Written by By Alison Chisman, CNN
Throughout much of her young life, Rose Singer wanted nothing more than to forget she had epilepsy. But the day she lost her grip, and fell from her roof terrace, knocking herself out, leaving her brain on the ground, was life-changing for the young Canadian actress and activist.
Rose was in desperate need of help, needing her life back. And after years of battling and triumphing, her wish has now come true.
In a world littered with negatives, including child porn and trafficking , Rose’s story is uplifting and has shown us that people can fight hard, and face their problems head on.
June 2017: Rose Singer takes part in a standing ovation. Credit: PDSA
A feisty and inspiring advocate
Rose first experienced symptoms of epilepsy as a child, when she was five. Although it’s still not fully understood how it started, her parents suspected it was linked to her neurological condition, gout. The fact that Rose began acting out in the classroom and starting to fall over without warning was no big surprise, they thought.
Rose was twice hospitalized as a child for seizures. Her symptoms worsened and got worse. Several times, Rose’s seizures led to her having to be restrained and put in an induced coma, before they stopped.
In July 2008, as Rose was preparing to go on her first trip to London, she again began suffering seizures. Panic attacks — she was scared of flying — proved difficult to treat, and often the only thing that calmed her down was to go to the beach.
“All I could do was talk. When I had an attack I would have no words to communicate,” she explained in a recent interview with The Guardian.
A few years later, Rose was visiting her parents and visiting her grandmother when her family suddenly realized something was wrong with her.
“All I could think was, ‘Where have you gone? Why have you come to the wrong house?’ We thought she was seeing ghosts or something. But that couldn’t be right,” Rose’s mother, Gillian Goodman, said.
After a torrent of seizures, doctors rushed her to the hospital and told Rose her life was in danger. It would be most likely be impossible to save her, according to medical professionals.
Rose describes that moment like this: “You know how it is, when you see a monster and don’t know how to fight it? I saw this monster.”
The turning point was her fall from the roof terrace.
“I woke up in hospital and I remember thinking I was so lucky. I thought how did that get me here? I was so grateful and grateful I had my two children.”
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A new hope
New insights into the neurological conditions that cause epileptic seizures meant doctors couldn’t discount Rose’s case. Over a period of months, they investigated different routes, including the exact cause of her seizures.
In June 2015, Rose’s life turned around. She took up gout again, and then she started to dream about being able to work. She had learned that she could lose her brain to epilepsy, but if she was to somehow stop it from doing that, she needed to control her mood.
“I just really wanted to be happy. I knew I wasn’t as fun as I used to be, but I kept trying to think I was happy, and thought I’d just let life be given to me,” she said.
A recurring dream led her to try a new lifestyle: a diet based on hemp and milk.
“I got pregnant with my daughter, Mandy, in July 2012, and I didn’t eat meat. I only had dairy,” she said. Her attitude changed completely. “Everything was different, I started losing weight and I was really happy.”
By January 2014, Rose had lost so much weight that she was on a bariatric surgery program, where they implant internal equipment into the abdomen to reduce the amount of weight they require.
By December 2013, she lost enough weight that her parents said she had turned a corner. The day before Christmas, Rose met with her neurologist to tell him she had been diagnosed with epilepsy and for a long time she had refused to talk about it.
Her neurologist agreed with her parents that in order to see a difference in her condition, the diet, drinking the milk and counselling sessions had to change. From then on, Rose began a long process of weaning off the diet, saying goodbye to the hemp and downing the sugary drinks.