Coping with epilepsy: Welwyn Garden City woman tells her story

PUBLISHED: 13:01 23 May 2009 | UPDATED: 22:27 26 October 2009

Kelly Morrin, Chrys Barton and Christina Nash

Kelly Morrin, Chrys Barton and Christina Nash

NATIONAL Epilepsy Week comes to an end today (Saturday). And, to raise awareness, one woman with epilepsy has spoken to the WHT of her experiences of the neurological condition.

NATIONAL Epilepsy Week comes to an end today (Saturday). And, to raise awareness, one woman with epilepsy has spoken to the WHT of her experiences of the neurological condition.

CHRYS Barton, a single mum from WGC, had her first seizure in February of last year.

"It came out of the blue and for no apparent reason," the 36-year-old said.

Since then, it's taken more than a year to be formally diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy.

She claimed the East and North Herts NHS Trust thought she was a "drinker" and needed "psychiatric referral".

"The only sector that has supported me since the day of my first seizure was my GP at my local doctor's surgery.

"I am forever indebted to them for not giving up on me like the hospital did."

After developing the condition Chrys had to surrender her driving licence and has not been able to work since May 2008.

She has also taught her seven-year-old daughter what to do if she has a seizure.

The Panshanger woman said: "We have had a fall alarm fitted since so it has taken some of the responsibility from her.

"The condition has rid us of our independence; I have had to learn to rely on my friends and family.

You certainly find out who your friends are over night, but because the condition receives minimal profile people are scared of it, so it is understandable why they take a step back from you.

"I cannot go anywhere unattended, I have very poor memory or can wander off unknowingly and my speech can become garbled.

"I am lucky I have good friends that are there for both myself and my daughter and help us with all of our needs.

"Hopefully my condition will eventually be managed by medication, but I know it's not going to happen overnight."

Chrys added: "It is frustrating to suddenly be struck by a condition that turns your life upside down especially when there is no known cause.

"This is the reason I felt compelled to turn a bad situation into something good and to try to stay positive instead of being in denial which is why I started the local fundraising campaign in support of Epilepsy Action."

A trust spokesman said Ms Barton's concerns were all investigated thoroughly, and at no point was it suggested she had a psychiatric condition.

He said: "Other than referring her to a psychiatrist to establish whether or not her symptoms may be stress or anxiety-

related. Equally no reference is made to alcohol being a factor."

The spokesman added doctors had felt their time with Ms Barton had gone well.

They have since written to apologise for any distress caused.

FACTFILE

* A total of 456,000 people in the UK have epilepsy - that's one in every 131.

* There are around 40 different types of seizure and a person may have more than one type.

* Every day in the UK, 75 people are diagnosed with epilepsy.

* Only 52 per cent of people with epilepsy in the UK are seizure-free. It is estimated that 70 per cent could be seizure free with the right treatment.

* One in 20 people will have a single seizure at some time in their life.

* Many people who develop epilepsy below the age of 20 will 'grow out of it' in adult life.


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