Dad wants to break stigma of epilepsy

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A Mirfield dad who has epilepsy is encouraging others with the condition to be open about it.

Rob MacDonald, 37, is keen to share his story after Epilepsy Action revealed in a recent poll that many who suffer from it feel they will be discriminated against if they speak up.

This comes after Purple Day on March 26 – a campaign aimed at persuading people across the world to share their experiences and help break down stigma.

Mr MacDonald said: “I first developed epilepsy in the mid-1980s when I was around seven. I had a sledging accident in which I knocked myself out. Shortly after that I had two tonic-clonic seizures. Following that I was put on epilepsy medication, Epilim. However, I had no more seizures and was taken off medication a couple of years later.

“I had no more epileptic seizures again, as far as I know, until 2013 when I was 34. Out of nowhere, I had three seizures in a few weeks.”

Rob was put back on Epilim but, not feeling himself, after around 18 months he asked to try a different medication.

For the last 16 months he has taken Keppra but still has around one tonic-clonic seizure – the most common type for people with epilepsy, which affects the entire brain – every year.

Rob’s epilepsy means he sometimes loses concentration or the ability to read or write for short periods. This seems to happen more whilst using a computer, which affects his job as a BBC software engineer in Salford. Only 33 per cent of people with the condition feel comfortable speaking to their employer about it, according to Epilepsy Action.

Rob said his biggest frustration now is the time it is taking to find a solution. “I’m now three years into this second period of having epilepsy and yet I don’t feel much closer to having it under control.”