What is epilepsy?
- Around 65 million people in the world live with epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological disorders.
- Epilepsy is a medical condition that affects the brain and causes seizures.
- Seizures happen because of a disruption to electrical activity in the brain.
- There are at least 40 different types of seizures.
- Around 70% of people living with epilepsy will gain control of their seizures by taking anti-epileptic drugs.
- For the remaining 30%, their epilepsy is considered to be 'uncontrolled' or 'drug resistant' and alternative treatment options, such as neurosurgery or vagal nerve stimulation, may be offered to reduce or eliminate seizure activity.
- Some childhood epilepsy syndromes are 'outgrown'.
- Epilepsy impacts on people in different ways. For some people, living with epilepsy will not have a big impact on their life. Others may experience some physical, psychological and social impacts.
- There are many causes of epilepsy. For the majority of people with epilepsy (60%), the cause cannot be found.
- We also know that some genes can cause or predispose a person to develop epilepsy.
- From the Epilepsy Foundation Australia website.
The Macksville Ex-Services Club recently played host to an event of a different kind.
It was a full house at Paul Hennessey and Luke Shields' Hi Tea and Guy Tea last month - a fund-and-awareness raiser for the Epilepsy Foundation of Australia.
"I was pretty sure it would attract the male contingency," Paul said.
"It was something a little different to the usual piss-up. And I was right - the guys really embraced it.
"Although probably not too much tea was drunk."
A diverse mix of people sat down to finger sandwiches and scones before listening to some real-life experiences of people in the Valley living with the neurological disorder.
Luke was one of those who spoke.
Everyone was captivated. It was a very touching speech, and a few got teary-eyed.
Luke had been diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager, but had been in remission for a while. About six months ago he started having recurrent seizures again.
"It was quite traumatic for his wife," Paul said.
The seizures also meant a sudden loss of independence when he had to give up his licence.
Paul wanted to help, but Luke refused any financial aid, so the pair made a compromise.
"Luke wanted to create awareness about the condition, and wanted the money to be donated to the Epilepsy Foundation," Paul said.
A 100-strong crowd rallied around the pair and their idea. Many had someone in their own lives affected by epilepsy.
"It's amazing when you get talking about any disease how many people it's touched."
With the Ex-Servies donating $10 a ticket to the cause, and the auction a huge success thanks to some generous donations - including a signed Eastern Suburbs jersey put in by Lavertys - and the side-splitting talents of a very colourful auctioneer, the day raised just under $2000.
"It was a really lovely afternoon," Paul said.