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Home News News Year 2013 A Mountaineer, Painter and Teacher Prove Life Goes on After Epilepsy

A Mountaineer, Painter and Teacher Prove Life Goes on After Epilepsy

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Marking National Epilepsy Day last week, 3 Mumbaikars living with the disease share the effect it has had on their lives and the determination to succeed that spurred them to fight and conquer it

Epilepsy, which affects about 1 per cent of the population, is one of the most poorly understood diseases in India. Caused by a viral infection that spreads to the brain, the disease can affect anyone at any stage of life.

Experts say that over the past two years, the incidence of epilepsy has increased significantly; they attribute this rise to the increasing number of head injuries from road accidents and the consumption of uncooked meat and vegetables — both risk factors for for the infection that causes epilepsy.

But with advances in modern medicine, there is now a range of oral medications as well as surgical options by which the disease can be controlled and eveneradicated. However, the social, professional and eventually the personal hindrances that the disease brings tend live on long after the disease itself has been brought under control.

Rashmi recently found her true calling, mountaineering.Rashmi recently found her true calling, mountaineering.

On National Epilepsy Day, here are the tales of three epilepsy patients who, no matter how severe the symptoms, refused to relent in their pursuit of an independent life.


A designer by profession, 25-year-old Rashmi Satam recently found her true calling mount aineeringin the Himalayas. In the past few years, she has climbed Mt Yunam (20,100 ft), Mt Bandarpoonch(20,700ft)andMtShitidhar (17,220 ft). A Kandivli resident, Rashmi was first diagnosed with epilepsy in 2000 and then endured sporadic episodes.

She underwent treatment for seven years, but when she stopped taking pills, the symptoms returned three years later, in 2010. Despite only having a mild case of the disease, to prevent further attacks, Rashmi will have to continue her medication for at least another five years.

An adventurous spirit, she refused to be bowed down by the disease and has been climbing for the past five years, having completed two mountaineering courses from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi. "I was 12 years old when I had my first attack. But I wasn’t going to let that affect my lifestyle. Mountain climbing has been my true passion and I will continue to pursue it," she said.

Not restricted to her passion for climbing, Rashmi proudly adds that she has also cycled on the Khardungla Pass, one of the highest motorable passes in the world.

Devashish enjoys creating portraits. Devashish enjoys creating portraits.

Devashish Baiendarkar was 15 years old when he experienced his first epilepsy attack, which lasted an hour. Devashish, now a 21-year-old patient of severe epilepsy and a painter living in Thane, is thankful that with the right medication, he can have peacefulnight sagain. "Iused to have fourto five attacks a month and sometimes about two to three in a single day. I would be exhausted and unable to study or sleep. But now things have changed and I am able to focus on my painting and living a better life," said Devashish. After years of treatment, he now suffers only two to three attacks a year, each of which lasts only a few seconds. "The medication has also helped to control my anger and improve my concentration. Earlier, I could work on only about 10 paintings a month. But now I can work more and am able to complete about 50 paintings every month," he said.

An avid painter, Devashish enjoys creating portraits and landscapes. He was unable to continue his studies after high school, when his symptoms worsened. But after a yearlongtreatment,henowhopestocomplete his degree in arts from the JJ School of Architecture.

Anusha is pursuing a modern art courseAnusha is pursuing a modern art course

At 18, with the ambition of being a chartered accountant, Anusha Ramachandran's hopes were sky high when she topped her class in the HSC examinations.But her dreams suffereda set back when she contracted a viral fever that left her with epilepsy in 2000. To make matters worse, the severe fits, which came four to five times a month, were accompanied by a complete loss of memory. It took years of heavy medication for her to be able to get a hold of her life again. She completed acourse in early child hood care and development and tried to find a job in a city school. But owing to her condition, six schools refused to give her permanent employment. As a result,she had to look for another job every few months.

Determined to make her life matter, however, Anusha went on to complete a BA in sociology from SNDT college. Anusha, now 32, refuses to give up and is currently pursuing a course inmodernart, after which sheplansto start a school of her own with the help of her family.


Epilepsy occurs when there is hyper activity of neurons causing a person to break into violent convulsions. While it can affect a person due to an infection from a viral fever or head injuries, it can also occur due to consuming raw meat or vegetables.


While 70 per cent patients can be cured with continuous oral medication, patients with a severe epilepsy can opt for surgery.

Times of India
19 November 2013,
by - Arita Sarkar

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