Tackling fear of epilepsy

Tamra CarrThe West Australian

Between pre-primary and Year 1, nine-year-old Geraldton Primary School student Kristy-Lee Percy was experiencing up to 150 seizures a day.

She then underwent 31/2 hours of brain surgery, during which a neurosurgeon drained a build-up of fluid and repositioned her brain.

Now, three years later, Kristy-Lee’s seizures have dropped to about six a week.

Her mother Jodie Percy said despite the tough times it’s not all doom and gloom when you find out your child has epilepsy.

“Kristy-Lee was first diagnosed almost five years ago, after her teacher thought she was daydreaming a lot in class,” Mrs Percy said.

“The school recommended we see a doctor, so we took her to a neurologist in Perth and after an MRI and brain studies, they came back with epilepsy.

“When we first found out, we were extremely lost.

“She was having four different types of seizures.

“She would have absence seizures, deja vu situations where her brain would flick her back to something that has already happened, sleep seizures and drop seizures.”

Despite struggling with repeated loss of awareness, Kristy-Lee is an active Year 4 student, representing her school in netball, taking part in sport carnivals, singing in the school choir, swimming at the beach, riding her bike and has aspirations to be a schoolteacher and bus driver.

Mrs Percy said Kristy-Lee was about to start T-ball and loved spending time with her friends and siblings. “She’s just such a sociable person, she always has a smile on her face,” she said.

“There’s a staff member that works in the office at Geraldton Primary and whenever she has a bad day, she actually goes and sees Kristy-Lee because she’s always smiling.”

In the midst of epilepsy awareness month, Mrs Percy is making a call for specialised support services to be brought to Geraldton for epileptics and families who need information and resources.

“A lot of people think, ‘who do I talk to, where do I go’?” Mrs Percy said. “You have all these other questions too like, ‘how do I explain this to my kids’?

“The more light, information and support given to epilepsy, the less fear, stereotypes and misunderstandings their would be surrounding children and families.”

This month, Epilepsy Action Australia is calling for people to host morning and afternoon teas, called E-Tea events, to raise awareness about people living with epilepsy.

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