Nathan experienced his first seizure in 2017, with a second following almost three years later in 2020 after flying to New Zealand. From this point, his seizures began to occur on a fortnightly cycle, eventually leading to an epilepsy diagnosis in 2021.
Most of Nathan’s tonic-clonic seizures have taken place while he is asleep. They have only recently occurred while he is awake.
“I have had a couple of focal impaired awareness seizures where I have taken a dish out of an oven without mitts, to only notice a strong burn hours later, as well as eating dinner without knowing or communicating with others at the table.”
Epilepsy has impacted a number of areas in Nathan’s life, including his career path, mental state and ability to drive.
I was diagnosed during the COVID lockdowns in Victoria and had nothing to do at the time. I was one semester away from completing a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering (Honours). I went into a depression… I felt that I had just wasted 4-5 years of my life trying to complete a degree I was likely unable to continue a career with due to an inability to drive. A lot of my passions and hobbies just felt like they were unavailable for my future. I live in a rural area that has limited public transport so I found it difficult to travel anywhere and felt I couldn’t find an engineering job that would suit me when they are in more industrial areas a fair distance away.”
After being placed on medication, Nathan did not experience any seizures for around 9-10 months and became eligible to drive. That is, until another seizure presented towards the end of 2022 during an engineering internship.
“I had to quit my internship as I was no longer able to reach the facility. I then had another two weeks later whilst I was standing for the first time. I felt that I could not be able to trust taking an engineering career path if I had no justification on what the cause of my seizures were. I needed to find a job that could utilise my engineering knowledge but still have adequate access via public transport.”
In 2023, Nathan decided to begin a Masters of Teaching (Secondary), specialising in Mathematics and Physics. He has a job at Coles on the side, though he requires his parents’ support with travelling to and from work.
“I now have a constant fear of driving again after having multiple seizures even after multiple increases of medication. I have no understanding on what triggers my seizures, so I feel something could just instantly happen.”
A lover of golf due to his interest in physics, and AFL Supercoach fantasy football, Nathan also used to be a regular blood donor – something he can no longer do.
The Epilepsy Foundation has been a source of comfort for Nathan over the years, particularly through social media.
“I’ve spent my time following the Epilepsy Foundation on Facebook, reading other’s personal stories and discovering further information about epilepsy. It makes me feel that I am not alone, and others have gone through tough situations as well.”
Nathan wants people to know that epilepsy does not discriminate and that there is more to a seizure than what may meet the eye.
“Epilepsy can develop at any age of life and not just through childhood or at an elderly age. Not all people with epilepsy experience sudden muscle jerking and spasms as seizures.”
Support people living with epilepsy, like Nathan, by registering for the Walk for Epilepsy. Visit https://www.walkforepilepsy.org.au/0AC34C to register.