook friend shared this video, it was exactly what I needed at that moment in time:

It’s so rare to find a video that reaches to you. It reassured me and ignited hope. It gave me the inspiration that I required to start some important work. Some of which is the work you are reading now.

By the February, I had set up my Blog, ArdentJourneys and became a volunteer with Epilepsy Action, all with the aim to help, inspire and to raise awareness about epilepsy.

You may be wondering if you have only read the title of the video, ‘Talks by Professor Noel Fitzpatrick’, how could you be inspired to create a blog etc. after watching a video? However his motivational talk highlighted to me that helping others and perusing your dreams was far more important than pursuing any trivial material wealth. In his opening lines he said;

‘I’m going to try and change your minds a little bit, it would be rude of me not to. What I really want to try and do is focus hard on where you’re going with your journey and why should it matter to you?…In a society ever more divorced of what matters… Dream as if today is your last day on earth. What if that dream came true? You have to dream big, and you have to have a reason big enough.’

It was if this video landed in my life at the perfect moment, showing me the right direction.

From that moment, I began to listen to myself and set my own goals that I wanted to achieve rather than society. Without question, during 2017, I have been truly happy and content within myself and that has been a huge achievement.

Sometimes I wonder what might have happened over this past year if I hadn’t come across that video. It certainly provided me with the push I required.

As I found it such an inspiration to me last year, it is my New Year’s gift to you, and I hope it brings you equal amounts of motivation.

I have been overwhelmed by the response I have received in 2017 for my humble blog, thank you to every one for your support. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts, follow me, and email me, it means so much!

I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.

I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year,

Thanks for reading,

Becky 🙂

How Much Does Epilepsy Affect Our Family? Part 1 – My Brother

How Much Does Epilepsy Affect Our Family? Part 1 – My Brother

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and even though they can get on our nerves sometimes, we always love them. We can also never forget that having epilepsy doesn’t just affect us personally, but it also has a profound impact on the people that we are closest to. We can sometimes forget that they can worry just as much or more about our health and welfare than we do.

So I have decided to have a heart-to-heart with different members of my family to see how my epilepsy has affected them. I’ve begun with my younger brother, as I was keen to see how he really felt about the experience of my first seizure to being diagnosed with epilepsy a few months later. I always thought it must have been very difficult for him as he was only ten years old at the time. Yes we’ve reflected on these events, but I have never been brave enough to ask him how he felt.

Here’s our interview:

Can you remember the day that I had my first seizure?

Yes, it was a sunny, summers day, we had not long finished dinner and I was eating desert with Rich (our other brother) in the Livingroom. You had been unwell all day; we thought you might have had a stomach bug. Mum and Dad were in the bathroom looking after you, and I suddenly heard a loud cry from Dad. He was screaming out to Mum that you were biting his finger *. Dad then asked Rich to fetch our neighbour who was a paramedic – he was out, and Mum was phoning for the emergency services.

The paramedics quickly arrived and disappeared into the bathroom to help you, I then finally saw you been taken out on a wheelchair, wearing an oxygen mask and looking disorientated. I was confused and worried, I didn’t know what had actually happened or whether you would be the same again.

I followed you up the drive to where the ambulance was parked, and at this point Grandad had arrived and was now diverting traffic. Dad went into the ambulance with you and mum followed. I was looked after by Grandma and Grandad.

I was relieved when I eventually found out that you would be ok.

 

Did my first seizure come as a surprise to you or had there been warning signs?

No, I was completely surprised, I thought you just had a stomach bug.

 

Can you remember when I diagnosed with epilepsy? How did you feel? What did you think?

No I can’t really remember it, I just accepted it, but I can remember Mum teaching me first aid and how to look after you if you were unwell.

 

What has been the most daunting experience about having a relative with epilepsy?

As a child, it didn’t really upset me, but being an adult, I fully appreciate that it is a serious condition and that worries me sometimes.

 

Has there been an aspect that has been positive?

