AN epilepsy sufferer from the Capital who is coping with up to ten seizures a day has told of his pride after being shortlisted
for a top national prize in recognition of his bravery.
Ben Wilson, 17, will today attend the Young Epilepsy Champions Awards at London’s City Hall with “chuffed” dad, Ian, 49, and a classmate.
Organisers said he had been nominated because of his courage in coping with a neurological condition which has “severely curtailed” his life.
While most of the fits he suffers are minor and can be controlled with medication, Ben, from Braids, has also been hit by extended seizures lasting up to seven hours and requiring hospital admission.
But the battling youngster has refused to give up on his long-term dream of becoming an artist and is working hard to prepare for exams in English, philosophy, biology and art next year.
He said: “I’m really pleased to get the nomination and it’s nice to get recognition. I’m glad it’s raising the profile of epilepsy.”
Ben was first diagnosed with a mild form of epilepsy at the age of three but began to suffer more serious seizures when he was nine.
And on around four occasions he has been hit by an especially dangerous fit called “status epilepticus”, which requires heavy sedation and treatment in intensive care.
The condition has meant Ben is unable to enjoy everyday freedoms and pursuits most would take for granted.
His father, who gave up work as a restaurant owner in order to care for his son, said: “Ben cannot go anywhere on his own – the danger of him having a seizure is ever-present.
“Something as simple as walking along the road and getting a bus on his own is not really feasible. Ben loves swimming, for example, but something like swimming requires a bit more supervision. He has had seizures in the Commonwealth Pool, which caused a big stramash.”
He added: “His social life is quite affected – he sees friends but generally they come and stay here.”
Mr Wilson said his son was happily enrolled as a student at the Rudolf Steiner School in Edinburgh and doing everything possible to make the most of his life.
“It’s just nice [for Ben] to be a finalist,” he added. “He’s had lots of support from all his friends and folk at the school. They have been right behind him and in a way this nomination is for them as well.
“Ben’s epilepsy has had a major impact on us in some ways.
“I’ve changed my business and place of work because of it. We had to make sacrifices. Financially, things changed a lot for us when I gave up the business.
“But the key thing is the progress Ben is making now. We’re all delighted that he has been shortlisted for this.”
Ben’s attendance at the Young Epilepsy awards also coincides with Purple Day – the national day of epilepsy awareness.
A Young Epilepsy spokesman said: “After an extended seizure recently – [Ben] was woken by a nurse after a heavy sleep – when asked how he was feeling he replied that his problems were nothing compared to other problems in the world.
“A fine example of the selfless courage Ben continues to display – and a good reason he is a finalist for this award.”