Saturday 31 January 2015


Reader Kellie didn't understand why she was getting into trouble at school… until she was diagnosed with Petit Mal epilepsy...

Kellie says:
I don't know when the Petit Mal started, but it was probably when I was eight or nine. I started getting into trouble in class. I wasn't sure why, but my teacher told me I was insolent, had a bad attitude. Sometimes, in dance class, the teacher would shout at me for not paying attention, for stopping short in the middle of something.

All I knew was that sometimes I disappeared… just vanished, went away. I couldn't explain it and I thought it was just my imagination, because at nine years old I knew you couldn't really just 'vanish'. It was a strange feeling, but I imagined it was something that happened to everyone. Then one morning I was getting ready for school when the vanishing thing happened again; when I came back to myself, Mum was yelling at me, tearful, asking me why I was being so rude, so obstinate. It turned out she'd been asking me to get ready and I'd just been sitting there, staring, completely ignoring her. I started to cry too, and I tried to tell her about the vanishing, and that seemed to scare her. That afternoon she took me to the doctor's and he said he was pretty sure I had a thing called Petit Mal epilepsy.

Getting a proper diagnosis took ages. We had to wait for a series of hospital appointments, and by then I was getting 'vanishing' episodes twenty or more times every day. I'd be reading out in class, or doing something in gym, maybe talking to friends… and suddenly I'd go still and silent and blank. I'd 'wake up' and find people shaking me, or cross at being ignored. I wasn't allowed to take my cycling proficiency test because I blanked out in the middle of riding and fell; once I stopped in the middle of a zebra crossing and 'woke up' to find all the cars beeping at me. Pretty soon, I wasn't allowed to do anything in case I had a blank-out.

At the hospital, I was given an EEG test with wires and sensors stuck all over my head. The doctor flashed strobe lights at me and measured how many times I blanked out. Afterwards, I was told I had Petit Mal epilepsy and put on meds to control the episodes. I hated taking them… I was only nine and Mum had to make sure I remembered… but gradually, the blank-outs stopped. I didn't tell my friends what was happening… I thought they'd judge me or laugh at me. If I went on a sleepover, I'd hide in the bathroom and take my pills there. I just desperately wanted to be normal. I'm fourteen now, and two months ago I was able to come off the tablets. The doctors want to see if I have grown out of the Petit Mal, and so far it seems that I have. I am so relieved not to have to take the meds any more, and also very grateful that the blank-outs haven't come back, because I know more about epilepsy now and I understand how serious it can be. I'm glad it's all behind me now, but I'll never forget the days when I used to be able to disappear…

Picture posed by model Lois: many thanks!

Cathy says:
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  1. I'm so glad it over for you!!!
    It must of been horrible

  2. I have epilepsy. Or I used to have epilepsy. Technically there isn't any cure, but there are drugs like carbamazapine. I was taking carbamazapine for years. When I first had a epileptic attack I went to hospital and my doctors thought it was a freak incident,but when I was walking out into the hospitl car park I just stopped (I know this because my mum told me about afterwards) and fell backwards. My dad had to catch me and take me back into hospital again. I ended up spending a week there. I had several more attacks over the years.Thankfully I was taken of carbamazapine a year ago and have not had a epileptic attack since.



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