For the love of Jasmine
Tim Wright first met his girlfriend Jasmine on an epilepsy training course, when Jasmine had a seizure. To mark National Epilepsy Week, and our 'everyone knows someone' campaign, Tim explains how his love for Jasmine far outweighs the challenges of epilepsy.
I first met Jasmine when we were both attending an Epilepsy Society epilepsy awareness training course. I thought ‘who is this and why haven’t I seen you before?’ Half an hour into the training, Jasmine had a large tonic-clonic seizure. Being unknown to the group, none of us knew her seizure type and after 15 minutes of no recovery began to worry if she was OK.
Fortunately, after 25 minutes she managed to break free of her seizure and upon sitting back into her chair exclaimed: 'A seizure during epilepsy training, that was convenient, wasn’t it?' Everyone laughed and I, in particular, was in awe of her humour, her poise and the strong will she displayed.
I did not meet Jasmine again until eight months later, when she had her first shift in the house where I work. Over a period of six months we fell in love and we have been together ever since. It was during this time that Jasmine told me she had undergone brain surgery twice to remove a brain tumour that was the cause of her epilepsy.
I have never considered Jasmine’s epilepsy as a barrier towards us being together. Her beauty, inner strength and the light of her spirit have always out shone any fears I might have. This is not to say that at times it has been extremely difficult.
Being with someone with epilepsy I get exposed to the fears that are attached. On a basic level this fear is of losing Jasmine. I know it is understandable to have such feelings, but it is a powerful emotion for a relationship to contain.
When you fall in love with someone who has epilepsy you share the hardships they have. For example, seeing the person you care for having a seizure - and in Jasmine’s extreme case being in ITU for a week with status epilepticus - is heartbreaking. They are in danger and you feel powerless, scared, frightened. Despite this, on some level these negative emotions indicate how much love and care you have for that person, something I always try to remember.
Day to day Jasmine is the one who has to deal with the negative effects of the condition – the side effects of medication, tiredness, anxiety, stigma; the list continues. Indirectly I am affected and I endeavour to be supportive by helping out in anyway I can. Admittedly this can be a challenge, especially when I am tired or stressed and I begrudge making extra effort.
Other impacts include feeling anxious, as I worry where she is and if she has had a seizure. Her epilepsy also affects her energy levels - she gets very tired and requires a lot of sleep. It is the small things like this that become the most trying for us as a couple. If she has a seizure then I go into automatic. I don’t think, I just act in her best interests.
What good comes from Jasmine’s epilepsy? This is a hard question to answer. I would never say that there is anything tangibly good to come from the condition. However, Jasmine has always talked positively about the perspective on life it has given her, especially after her status epilepticus.
Being with someone with epilepsy I get exposed to the fears that are attached. On a basic level this fear is of losing Jasmine. I know it is understandable to have such feelings, but it is a powerful emotion for a relationship to contain. We deal with it by communicating with one another, accepting and forgiving our fears. This honesty allows us both to see how lucky we are to be together and to have one another.
In a strange way, the beauty of Jasmine and of life are vitalised by her epilepsy.
You can read Jasmine's blog here.