Personal Stories

My Story by Joanna

27 January 2010
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My name is Joanna Wynne and I am 30 years old. I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 27 years old, even though, I have had it all my life. I had seizures when I was a child, the last when I was 7 years old and then my epilepsy went into remission for 20 years. On the 13th of July 2004, just 2 weeks after my 27th birthday my seizures returned. I had a Tonic Clonic seizure. My world was turned upside down the day the doctor diagnosed me with epilepsy. I have also had Complex Partial and Absence Seizures, which usually happen together. I gave up drinking alcohol and had to make a lot of other changes to my lifestyle. My Mother found out about Brainwave from a booklet produced by the County Offaly CIC. Margaret Bassett from the Midland Branch of Brainwave and Sean O'Brien from FAS in Tullamore told us about TFS. I applied for the course because I was at a stage where I no longer knew where my life was heading.

I needed help. I had to leave my job. I was unemployed for eight and a half months. I talked to my family and my doctors and I came to the decision myself, that this was the first step in piecing my life back together. When Honor Broderick and Maire Tansey offered me a place on the course I was thrilled. I came into the course an emotional wreck with no confidence and I thought there was no hope for me. I wanted a job and my life back, the course was just what I needed and it has helped me to achieve my goals.

I have learned about myself i.e. Strengths, weaknesses, confidence building, learning about epilepsy and becoming independent. This time last year I could not talk about epilepsy without bursting into tears, now I can talk about it to anyone. The course helped me to figure out what career would suit me. I passed the course and the A3L foundation Certificate which is awarded by the IT. I will graduate this month. I am now studying for a BA in Early Childhood Education in IT, Sligo. I would not have dreamed of doing it before because I did not believe in myself. I have applied for my Provisional Driving Licence and have been passed medically fit to drive. I have been seizure free for over 2 years now and I take 400mg of Lamictal a day to keep it under control. I have my life back and am looking forward to the future.

I am very aware that in order to keep my epilepsy under control I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While on Training for Success I had to ensure I got plenty of sleep and had a good diet, I also had to learn to practise good time management techniques so I would not get stressed about meeting project deadlines. The Health and Fitness and Epilepsy Awareness modules helped me with this. I also joined the college Gym and used the facilities on a regular basis to maintain my physical fitness.

I want to thank everyone for their help and support through this tough time in my life, my Parents and my Family and friends, Mike Glynn of Brainwave, Honor and Maire of TFS, Margaret, Evelyn, Agnes and all the other CROs in Brainwave for their hard work and support to people with epilepsy. I would also like to thank Dr. Moorehouse, my Neurologist and Sean O'Brien from FAS in Tullamore who were a great support.

First published in Epilepsy News - Issue 40

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