The 12-year-old was diagnosed after he suffered a convulsive seizure in primary school

When 12-year-old Daniel Cleary has an epileptic seizure, everybody in his family stops what they’re doing – mum Orla, dad Stephen and Daniel’s siblings, Charlotte, 13, and Samuel, seven.

“Everybody in the house knows we all come to him. No matter what’s on, everything’s paused. Stephen and I time the seizure, we get Daniel in the recovery position and we all lie on the floor with him, so when he comes around we’re chatting and relaxed,” says Orla.

PHOTO: Daniel Cleary, 12 with his parents Orla and Stephen, sister Charlotte 13,
and brother Samuel 7. Pictures: Moya Nolan

Daniel comes around slowly and his family want him to feel no stress, no panic. “Everybody in that bubble loves him – we want him to see and feel that love. He usually chirps into the conversation or he gives a little laugh and we know he’s back.”

It takes Daniel a while to be able to stand post-seizure so the family lies with him as long as it takes. “We’re relaxed, chilled, there’s no hurry. It’s important to know we can take a breath – to make it comfortable for him coming around, but also because a seizure is such an unnatural thing to see,” says the Dublin-based mum.

Daniel was diagnosed with epilepsy after suffering a convulsive seizure at school aged nine. “I got to the school and brought him straight to hospital. He was still very out of it. He couldn’t hold his bottle in his hand. When we got to Tallaght Hospital he was very bad on his feet.”

Daniel was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was nine years old.

Kept in the day ward for observation, Daniel was later sent home after medics explained three seizures were required for diagnosis of epilepsy. Over the weekend, Daniel’s condition deteriorated. “He was having partial seizures, getting pins and needles on his face, he couldn’t hold a bottle and he wouldn’t eat. We kept him warm on the couch and by Sunday he could barely walk. I drove to the hospital like a lunatic and practically carried him to A&E. We went straight to the triage nurse and he collapsed.”

Fortunately,  Daniel’s current medication suited him from the start. “I got my lovely boy back, and it has totally controlled the seizures. He had one in November – they’re now triggered by growth spurts – but he hadn’t had one for a full year before that. And that’s amazing.”

More than 40,000 people live with epilepsy in Ireland – Epilepsy Ireland says it’s vital to know what to do when a seizure occurs:

  • Time – immediately begin timing the seizure. If it goes over five minutes, it’s potentially dangerous – call an ambulance.
  • Safe – keep person safe. Cushion their head and remove harmful objects from their vicinity. Never restrain them, pin them down or put anything in their mouth.
  • Stay – after seizure has ended, stay with the person. They’ll often be dazed/confused/exhausted. Talk gently and stay until you know they’re OK.