Comedian’s brother helps raise awareness of epilepsy

The brother of comedian Russell Howard has been sharing his experiences of epilepsy, which doctors believe may have been triggered by a head injury when he was a child. 

Daniel Howard told the Daily Mail: “Me and Russell were cycling down a hill near home, when the lights came off Russ’s bike and got stuck in my wheel.   “I went over the handlebars and landed on my head. It was in the days before we all wore helmets. I didn’t lose consciousness so didn’t need to go to hospital, but a year later, I had an awful migraine and my first seizure – my epilepsy began.” Professor Ley Sander, medical director for the Epilepsy Society and a professor of neurology at University College London, explains: “Not everyone with a head injury develops epilepsy; it’s more to do with genes,” but a head injury can lead to bleeding in the brain and even a small amount of blood can cause problems (to find out more about epilepsy visit our dedicated page). After his first seizure at the age of 10, Daniel went on to to have about one a month until his teens, when they were well controlled by medication and so dropped to more like two a year. After each seizure Daniel says he would get “a terrible pain in my forehead and feel groggy. I’d be wiped out for the next 24 hours.” But on occasions they could be more serious. He recalls a seizure that happened while he was at university: “I once woke up to find blood on the carpet. I’d suffered a fit in my sleep, fallen out of bed and hit my head.” His sister Kerry also describes how a fit at the age of 21 led to Daniel leaving university early and having to give up his driving licence: “It was Dan’s worst-ever fit. I found him lying across his bed, grey with blue lips. He was rigid and looked really ill. He had to be given oxygen by paramedics.” Daniel remembers this as a tough time as he waited to regain his driving licence, which required him to be seizure free for 12 months. “I’d just found some independence, but ended up stuck in the Gloucestershire village we’d moved to – it was a bad year.” After this, and throughout his twenties, Daniel’s seizures were controlled, and six years ago he was finally able to stop taking his medication after being gradually weaned off by his doctors.    As Professor Sanders explains: “For around 50 per cent, epilepsy can go into spontaneous remission – we don’t know why.” Daniel explains: “The medication caused my hands to shake and made me very tired. I had a CT scan which was normal and, for the first time in my life, at the age of 29, I was able to have a pint instead of Diet Coke.” “I was very accepting of my condition, but looking back, it was restrictive. I am glad I can raise awareness. It may look scary when someone has a seizure but if you know what to expect and do, it’s helpful.” A recent survey by charities Young Epilepsy and the Epilepsy Society has found that almost two thirds (61 per cent) of people with no experience of epilepsy would not feel confident in helping someone with epilepsy. To find out the 10 first aid steps to take when someone has a seizure click here.
Share page
Print page
Follow us