Interview EP02

Age at interview: 20
Age at diagnosis: 14
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with epilepsy in 1996. Seizures have been controlled since 2000. Current medication' Epilim ( sodium valproate), and Lamictal (lamotrigine).
Background: Student; single and no children.

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Gemma describes what happens when she has an absence in the middle of conversation and how...

Gemma describes what happens when she has an absence in the middle of conversation and how...

And it was a pain because I could either think or I could speak but I couldn't do both, which made it really difficult to have a conversation with me. I was once babysitting with my friend, I think I was about 15 or 16 at the time, and she asked me a question and apparently it was five minutes before I answered her. I didn't realise it was five minutes, but that's what she said.  So basically she'd been sitting there, I hadn't answered her and she'd been sitting there and then suddenly I answered this question and because my answer just sounded so random she was like 'What?' 

There were the petit-mals when my eyes flickered and  sometimes they could do it really, really badly, so badly that I couldn't actually see anything.  I had to close my eyes because it hurt and it was really strange because even then I would get this same feeling of helplessness and be really emotional and I'd burst into tears over anything. But I couldn't help it, it just  came with it and it was so annoying. The grand-mals were the actual fits and so there were different types. 

So yeah, that was one of my bigger stresses, rather than the fits. The fits were annoying, the eye flickering was really, really annoying because I couldn't control it, never could I control it and it would happen sometimes and I wouldn't know it, but other people could see it. 


Explains that gaining weight was preferable to having seizures.

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Explains that gaining weight was preferable to having seizures.

But then I got a new doctor and she said oh why don't we try Epilim and I said 'Ah, but I've heard that Epilim makes you put on weight.'  And she goes its not that it makes you put on weight, its that it makes you feel more hungry, which is true. I could lie and say 'Oh yes I tried Epilim and no I didn't put any weight on,' but I did, I put on about two stone I think, which I am still trying to lose. But then again that could have something to do with the fact that my brother died because that made me put on weight too. 

So I put on weight but I think it was better that I went on the Epilim because I haven't had a fit since. They slowly lowered the topiramate until I was no longer on it and also cut down the lamotrigine so that I could take the Epilim. So I think that if I had the choice again, if they were saying 'What would you prefer to stay on, the topiramate and to not have taken Epilim and to have stayed at your you know ideal weight; or would you prefer to take the Epilim and go up two stone?' I would still go with the Epilim because I would rather not have any fits than be like a skinny little insect. So, that's my choice.

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