Having a sister with epilepsy I find that I have good knowledge and empathy about the condition when I learn that others have it.

 

What advice would you give someone who has a relative with epilepsy?

Make life as relaxing and easy as possible for them and help them to avoid their triggers.

 

I am glad that I had this conversation with my brother, as he is the youngest in the family I have often worried that he found my epilepsy the hardest to accept, but on reflection of this interview I think that by being brought up with it, he has embraced and it’s now normal to him.

Naturally there are times that he will worry, I would instantly remove my epilepsy for him to eliminate this, yet I have strong memories of him caring for me when there was no one else around, and although I was panged with guilt, at the same time his caring nature was greatly needed and appreciated. I believe this may have helped shape him be the immensely, compassionate individual that he has become today.

I look forward to sharing the other iterviews!

I hope this has shed some light onto how epilepsy has its impact on so many other people, not just the person who has been diagnosed.

Thanks for reading!

Becky 🙂

 

 

 

*(TIP: DO NOT PUT FINGERS ETC. IN PEOPLES MOUTHS IF THEY ARE HAVING A SEIZURE! My Dad, like my brother didn’t know what was wrong, I fell unconscious with blue lips. My dad in his panic thought I was chocking and decided to try and clear my mouth with his finger as the seizure began… I was mortified when I found out!)

My First Childhood Hero

I have planned to periodically write about people who have inspired me.

There are many role models in my life, which include both world-renowned legends and treasured family members. I love discovering new people who inspire me and I look forward to sharing the varying characters with you.

By the way, my list of role models expands continually. I think you can never have too many people to look up to.

The person I am going to write about today was the first person I can truly remember looking up to as a child and aspiring to be like in the future.

I am sure many of you have already guessed who I am about to write about as this day is particularly poignant for them (31/08/2017).

This person is Princess Diana.

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Even though I was only a small child when she passed away, I has always saw her face on the news and in the papers. Although my parents sheltered me from the difficulties that she was dealing with in the early nineties. From my point of view – as a child, I always saw Diana as the princess; of course she would always be in the paper.

After Diana sadly passed away, I soon discovered that there was a little bit more to Diana than I originally knew. I naturally became curious to learn more about her, so my Mum bought me a little Ladybird book about her.I adored that book.

 

I couldn’t believe how many lives she had altered. I learnt about her selfless nature to help others, the fact that she was a devoted mother…and had the best dresses in the world! For me as a little girl she seemed like the perfect hero, who oozed unconditional love. I could not find anything I didn’t like about her.

808268-diana-and-harry

Looking back, I think it’s an unusual thing, to be a young child and be inspired by such a strong influential woman, who was committed to helping others and make a good impression on the world. This is something that has stayed with me through to adulthood; Princess Diana is still a powerful influence on my life, as I believe she is for millions of other people.

Twenty years on, people still remember and miss her.

There are very few people in this world that are huge positive influencers, making great changes to the world, breaking down stigmas, and that help and support anyone who needs it.

I am glad that I had Princess Diana was my first role model, I believe she is the best person a child could look up to.

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Becky 🙂

 

Is the Grass Always Greener On The Other Side?

Is the Grass Always Greener On The Other Side?

We have all heard the idiom, ‘the grass is always green on the other side’. I think many of us have experienced pangs of envy when we believe other people are achieving more than us or getting further in life.

But as I am the type of person who enjoys observing and listening to others, I learnt long ago that no one’s life is perfect, and know that there is no such thing as a perfect life. Life will throw obstacles in your way and you have to get around them. But I think that many believe that life should be one easy road and give up at the first hurdle.

There have been increasing occasions where I’ll be at a friend or relatives house. They’ll be a feeling a little low, and will tell me about their worries, whether its financial, career etc. then they will refer to another friend or relative and dreamily mention how they admire some aspect of their lives saying how they’ve got it, ‘all sorted out’.

But little do they know that those people they wistfully mention also possess many problems (because they tell me), and they do the same thing, either by mentioning about others that they think have a perfect life – or they refer back to the original person, admiring a part of their life.

