Over 37,000 people in Ireland live with epilepsy and actress Eva-Jane Gaffney is one of them. Eva-Jane told Dave Fanning, filling in for Ryan Tubridy, she was happily working away on her career, starring in such films as What Richard Did and Sing Street, when she discovered that she had the condition in the run up to Christmas 2016.
“My chest would tighten. I had this really vivid sense of déjà vu and things I couldn’t put my finger on and I was constantly having these things maybe six or seven times a day and I didn’t go to the doctor. I just thought it was due to Christmas time… Then on the morning of the 27th of December… I woke up to find my partner standing in front of me and he was telling me the ambulance was on the way and I had no idea what had happened but it turned out I had had a full seizure.”
Eva-Jane had never had a seizure before and didn’t even know what one was. She was rushed to hospital and told that it’s not uncommon for people to suffer a seizure once in a lifetime. She was dissatisfied with this diagnosis and pushed for more and more tests. Six months later she received the news that she had epilepsy. Describing how she felt after her seizure, Eva-Jane said,
“I was in really, really bad pain. Your muscles seize up for a couple of minutes. My whole body was very sore, my back was very sore, I had to be taken around in a wheelchair. I couldn’t walk. My balance was completely off. My eyesight was off.”
Eva-Jane says she manages her condition well by eating regularly and taking good care of herself and it’s important to her to be very open about her often misunderstood condition.
“It makes me more comfortable and more relaxed to be able to speak about it. Some people don’t like to talk about it but I have heard stories of people working with each other for ten years and then somebody having a tonic clonic seizure in an office or in a work space and no staff knowing what this was or what to do. For me, I’ve chosen to be open about it because it actually puts my mind at rest and the response from people and their support and openness has really surprised me.”
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