EAST Fremantle local Alyce Sala Tenna had her first epileptic seizure aged 13 when she dropped to the floor during breakfast.
Now 32, she’s learnt to live with her condition, and initially played down the impact epilepsy had on her daily life.
But then Sala Tenna opened up, saying it felt like only a short time ago she was constantly exhausted and marooned in bed.
“Your brain is so foggish from seizures and drugs you can’t even spell your name or count past one hand,” she says.
“I’d have formal social engagements like weddings, only to smash and scrape my face the day before.
“You’re so beat up people think you’re a victim of abuse.”
Things were so bad at one point, Sala Tenna contemplated suicide.
“At my worst point, when I was refused surgery, I had to wash the many unsuccessful anti-seizure drugs I’d been prescribed over the years down the toilet, otherwise I was going to take them all,” she says.
An environmental scientist who lives with her partner, Sala Tenna is determined to live as normal a life as possible.
And while she’s barred from driving and unable to do site visits, her employer is understanding.
“I do more desktop assignments,” she says.
Epilepsy is the world’s most common serious brain condition, affecting an estimated 65 million people worldwide, according to Epilepsy Action Australia.
It’s a disorder that can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age, gender, culture or background, and around 250,000 Australians live with the condition.
There’s no cure and sufferers remain on expensive medication to control the seizures; not always with success.
November is Epilepsy Awareness month and EAA is urging the public to hold E-Tea morning or afternoon tea fundraisers for research, and ongoing support for sufferers.
To find out more, or to order a free E-Tea goodie pack, go to epilepsy.org.au or call 1300 37 4537.
by JENNY D’ANGER