DOCTORS were skeptical when Beeliar local Emily Hollow began having epileptic seizures midway through year 12.
Her initial seizures were mild and occurred during sleep, but then they began happening in class.
“They were partial seizures, only I knew they were happening,” says Ms Hollow, now aged 23.
She covered them up for five months, not telling family or friends.
“I was going though year 12 and didn’t want another complication to it.”
When she finally told her parents, doctors put her symptoms down to depression and exam stress.
“The doctor said I was just fainting,” she tells the Herald.
“I have had a lot of dismissive doctors over the years. I think it was a lot to do with being female – I think if I was a boy I would have been treated differently.”
Ms Hollow eventually sought the help of a private neurologist, who was sure it was epilepsy.
Epilepsy only shows up on an electroencephalogram if a seizure occurs during the test, and it took a number of EEGs to get a result.
“One morning the neurologist rang to say he’d found a seizure in the left temporal lobe, so it was definitely temporal lobe epilepsy.”
Epilepsy WA’s on-line resources were a great help in understanding and living with the condition, Ms Hollow says.
Five years on her seizures are controlled with medication and she’s studying medicine full-time at university.
She’ll be doing the Purple Walk 4 Epilepsy with her family on Sunday March 29 to raise awareness of the condition.
“There is a lot of judgement around epilepsy,” Ms Hollow says.
“A lot of people my age think it only happens to children.”
About 26,000 West Australians live with epilepsy and there are 1400 new cases diagnosed every year.
Epilepsy WA receives no government funding, relying on donations to run its support groups and many programs including epilepsy smart schools.
Unleash your inner purple and register for the walk at purplewalk4epilepsywa.com.au or call 1300 852 853.
by JENNY D’ANGER