Laughing and playing with her three-year-old son Noah, Faye Waddams, 33, has a simple act of kindness from a stranger to thank for this moment.
Faye describes 6 March 2015 as the worst day of her life – she had an epileptic seizure as she walked up the stairs at Bow Road tube station, when she was almost 24 weeks pregnant.
But a stranger behind her rolled her over and shouted for help, refusing to leave her side until the paramedics and Faye’s work colleague arrived.
When the medical team got there, the stranger put her hand to Faye’s head, stroked her hair and said she hoped everything would be ok, before leaving her in the hands of the paramedics.
It was a brief meeting but one that Faye still thinks about often. Thanks to the help of the stranger, Faye was taken to hospital, and miraculously, both she and her baby were fine.
Faye has never been able to find the stranger who helped her but wants to thank her.
A few months later, on 13 June, Noah was born – happy and healthy. With his fourth birthday approaching, she hopes she might be able to finally track her down.
Faye tells Metro.co.uk: ‘She did such simple things, but at the worst and scariest moment of my life, her kindness was a huge positive in an otherwise god awful day.
‘I have tried really hard to find her but with no luck. If I could speak to her now, I’d tell her that bump is now Noah, a cheeky, happy and healthy almost four-year-old.
‘Despite fears, I managed to walk away with bumps, bruises, cuts and sprains. I would thank her for having human compassion – I don’t think she knew what to do but she was kind and stayed when so many would have walked away.
‘I would thank her from the bottom of my heart for my baby boy, as I do everyone who helped me that day. That I will never have the words to tell her how grateful I am. Small actions have a big impact.’
Faye, from Loughton, Essex, was diagnosed with epilepsy at age seven and it had been well-controlled for years so when she met her husband Chris, she had no concerns about falling pregnant.
But Faye suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum – a very severe form of morning sickness, which the Duchess of Cambridge also suffered from.
Unable to keep down food or water, Faye was missing vital doses of her medication as she was simply throwing it up again.
She says: ‘I started having complex partial seizures daily from very early on in my pregnancy and I was under my neurologist and obstetricians care from 10 weeks. I had my first tonic clonic seizure in pregnancy in the March and a second four weeks later.’
On the day of 6 March, Faye had woken up early but she hadn’t been able to keep her medication down.
She was on her way to work and had managed to get to Bow Road, the station near her office, but she was feeling incredibly sick.
When she reached the tube station stairs, she felt an aura – a warning for a seizure – and tried to get to the floor, but it was too late.
She fell down the stairs on her front, but luckily, the stranger behind her stepped in.
‘That was the last I remember. I came to to a lady turning me over and talking to me. She took control, shouting for help. The rest is a bit blurry,’ Faye says.
‘My work colleague arrived and took over. Paramedics arrive and I was put onto a spinal board. I was cut out of my clothing and a cannula was put in. Then I was blue lighted to the Royal London Hospital, East London.’
Faye didn’t see the stranger again but knows that her help was crucial in getting her to hospital as soon as possible.
Amazingly, despite the seizure and the fall, both Faye and the baby were ok.
She says: ‘I was taken to resus while they checked me over, the concern being I’d broken my neck and obviously there were concerns for the baby.
‘The gave me pain relief, paged my neurologist and obstetrician and arranged scans. My husband and sister were at the hospital and said they were kept informed in the relatives room.
‘Later in the day, they found I had no fractures or breaks and baby seemed ok but they kept me in because of concerns the stress would bring on labour.’
With another 17 weeks to go until her due date, Faye continued to suffer seizures throughout her pregnancy.
‘I had a second tonic clonic seizure four weeks after that ohe and the partial seizures continued.
‘My medication levels had plummeted – my body was processing my medication faster than it could absorb it, which was common with the medication I was on.
‘Eventually they induced me three weeks early. I was exhausted and couldn’t take much more.
What to do if someone has a seizure
- Protect them from injury (remove harmful objects from nearby)
- Cushion their head
- Look for an epilepsy identity card or identity jewellery – it may give you information about their seizures and what to do
- Time how long the jerking lasts
- Aid breathing by gently placing them in the recovery position once the jerking has stopped (see picture)
- Stay with the them until they are fully recovered
- Be calmly reassuring
- Restrain their movements
- Put anything in their mouth
- Try to move them unless they are in danger
- Give them anything to eat or drink until they are fully recovered
- Attempt to bring them round
‘Noah was born on 13 June 2015 at 15:09 weighing a very healthy 7.1lb. There was no sign of the trauma my beautiful boy had suffered whilst inside me.
‘After a horrific pregnancy, labour and birth were easy. I was just so relieved that we were getting him out.’
After Noah’s birth, Faye spent a long time trying to get her epilepsy back under control.
Now, almost four years on, she has been seizure free for a year and it has allowed her to retrain to become a swimming instructor.
Faye and Chris have decided that they don’t want to risk having another child because of her epilepsy.
‘We’re very lucky to have Noah but we have decided we won’t have any more children because of how ill I was during the pregnancy and because of the medication I am now on,’ she says.
Faye is speaking out for National Epilepsy Week and wants people to understand what to do in the event of seeing someone else having a seizure – like the stranger who helped her.
She also writes about her experiences in her blog and hopes her honestly will help other people with the condition.
‘I have had not so positive experiences. I have had people refuse to give me a seat on the train when pregnant, and didn’t even offer when I was sat on the floor because I felt like a seizure was coming on,’ she says.
‘I was in a shop once when in the first few months of being pregnant and began to feel an aura coming on. I sat down on the floor again – the shop assistant took one look at me and carried on walking.
‘If they can do nothing else, just stay close by and reassure the person. If in doubt, call for an ambulance – you don’t know their seizure history. Someone who seems drunk or disorientated could be having a partial seizure – again remain close and don’t try to restrain them.
‘Doing something is better than doing nothing. I think fear and lack of knowledge are the main reason people don’t help. The key to this is raising awareness. Knowledge is power.’
Are you the stranger who helped Faye? Get in touch at [email protected]
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