Did you know, there are currently over 1,000 people on the Isle of Man suffering from some form of epilepsy. Worldwide, this figure increases to 60 million.
Epilepsy, a central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, can be as a result of a head injury, a side effect from other neurological conditions, genetics, and sometimes for no apparent reason whatsoever.
Some sufferers ‘grow out of it’, and some will live with it for the rest of their lives.
Last year, local lady Selina Hunter tragically lost her life to epilepsy. Her sister, Anne Dooley, along with the rest of her family are raising money and awareness around epilepsy in memory of Selina.
We heard from Anne about Selina and her next challenge, the Parish Walk.
My sister Selina was the youngest of 5 children, and we grew up on Onchan. Selina and I were very close and we shared a room from an early age.
When Selina was six years old, she fell off her bicycle outside our house and although a minor accident, Selina shortly afterwards started showing signs of epilepsy.
It took quite some time for the epilepsy to be diagnosed, from what we can recollect it may have taken as long as 4 years.
Selina was eventually diagnosed with nocturnal seizures which then was controlled by medication. Although she was on medication, Selina still (thankfully, infrequently) suffered from seizures.
Growing up, I remember Selina having a seizure and just how hard it was on her – the risk of hurting herself, the sheer energy her body went through and the extreme tiredness after.
Growing up, Selina always wanted to go into a caring role and her first job was at Elder Grange Nursing Home which she loved. She then went on to work at the Nobles Hospital Blood Clinic.
Selina wanted to further her education and she undertook her degree with Chester University and then gained her masters at Leeds University in Environmental Health. This allowed Selina to move back home, where she started work with the Isle of Man Government as an Environmental Health Officer. She absolutely loved her role there and we were all extremely proud of her achievements.
Following this Selina met her fiancée John and their happiness was complete when their little girl Scarlett arrived. Selina and John were due to be married later this year and we had all been looking forward to their wedding.
Sadly, this was not to be and at the beginning of October last year we lost Selina to an epileptic seizure. She was 36 years old.
Selina had so much to look forward to and was loved by so many. She was a truly amazing partner, mother, daughter, sister and aunty.
Following Selina’s death, we contacted the Isle of Man Epilepsy Support Group for some comfort and reasoning as to why has this happened. Sudden Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) each year kills 1 in 1000 adults. There are 1000 people living with epilepsy on the Isle of Man, and Selina was tragically that 1 in 1000.
Our loss, amongst many other incidents on the Island, highlight that there is a real need for an epilepsy nurse at Nobles Hospital, as we only have a visiting consultant. I have been contacted by so many people in similar situations, who are desperate to raise their concerns and highlight the issues.
With the help the Isle of Man Epilepsy Support Group, we have set up the Selina Hunter Memorial Fund to raise funds to support sufferers of epilepsy on the Isle of Man.
I will be taking part in the Parish Walk on the 23rd June with a few of Selina’s and my friends and we are all raising funds for the charity. Our aim is to complete the course and raise as much money as possible. Selina loved the Parish Walk, she always came out to support me and always came down to the finish line.
I’ve finished the Parish Walk five times, but this year is very special as it’s all in Selina’s memory.
If you’d like to donate in support of Anne and Selina Hunter’s Memorial Fund head on over to her Just Giving page here.
There are a few charities and support groups for epilepsy on the Island;
The Manx branch of Epilepsy Action meet once a month in Coffee Republic for a coffee and chat support group. Visit their Facebook page to find out more
There is also EPSAIom who work alongside Epilepsy Action and provide education and support for anyone affected by epilepsy.