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2015 Feature Story – Sergeant Rob Jamieson

This is my story.

In 1995 I joined the Ontario Provincial Police and was stationed at Dutton Detachment in Southwestern Ontario. In November 1996 I went into work for my regularly scheduled dayshift and remember feeling somewhat confused. I sat down and later woke with what I know now are post-seizure symptoms; confusion, fatigue, my tongue bitten through, and feeling somewhat emotional. Not knowing what had occurred, I went home and continued on with life. On February 22 1997 I had my first witnessed tonic clonic seizure to which I remember waking up with Paramedics surrounding me. I had bitten through my tongue again, I was confused, and I was extremely disoriented and fatigued. While the symptoms were the same, my life was about to permanently change.

I was then off work for a few days, underwent a Catscan, an EEG, strobe testing, and met with Neurologists and Epileptologists at London Victoria Street South Hospital and University Hospital in London. It was a concerning time in my life, but I found solace after I contacted Epilepsy London and Area who provided me information and guidance. I also received great support from my family, friends, and colleagues. As a result of having this seizure, I lost my driver's licence for 5 months and worked foot patrol in Grand Bend. I received excellent support from the Ontario Provincial Police which allowed me to continue in my duties as a front line police officer, an officer who was now diagnosed with Adult onset Epilepsy.

I went 2 years seizure free and in December 1999 I had another tonic clonic seizure. Fortunately, it was at home and not in the course of my duties and/or while driving a motor vehicle. Once again, I felt the same post-seizure symptoms and knew that I had another seizure. I went to the hospital even though I knew that reporting my condition would result in the instant loss of my driver's licence. I knew that this hardship was secondary to my overall health and the safety of those around me.

I went to the hospital and in the course of this visit underwent an EEG, strobe testing, and came under the care of an Epileptologist. I was off work for 3 months and commenced taking Dilantin in an effort to control my seizures. This drug was very challenging for me as it was ineffective. I continued to have tonic clonic seizures and was feeling generally unwell. I was concerned for my health and questioned whether I would be able to continue in my career as a member of the OPP.

In April 2000 I switched to Epival. The initial doses of Epival were quite significant which allowed me to obtain effective seizure control. I was grateful for the control this medication gave me, however, the side effects of increase of appetite, weight gain, and clarity of thought, were challenging. I returned to work, away from front line policing duties, working in major crime while also working with my Epileptologist in regulating the amounts of Epival required to remain seizure free.

I remained on Epival and seizure free until November 2004 when I was found lying on the floor at the hockey arena by an employee. I woke up with paramedics around me and was admitted to the hospital again. I had had another tonic clonic seizure. Following this seizure I had another EEG, strobe test, and I lost my driver's licence for a year. This time was different because I thought this would never happen again. What didn't change was the support I received from family, friends, and work. After resuming my policing duties as a Detective in the Crime Unit I wanted to give back to the Epilepsy Community. I was now living in Barrie, Ontario and joined Epilepsy Simcoe County and Area as a member of the Board of Directors.

I have been seizure free since 2004. I continue to take Epival and realize that I am fortunate to be able to control my disorder through medication. I am now married to Lea and we have two beautiful daughters, Josselyn and Eva. I just completed my term as President of the Alumni Association of Lakehead University and am the Sergeant in charge of the Leadership Coaching Program at the Provincial Police Academy.

I credit my personal and professional success to the support I have received from loved ones, friends and the Ontario Provincial Police. I am also determined to accomplish whatever goals I set for myself while bringing awareness and understanding to this invisible disability—a key factor in overcoming obstacles, barriers, and attitudes.

Sergeant Rob Jamieson
Barrie, Ontario

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