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ITV's 'Monroe' features epilepsy storyline
Epilepsy Society welcomed last night’s (31 March) programme 'Monroe' on ITV1, depicting a family’s struggle with the effects of epileptic seizures caused by a brain tumour. With dad suddenly beginning to experience a sense of cosmic love for the world, his family and God during his intensifying epileptic seizures, he and his family have to decide whether to go ahead with surgery which could save his life but probably take away the ‘visions’.
“This storyline may seem far fetched”, said Epilepsy Society's Medical Director, John Duncan. “But, as the medics discussed on the programme, when a tumour begins to press on the ‘limbic’ part of the brain – the area that deals with feelings and emotions – it can set off seizures that bring with them a variety of extraordinary feelings and ‘experiences’.
“Monroe talks on the programme about patients of his who have experienced smells as colours or who have mistaken their family for aliens. Pressure on the brain by a tumour can actually do this. Many people are mystified by epilepsy and a little nervous around seizures, especially if someone has unusual experiences during them. Not many people with epilepsy have the kind of extraordinary feelings during seizures that can come with a large brain tumour, but many do have unusual thoughts and feelings. It’s nothing to be scared of. It’s just the mind opening up to the things we usually only see and feel when we are deeply dreaming and mostly don’t remember,” he said.
The programme does end on a note of uncertainty. The dad eventually decides to have the operation, which seems successful, but the question then is ‘is the tumour benign?’ And the last scene is him having a dramatic seizure surrounded by his distressed family. "People should not be too alarmed by this,” said John. “It is quite common for people to have a seizure or two after brain surgery and does not mean that the surgery has not been successful. This might have left the impression that choosing surgery was a bad idea, which is a great shame when we know it can have life-changing and life-saving effects.”
If you were affected by the storyline or want to talk about anything to do with epilepsy and seizures, please call the Epilepsy Society Helpline on 01494 601 400 - open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm (national call rate).