Be having fewer seizures
Have improved mental health
Be at lower risk of an epilepsy related injury or death
Have greater opportunity for workforce participation
Have an increased quality of life
I experienced violent seizures every night and felt exhausted, upon waking - like I’d just run a marathon. I struggled to get up for school each morning and when I did make it into the classroom, I struggled to concentrate. I had difficulty learning. I had difficulty socialising. Seizures took over my life.
I thought I would have to live like this forever. That I wouldn’t be able to go to university or have a normal life, until I met Professor Graeme Jackson at The Austin. He found the tiny part of my brain causing my seizures. He told me surgery was an option. The decision to have surgery was difficult as an 18-year-old, but it was the best decision. It changed my life.
2019 marked the five-year anniversary of the pioneering brain surgery that changed my life from the debilitating effects of my epilepsy. Freeing me from the constant seizures that had dominated my life as a teenager.I’m now living independently. A life I didn’t imagine would ever be possible. I completed my Bachelor of Education. I drive and hope to soon secure a fulltime teaching position.
My experience living with epilepsy has led me to become involved with the Australian Epilepsy Project (AEP) as a Lived Experience Ambassador, contributing important insights from a patient’s perspective into the design and development of the pilot study. It doesn't seem right that I’m just one of the lucky ones, everyone should have access to this type of treatment.
Four years later, in 2013, I was at work and I felt a weird twitching in my left eye and saw a line of colours. This was my warning. I told my boss to call an ambulance. I woke sore, bruised and with a dislocated shoulder after what I later learned was another tonic clonic seizure. I went back to the Austin, had more advanced testing and this time I was diagnosed with epilepsy. This changed my life so much, I had to stop driving again and playing competitive basketball. The constant worry of when and where I will have another seizure played on my mind. I was given the opportunity with the Melbourne Brain Centre to trial a new drug, Eslicarbazepine, that was legal in Europe but still being trialled in Australia. I was checked up on frequently for seizure activity and mood.
It’s now been seven years and I have been seizure free the whole time. I feel less stressed about having any more seizures now as I know the drugs are controlling my epilepsy. Sometimes when I’m stressed, a get a black dot in my left eye, I feel this is a warning, so I take time out to rest and look after myself.
I am now 32, married and have three kids aged five, three and seven months and a challenging job directing film/tv and commercials. Life is stressful with a young family and demanding career, but in a different kind of way, a much better way than before my epilepsy was controlled. The Melbourne Brain Centre has given me an opportunity I don’t think I could have gotten from any hospital in Melbourne at the time. I fully support the Australian Epilepsy Project in making this possible for more people like me. I want others to have the same access to treatment that I was afforded for which I and my family are so very grateful.
The Australian Epilepsy Project is made possible through the combined support of The Florey and University of Melbourne.
The Australian Epilepsy Project (AEP) receives funding from the Australian Government under the Medical Research Future Fund.