Emily's Embrace story - How a young woman doesn’t let epilepsy hold her back
Every so often, it’s nice to read a blog post directly from our Embrace users where they tell us about how it has helped them and what they thought of the technology. Meet Emily Lawrence, who is one of such users. She has epilepsy and is an aspiring writer based in the UK.
In this Embrace Story, she recounts her experience with Embrace, as well as her journey with epilepsy.
How it all started
My seizures started (knowingly) when I was around 10, and I am the first person in my family to have epilepsy. I had absence seizures as a child, and I was known as “The Little Daydreamer” for years and years! I quite liked it, as it was unique and was a great description of me. I have always been very focused on writing, and I found comfort in dreaming about becoming an author. I am still waiting for the day that my children’s book could get published!
It was all fun and games until my diagnosis, which made things very real. I was placed on medication, and it worked quite well. But a few years later, these seizures developed into more complex types of epilepsy, including generalized tonic-clonic seizures. It wasn’t fun being a daydreamer anymore. I have tried 5 different medications and only recently did things start falling into place.
You can work, even if you have epilepsy.
I work full time at a hospital, and I have always tried my best to achieve the things that I want with regards to work. I am passionate about showing people that it is possible to work with a disability because that is what epilepsy is: an invisible condition until you see a seizure. Not many people take it seriously, and they also don’t realize that it isn’t just the seizure that affects a person. There are the restrictions and medications that come along with it.
I have never wanted to live a life controlled by epilepsy: I have always wanted to work, own a house, start a family, and go out. I have dreams but haven’t quite found the way to make it as a writer or a blogger, but I will continue to do what I love.
My husband Daniel and I bought our first home last year and got married this year. So a lot of my dreams have come true.
After my diagnosis, my life as I knew it changed
Epilepsy sure does get in the way, but it’s whether or not you let it hold you back…that’s a different story.
Immediately after my diagnosis in 2006/2007, I was no longer able to have a bath. I had to be supervised while swimming. I was no longer allowed on rides, and the biggest one: I had to take daily medication. I had to quit horseback riding and could not do sports by myself.
For peace of mind, after having problems with my old smartwatch, my husband and my mum invested in the Embrace2 watch by Empatica.
I was reluctant to use it at first because of my previous experience with a smartwatch that I used for my epilepsy, but it has been the best investment yet. Although I am married and we have a house of our own, you never stop being your parents’ babies, no matter how old.
My Embrace2 makes me feel independent.
My Embrace2 helps not only my parents feel more at ease, but Daniel and his parents too because it helps them to know that they’ll be alerted when a possible generalized tonic-clonic seizure occurs. This watch has allowed me to still feel like I have my independence whilst still having people there to care for me if need be. This means that when we do have a family in the future, everyone will be safe.
My review of Embrace
Embrace comes in different colors. I have the pink one as I like bright colors and pink makes it stand out in a fashionable way, not in a “hello, look at me I have a disability” kind of way.
The watch works alongside a compatible device, so mine is paired to my iPhone 7 Plus. A paired device is needed, but it doesn’t have to be a smartphone, so don’t worry! As long as your phone or tablet is connected to the Internet, you’ll be OK.
It uses Bluetooth to connect to my phone, and it was honestly the easiest thing to set up (and I am not great when it comes to setting things up- Dan usually has to help me out). When the watch detects a possible convulsive seizure, it sends the data via an app, which then sends out text messages and calls to your selected caregivers.
The delivery was fast; it only took a few days to get to England. It is so dainty, and it communicates with you using its LED lights. A red X appears when Embrace is disconnected from your phone. This lets you know that you should move closer to the phone for the watch to reconnect. It also tells you the time as a normal watch does.
Embrace has been an invaluable companion for me in living with epilepsy, and it gives reassurance to the wearer, parents, and loved ones.
It stores all the data in the app and that is extra helpful if you have a bad memory from seizures. A week or so after my Embrace was set up and had started recording my activity, I happened to have an appointment, and I could show Embrace to my Specialist Nurse. She was so happy about this device. I was able to show her my seizure activity and how long the seizures had lasted. It is equally a diary for me.
The watch is fast charging, and it has a 48-hour battery life. I charge mine when I have someone around because I know either way that I am safe.
Embrace has become part of my everyday life
The biggest change in my life from using Embrace is that those who care about me now feel much more comfortable allowing me to be by myself, knowing that if I have a seizure they will be alerted and will know where I am. They have more peace of mind while I’m sleeping, at work, or walking.
I don’t think about it much, but I know that if something happens, I will be okay. I am lucky as I do have an aura before my seizures, but if I happen to have back to back seizures, then the watch is even more helpful.
I love to do yoga and pilates, as well as go on walks. Embrace2 is great at allowing me to work out safely and effectively, whilst equally keeping me safe. You can carry on doing what you love with peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
Journaling has helped me a lot and I recommend it
Recently I discovered journaling. It is something that counselors, colleagues, and readers of my blog have mentioned to me before, but I never really tried it. I recommend it so much no matter what age you are! Epilepsy may cause you some anxiety, low mood, or depression, but journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood. It is so worth the 10 minutes that I devote to it in the morning and the evening. It has helped me to
- Prioritize problems, fears, and concerns such as seizures in my sleep and the anxiety of performing poorly at work
- Track any symptoms day-to-day so that I can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them, such as by wearing my watch in public and getting better sleep
- Provide an opportunity for positive self-talk and identify negative thoughts and behaviors
When you have a problem and you’re stressed, keeping a journal can help you identify what’s causing that stress or anxiety. Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can work on a plan to resolve the problems and reduce your stress.
Along with eating properly, keeping hydrated and getting enough sleep, journaling is key to a healthy lifestyle. With the Embrace2 Mate App, you can monitor your sleep and identify how many times you woke up in the night and how much disturbed sleep you are getting. It also monitors how much walking, running, and general activity that you are getting and this encourages me to keep fit more than I was before.
I highly recommend that you purchase the Embrace watch. It has genuinely saved my life and helped my loved ones. The funky features and the freedom of Embrace provides me more than just a seizure monitor; it also encourages me to stay on track with my healthy lifestyle.