Living with epilepsy: Shelby's story

Anita Kirkbright, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian

Shelby Kennedy was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 11 when she had absence seizures.

A seizure, a disruption to the normal pattern of electrical impulses in the brain, can cause changes in sensation, awareness and behaviour.

At 15, Ms Kennedy began having generalised seizures after suffering a blow to the head while playing basketball.

Now 24, she has been seizure-free for eight years.

She said the key to living with epilepsy was to find a good doctor and educate yourself on the condition.

“Epilepsy doesn’t need to be a sad story,” Ms Kennedy said.

“I have a good doctor who helped get my condition under control and helped me find a way to do the things I want to do in a way that will work for me.”

Louise Clarke from Epilepsy Action Australia (Perth) was in Geraldton last week to give a workshop on epilepsy to sufferers, family members and health professionals.

She said EAA received a lot of calls for advice from people who were concerned about managing another person’s seizure.

“It’s best for us to work with the person who has epilepsy,” Ms Clarke said.

“Learning to self-manage their condition, getting good education and empowering themselves, as well as educating their family and friends, is very important.”

Ms Clarke said seizures, which could involve convulsions, muscle spasms or loss of consciousness, lasted between one and three minutes and did not always require ambulance attendance.

She said bystanders should not try to hold down someone having a seizure, but should minimise harm by placing something soft under the person’s head and moving hard objects out of their way.

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