Wednesday 14 March 2012

Being in the driving seat

For most people with Epilepsy, regardless of what type of Epilepsy we have, there is one common worry that comes up over and over again.

- Driving.

It's true that passing your driving test and getting a car is a right of passage for anyone in their late teens or even in life, that people make a statement through what car they drive, get a huge amount of freedom from not being limited by where they can go.
It is a huge blow to anyone then, that you would know they won't have the chance to experience this freedom, or even worse experience it and have it taken away. You can't easily carry heavy luggage or personal belongings certain places, access remote areas or get somewhere as quickly as you would because of having to use public transport.

I had my licence removed twice, I thought after my first seizure that took me out of the police that going 14 months clear could have meant that my seizure was a one off. Unfortunately it wasn't.

But the thing about being in the driving seat in life, is that is doesn't necessarily involve a car.

Taking control of your life that involves being in the driving seat, it not something which is related to milestones, it's not related to other's milestones, it's about an individual understanding what they are capable of and seizing it.

People with Epilepsy have very individual experiences of the condition, some are severe, some involve a normal life with medication, some even involve a normal life after surgery. So how you take control is different, but each individual achievement can be incredible. For some just being employed, could more of an achievement than a non-disabled person running a marathon.

You don't need to be an Olympian to have achieved something great.

But the spectrum of Epilepsy remains the same, it can be severe, it can be very mild or even controlled. But like the technology constantly changing in cars, it constantly changes in Neurology too. I never thought when I was younger that my Epilepsy would be controlled, but here I am 22 years later and seizure free for almost 2 years. The good news is that research into cures for different kinds of Epilepsy are so fast moving, it makes the car industry look like a snail standing next to Usain Bolt.

One thing people don't always think about is that, cars can be a drain too rather than a help. Having a Freedom Pass in London allows people with Epilepsy to travel through the city for free. A drastic contrast to able bodied people who may be stuck in traffic, after buying their car, tax disk, insurance and petrol at an ever increasing price.

This unfortunately is not the same across the board and is not as well provided for in much of the rest of the UK, but I believe we will get to a point where it is, as well as developing new research into Epilepsy cures.

That's a destination you don't need a car to be in the driving seat to reach, you reach it by working together to campaign, to raise awareness and raise funds for new research and progress.

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