Small Town Inertia

Documentary & Portraits by J A Mortram

Market Town : Simon : Living with Epilepsy : In the white room


I’ve been working on the series, ‘Living with Epilepsy’ for around 8 months now. One of the people I’ve been working very closely with has been Simon. Simon has acute epilepsy and suffers a range of seizure types one of which is called Atonic seizure or drop seizure. These seizures are not so traumatic in and of themselves but the chaos they leave in their wake often is. Simon’s drop attacks are pretty much the same as being knocked immediately unconscious, a shot to the head and he falls 13 stones dead weight wherever he stands and onto whatever may be in his path. Gravity takes over, instantly floored with no chance of protecting his fall with hands, straight down and out for the count.

I got a phone call 5 days ago “Hello” I asked, it was late, maybe 10pm “Hi Jim, it’s Simon, I had another fit, at work, I cut my head really bad, I was sick, blood everywhere, I’m in hospital, I’ve been in two days, I don’t know how long they will keep me in for.”

Sadly, it’s no longer a shock for me to receive calls such as this from Simon. Part of controlling epilepsy is trying to find a the right balance of medication. Too much and you become a zombie, not enough and the seizures are unaffected.

Simon was in a treatment room when I got to the hospital a day after receiving word from him. He’d just had a Cat Scan and another seizure during the process. He was tired, lonely and wondering when he might be released. He was worried about getting back to work (Simon works himself as a Carer in an old folks home) but also defiant. Simon gets on with life and though there is always the fear of the injuries that may come, potentially any fall could be fatal, it’s as though life is one long boxing match where he keeps getting knocked to the canvas and keeps dragging himself up again. There is no quit in Simon.


“At work I was doing a fete for the residents there. After the fete had finished I was helping take all the tables in for all the old people so they could sit down together and have their meals. We gave them all their meals and when it was time to clear up I was told to go into the kitchen and get the rubbish trolley and a bucket. So I went to get a bucket, put a bag in it to collect all the left over food in a bin and clean up. When this was happening I must of had a bad fit and I don’t know what I fell on but I must have fallen on something sharp. Then I was unconscious. One of the staff brought me back in. I had blood all over my shirt. Everywhere. I was being sick. When I came round I couldn’t remember at all what had happened. The staff called my Sister and my Brother in law and they came to fetch me and I went up to hospital.”

It’s Saturday now and Simon is still within that windowless treatment room with the stench of detergent, ad’s for all the ailments that will eventually devour us, these little boxes of pain, recovery, life and death waiting for the tests to be completed, seizures to be controlled, a new regime of medicine to be prescribed and waiting for the O.K to be discharged to finally return to both home and back to life.


Simon calling his parents to let them know how he is doing.

“I think I’ll be in this time for a while. I’ve had 8 stitches. They are making lots of tests. All the Doctors and nurses have been ever so kind, they have all looked after me really well. I’m in the best place.”

If you require any further information regarding epilepsy Epilepsy Action is a great online resource.

Advice on how you should help if you’re witness to a person having an epileptic seizure.


  • javi

    September 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm → Reply

    Thanks for sharing this Jim. The document is awesome. I will read further more (thanks for the links too) since, where i work, (i teach maths in a highschool) we have any kind of students, all integrated, and last year i had one, Aitor (really nice by the way), 12 years old, who, from time to time could suffer seizures, but they were probably other kind, not the atonic type. I’m aware of how to be informed about dealing with epilepsy can be, at least in my case.Among your words i particularly like your metaphore, the long boxing match though the whole text is really good (IMHO).Talking about the pics.. the second one is priceless; Simon’s stare is so striking. Great JOb.

  • Jessica K. Smith

    September 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm → Reply

    Jim and Simon,Thanks so much for sharing this. Both the photos and the written piece are amazing. I can’t wait to share them.Best,Jessica SmithFounderLiving Well With Epilepsy

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Market Town : Simon : Living with Epilepsy : In the white room