It’s like a big circle!  (I don’t say anything as I’m not going to betray trust), but in these increasingly occurring situations I don’t know whether to find the situation funny or sad.

I imagine lining up the whole group of interconnected family and friends and telling them one by one the amazing things that everyone else admires about them.

I think this is something that we frequently overlook. We see people achieving things that we hope for, but we often ignore amazing accomplishments that we have made ourselves, and don’t believe for one second that someone else would want to be in our shoes.

So, is the grass always greener on the other side? No, it isn’t, it’s purely down to the way you view the world. You can’t look at another person and assume that they are happier as you’re only looking at the part of their life that you want to look at. Their best part, which is nice I guess.

But, if you constantly consider people around you to be more successful and happier, then naturally it will tear away at you. I have known people who have been so focused on what others are achieving that they don’t pay enough attention to their own happiness, and that’s the crux of the matter. It doesn’t matter what you’re achieving or what you possess, it’s whether you are happy.

Don’t think for one moment that you must have your life sorted out. I believe the best thing you can do in life is to be happy, let go of the petty everyday problems, appreciate everything in everyday and love everyone in your life.

Thanks for reading!

Becky 🙂

Epilepsy and The World of Work

Epilepsy and The World of Work

Today, I thought I would share with you some experiences of epilepsy in the workplace.

Entering the world of work when you have epilepsy can seem like a daunting task, as a teenager I didn’t worry too much about it. I took my first job working in a chemist, while I was studying…safe place to be 🙂

My manager was excellent, and she also taught me that it’s never too late to change a career as she qualified as a pharmacist in her 40s after bringing up her family.

At university and I was glad to find that all my lecturers and friends were also very supportive when they learnt about my epilepsy.

So… I naively thought that my future workplaces would be the same.

Since leaving university I have had a couple of jobs, and I have received mixed responses to epilepsy.

My manager at my first job after uni gave no empathy when I had been unwell and required a day or two off work, he just gave pressure for me to return. When I did, he said, “This better not become a regular occurrence.”  About a year later another colleague was taken on, and when I had the courage to tell him that I had epilepsy I was hugely relieved as he had personal experiences with epilepsy, and wasnt phased by the condition at all. It was good to know that there was someone there if I needed them.

My most recent job shocked me the most. I faced a difficult decision of whether to mention my epilepsy at the interview stage, I decided to remain silent as I was afraid it would ruin my chances of getting the job. But, I got the job!…obviously.

Weeks later, there were talks of me potentially travelling with the company, thoughts of travel insurance and things were bothering me, so I decided to have a chat with my manager and tell him about my epilepsy. He didn’t take it the news well. Although he didn’t say anything bad, he went red, his eyes darted rapidly back and forth for the remainder of the conversation, no matter how many times I told him, ‘it’s mild’, ’It’s controlled’ etc. Things were never the same after that, he didn’t chat to me the same, I think he had become afraid of me in some way, and where we’re originally getting along so well, things had become tense and awkward.

What’s more, I discovered that nearly all my colleagues in the company had very old-fashioned views when it came to epilepsy, I heard them gossiping and laughing about another co-worker, thinking that all seizures are triggered by flashing lights or worse, that it had connections with insanity.  It was this moment that I realised that I could never be open and honest with my colleagues about my epilepsy as they were just not educated enough about the subject, and I was afraid of their judgements.

This company was the biggest that I had worked for, but its employees were the most unprofessional and closed-minded that I had ever seen and it shocked me. The experience at that company has been  the inspiration to this blog as I think it’s important to support people with epilepsy when they’re having a rough time and its vital reach as many people who don’t know about enough about epilepsy to stop stigmas.

 

My advice for work is to find something that makes you truly happy.

Doing a job you love, with colleagues you are also supportive of you.

 

You can find more tips and advice about epilepsy and the workplace at Epilepsy Society

Thanks for reading,

Becky 🙂