Richard raises the awareness of epilepsy

Richard Romeril, from Galashiels, has spoken about his epilepsy as part of National Epilepsy Week
Richard Romeril, from Galashiels, has spoken about his epilepsy as part of National Epilepsy Week

A Galashiels man has spoken about his life with epilepsy to raise awareness as part of National Epilepsy Week.

Richard Romeril was at sea with the Merchant Navy when he had his first seizure, collapsing on the deck of the ship in Grangemouth docks.

That was in 1982, and Richard hid his diagnosis as he knew it would mean the end of his Merchant Navy career.

After building up enough sea time to complete his watch-keeping qualifications he revealed he had epilepsy, and had to leave.

Between 1982 and 1992 Richard, now 52, experienced four seizures, and his epilepsy has always been treated with medication, although it did take time for doctors to get the right dosage.

Richard stopped drinking alcohol in 1992 after suspecting it could have been a trigger for his seizures, and has been free of them ever since.

“You could never call me a heavy drinker, but over a period of a month I’d had a few more than normal and then had nothing for a few days and had a seizure.

“So, I just stopped drinking and have been on the wagon ever since really, apart from the odd glass of champagne on a special occasion.”

Working for Border Force, Richard has almost never had an issue with his job, except for one occasion, which he puts down to ignorance on his then boss’s part.

“I can honestly say I have never let my epilepsy stop me from doing anything,” said Richard, who sails with his wheelchair-bound wife Marion with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, which enables able-bodied and disabled people to sail tall ships together.

One of Richard’s biggest bugbears is the driving restrictions he still faces, only being able to drive vehicles up to the size of a small van, despite being seizure free for more than 20 years.

But Richard’s message to anyone else diagnosed with epilepsy is: “Get on with life. Make sure they get your drugs sorted out and don’t stop yourself from doing anything. It will be hard at first, but it is possible.”