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Working Around Epilepsy

"I haven’t really worked in a “traditional” work environment". 

UCB Advocate, Bill, discusses his career and having a seizure on the job. And after going through a number of health challenges, he acknowledges the things that are the most important in his life. I’ve got a meeting to go to in a little bit. Got something big in the works.

"I haven’t really worked in a “traditional” work environment".

To tell you about my job I’m self-employed as a painting contractor. I started right out of college, and I’ve always worked for myself. My first career choice was selling real estate and that eventually evolved into buying and selling properties. I enjoyed it.  You know, I’m the type who’s up for doing physical labor, not the type who wants to sit behind a desk. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I work by myself for the most part. And yes, I do live with epilepsy.  There are some precautions that any person has to take as a painter. Making sure things are stable, making sure one has all their equipment nearby stuff like that. As a painter who lives with seizures, I have to take a few more of those precautions. I do my best to stay close to the ground. For me, my seizures are pretty well managed, but it’s something that is part of you. Your safety and your health are important. What I’m about to tell you is something I live by when it comes to epilepsy and my work: “If you’re not comfortable with something, don’t do it.”  A couple of weeks ago, I was working indoors. Before I knew it, I was having a complex partial seizure. I sat down and then laid on the ground for a while. I just remember thinking, “I wish this thing would go away.” I was kind of out of it. It’s hard to explain to my neurologist what a seizure feels like because it’s like I’m not there. It is hard to get a feel for time. And you know, this time it was so frustrating because it had been nine months since I’d had a seizure. But right after, I got up from the floor and got back to work. I will be honest, I was dragging for the rest of the day, but hey I had a job to do. There is still business on the line there is still money on the line. You’ve got to know where to draw the line when it comes to living with epilepsy and working. As long as I wasn’t overextending myself, I gave myself permission to push a little harder.


Over the years, I’ve had prostate cancer surgery and melanoma. Going through those things made me realize this I appreciate what I DO have. I look back and see the things that I’ve endured and know that I can live my life! I’ve become more appreciative. Not to mention, the connections I’ve made through this advocate program. It is so meaningful to me. For any of you living with this, I want you to know that finding work with epilepsy is like life in general you’ve got to do the best you can. You have to know what you’re capable of doing and do it. That’s for anyone, epilepsy or not.

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EpilepsyAdvocate is a community of people living with epilepsy, their family members, and their caregivers.