STARS Patient Information
When I was little I was diagnosed with epilepsy and lots of things would trigger a fit, like being sick. I had lots of medicines to try and control the fits but nothing worked.
I started with attacks when I was a toddler and it wasn’t until I was twelve and became very ill that finally mum became impatient with the hospital and asked for me to be referred to a specialist. We visited a consultant in Sheffield and he told us it was Reflex Anoxic Seizures. As well as the RAS attacks, I suffered a lot of joint pains in my ankles, knees and wrists. Some days it would hurt so much that I could barely walk or hold a pen. I had always enjoyed school and sports, but over the years I did have a lot of time off due to the attacks leaving me feeling very tired. Often I would only do half a day at school. When I have an attack I do not feel it or remember anything about it, but it does upset me and makes me frightened. My consultant is very nice and he was the one who gave mum the information on STARS charity. My family is very protective of me and get nervous when I become ill with even a cold; but they are also very supportive and help me to strive in anything I want to do.
When I was well, and people understood that it was reflex anoxic seizures I was having, I started to help my granddad Johnson, who is the president of the local running club. He would ask me to help out on race days selling raffle tickets or selling refreshments in the kiosk. When I felt well I would go on to the track or field and help out with the younger athletes. It wasn’t until I was 12 that I would train with my granddad and the young athletes. Sometimes I would race for the club or do a small local fun run. I never came first but enjoyed just being there running, being part of something and even enjoyed being in the mud too!
Late last year and early this year in 2007, I became very ill again, and the attacks came back stronger than they had done for a number of years. I had two months off school but still managed to sit my GCSEs in Maths, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Product Design and gained 2 A* and 3 As. My family was very nervous for me because they were worried that I would not manage; but I did! My granny Smith helped me to revise and she learnt a lot too!
I was put forward to be a ‘Champion of Excellence through Diversity’, which is an award that is given to someone who has succeeded despite having many obstacles put in their way. I was awarded the prize and attended a function with the Mayor of Rotherham and his wife. My mum cried, and my dad was very proud. The evening was lovely and there were many other children who had worked hard to overcome their difficulties too.
Since then I have picked myself up again, continuing with my exams and doing some running at Rotherham Harriers Athletics Club, who have been a great support. For the past couple of years I have tried to enter the Junior Great North run, held at Gateshead, Newcastle. I was so pleased to have an entry number in May and decided to get people to sponsor me to help raise money, so in turn I could help more children like me. I'm really glad I was able to do it as I have raised a lot of money for charity. Currently we are at £500 and still counting. The day was amazing and I really enjoyed it. I am just glad I could do it. The feeling on the day of the run was one of excitement but I was also scared. There were so many people at the race but there was no feeling of competition between us as we were all out there to have run and raise money for various charities. Just before we started we all did a warm up together which was great fun and the red arrows flew over head leaving red, white and blue stripes above us as we ran. At the end of the race we were treated like ‘stars’ as we received a silver blanket to get warm and a huge medal which has both of the bridges on that I ran over and the race details. I ran it in 23 minutes 48 seconds. I have family in Consette, Durham and my aunty Freda helped us to get to the race and gave us a bed for the night to recover! Just before the race I received an email from Doug Henderson the fundraising manager of STARS. I was really pleased to receive his email and he even sent me an official STARS Fundraiser t-shirt; which you can see me wearing on the photos! It made lots of people ask about STARS too. I have also just finished doing a raffle to raise more money and at the moment I have collected over £100 from this. It is surprising what a little effort can do.
Soon I will be going to the Yorkshire Heart Hospital in Leeds to have a loop recorder fixed to my heart to trace what is happening when I have attacks. To keep me fit and strong I will continue to keep busy down at the athletics club.
My goal was to run in the Junior Great North Run since I was about 8 years old and I would have never believed that I would have been there. It is still hard to believe that I was actually running over the Millennium Bridge, with everyone clapping and shouting the runners on. If you keep focused and positive I have found that you can accomplish anything no matter how far away or how difficult it may be some days. My new goal is to complete the Great North Run in two years time with my dad and after this the London Marathon; raising more money for the people who have supported me and my family.
Having something to aim at keeps your mind and body strong.