HomeArticlesLifestyleLocal Teen Battling Epilepsy Paints the Gold Coast Purple
Hannah Simonovic

Local Teen Battling Epilepsy Paints the Gold Coast Purple

Helen Stubbs | March 2021

Local teen, Hannah Simonovic, had her first epileptic seizure four years ago at just 15 years old. Since then her epilepsy has spiralled out of control, turning her dreams upside down. She tells We Are Gold Coast her story and how Gold Coasters can help.

“My journey, if you want to call it that, started back in 2017,” says Hannah. “I was in the passenger seat and I started feeling funny. I said to my nan, ‘The trees are flickering and making me feel funny.’ Within seconds of that statement, I’d fallen into a severe tonic-clonic, or grand mal, seizure.”

“It took me quite a while to come out of that. I woke up and the ambulance was there and mum was there. I was covered in vomit … that was a great clean-up for my nan, I bet.” Hannah laughs.

Since that seizure, Hannah developed life-threatening chronic epilepsy, with seizures almost every day and a high risk of Sudden Unexpected Death from Epilepsy (SUDEP). Many of the things other teenagers take for granted, like attending TAFE or driving a car, are out of her reach.

“They’re unpredictable and they vary in severity, but I’ve lost my life. I can’t work, I can’t drive, I can’t have a social life. It’s hard, I’m only 19, so, all these things that a teenager or young adult should be able to have … and not having. It’s very distressing and it takes your life from you.

“I lost a lot of weight. I’m always told by people, ‘Are you eating? You don’t look good.’ In photos I see the difference. For a woman, it’s a very important thing to feel beautiful, and I’ve lost that.”

Despite the impact of her condition, Hannah is determined to make a difference.

March 26 is Purple Day, dedicated to increasing awareness about Epilepsy. Instead of raising awareness for one day, Hannah is transforming Purple Day into Purple Month – and she needs the Gold Coast’s help.

For every single day in March, Hannah is holding a community event on the Gold Coast. With the help of major venues like Dreamworld and HOTA, Hannah is encouraging everyone in the community to get involved and attend an event, so that much needed awareness and funds are raised for Epilepsy Queensland.

There’s an event for everyone – with Frenchy the Comedian at HOTA, a day at Dreamworld, a Treetop Challenge at Currumbin, unlimited mini-golf at Putt Putt Mermaid Beach, Gameshow Trivia with buzzers and Giant Games in the park.

“There’ll also be events for kids and families,” Hannah says. “A giant games in the park day, a kids’ day with face painting and balloon animals.”

You can help Hannah by signing up through her social media pages: Sew and Arrow on Facebook and Instagram. Alternatively, email Hannah at sewandarrow.info@gmail.com.

“I want to raise awareness about seizure first aid,” Hannah says. “A lot of people don’t know what to do if someone has a seizure. How to treat them medically. She encourages people to research online and take quizzes to learn more about the severity and diversity of the condition.”

“There’s been people who’ve seen me have seizures and still say, ‘Why can’t you do this or that?’ It’s one of the problems I have with epilepsy, so I’m doing this to raise greater awareness.

“Some things you wouldn’t even think of that I struggle with on a daily basis with my epilepsy … things that everybody else would take for granted. Some days I need physical help walking to get to bed or to get up the stairs. There’s always the very unsettling thought of, am I going to wake up tomorrow?”

“My neurologist has told me we’re running out of options which is extremely disheartening to hear. I do wish there was another option, but I also wish there were more options. Unfortunately, where I’m based, in Queensland, there are very little options for epilepsy medications.

“That’s my story, that’s me. You’ve heard every little bit of it. But it’s not just me, there are millions of people around the world suffering the same battle if not worse. Now that you’re aware it’s time to get involved and take action and do what you can.”

To get involved and help the gorgeous and determined Hannah achieve her goals, head over to her social media pages now: Sew and Arrow, on Facebook and Instagram, or email her at sewandarrow.info@gmail.com.

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