Practice A Patient’s Journey

Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 26 January 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e360
  1. Nicola Morrison, patient 1,
  2. Rhys Thomas, clinical lecturer2,
  3. Phil Smith, professor3
  1. 1Inverness, UK
  2. 2Institute of Life Science, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  3. 3Alan Richens Epilepsy Unit, Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XW, UK
  1. Correspondence to: P Smith SmithPE{at}
  • Accepted 7 April 2011

Diagnosed with epilepsy in her twenties, Nicola Morrison was told it was likely to be life long. She describes how she has grown up alongside the seizures

I was 27 years old, had been married about a year, and was living in Inverness when I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I had moved to the area when we got married but didn’t know anyone, and it was all very new to me. I was working in a school for children with special needs, which I loved, and was just beginning to find my feet and gain a little confidence. Although I had experienced a seizure when I was about 14, it was investigated with electroencephalography and doctors concluded that it was not epilepsy, highly likely to be a one off, and may even have been a reaction to a dose of antisickness medication following a minor knee operation. Several months into married life, I began to have more and more frequent jerks, predominantly in my right arm. I ignored them for a while but they became too regular and too disruptive to do so for long. I couldn’t serve up food on to plates without spilling it and hot drinks were also dangerous. I recalled the jerks from stressful situations during my university days, but I had never put two and two together.


I have never really been one to talk about my epilepsy; I guess at times it has been my way of coping. I don’t think I have been in denial but I just talk myself through things at my own pace over and over again in my head, coming to terms with the constraints the condition imposes on me. When I was diagnosed, I remember coming home from the hospital after seeing the consultant and being devastated because …

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