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And baby makes three


10 February 2017

Emma and Will Johnstone had been together for just over a month when Emma underwent brain surgery for her epilepsy. She had experienced partial seizures since the age of seven. Eight years after her operation, Emma is now seizure free,  a qualified nurse and on 6 September gave birth to her new baby son, Archie, now five months old.  We revisit the blog Emma and Will first wrote for our magazine Epilepsy Review Issue 1 2011, looking at love, romance and epilepsy surgery.

Emma: ‘The night before I had brain surgery, Will and I just sat in my bedroom and cried. We were so scared, even though we kept reassuring each other that everything would be alright, there was always that possibility…

We had only been going out for a short while and I really worried that it could all be too much for Will if something happened during the operation and my speech was affected or something  went wrong. I really feared I might not come out of it as the girl he loved. We were so happy but so scared of losing that happiness.’

Will: ‘The whole thing was a rollercoaster. In just a few weeks I went from knowing very little about epilepsy to knowing all the risks involved in surgery and how amazingly brave Emma was. But the main thing I knew was how much I loved Emma. By the time I went down to the anaesthetic room with her, I knew just what a special girl she was to me. I knew there was a risk that her face could drop, I worried that she could end up in a wheelchair. But I knew that whatever happened I would never stop loving her and would stand by her to the very end.’

Proud neurologist: Professor John Duncan, who is Emma's neurologist, with baby Archie.

Emma: ‘Will is the most brilliant boyfriend imaginable. I think I probably told him about my epilepsy sooner than I might have done because of the surgery and he just shared the load. It was such a weight off my mind. He was the last person I saw before going down for surgery and the first person I saw when I came round. He was just amazing. He made such a difference.’

Will: ‘During the five-hour operation I wondered round Harrods and Hyde Park with Emma’s parents who I hardly knew, but we were in a daze. Emma was never far from my mind.

I was worried that when Emma came round from the operation she wouldn’t know me and we would have to start all over again but I was prepared for that. She means everything to me. Thankfully, within 24 hours I knew that everything was going to be alright. Although initially Emma wasn’t sure who I was, by the next day she was on the phone to me and I can’t describe just how wonderful that was to hear her voice.’

On 27 December, Will asked Emma’s father, Derek, for her hand in marriage. He said yes. So did Emma. 

More information

Find out more about epilepsy surgery.
Epilepsy Review is a magazine written by experts in the field of epilepsy for people affected by the condition. Find out how you can subscribe to the magazine.