FRAN: You're listening to The Articles, from Seize Your Adventure.
[Sound of large airplane landing fades in then out]
MARTIN: My story begins in primary school in 1993. I was 10 years old when I had my first seizure and in a music lesson playing the recorder like a flute . I think I recall learning how to play Three Blind Mice. When I was young this recorder lesson was one of my favourite lessons at school.
My sight drifted off, but I remember seeing a vivid shot of my teacher. Then, it was like a frame had been cut from the film.
I was rushed to hospital and given an EEG. I don't really remember much about it because I didn’t really know what was going on and was finding it confusing.
and was told I had epilepsy. I had never even heard of epilepsy before. The doctor explained it to me. He said I had a seizure and explained to me what a seizure was and confirmed it was epilepsy and I was sent home.
The next day my friends and teacher came to me and asked what happened. I told them I was diagnosed with epilepsy. It was all a strange vibe with me at first but I was living with it, so got used to it after a while.
My first seizure was in my last year of primary school, so my epilepsy didn’t affect me badly till I went up to secondary school. I tried to go on a couple of ski trips in 1995 and 1997 but was declined both times because I had epilepsy which was really heartbreaking for me.
In 2013 I started travelling with my friend Terence from work. I had told him I had a bit of money saved up so he recommended I do a bit of travelling (he had been to quite a few countries himself).
We went to Ibiza and Australia. This made me feel at ease. There was one time where we went to Iceland and I had a Tonic - Clonic seizure while I was sleeping. All I remember from it is waking up with a massive headache. He was sleeping in the next room and he had told me he heard me moaning (a little thing I do while I have my seizure) and he rushed to see what was happening. This was the first time he had seen me have a tonic - clonic but luckily it only lasted about 5 minutes, so he didn’t call any emergency services and I was just able to come out of it.
Then, in 2015 I decided I wanted to go to America because it had been a lifetime dream. The idea of being in “the big Apple” and seeing the Statue of Liberty really intrigued me.
We started making a few plans. We talked about all the places we wanted to go to. But one day he came up to me and said he wasn't able to go. It was a bit of a bombshell and I was ready to have my dream destroyed.
But then, my friend suggested I go by myself. I had never thought about going alone, so the idea shocked me
It took a bit of thinking, I felt it wasn't going to be easy to do it alone. I had been to Paris and Rome by myself but never another continent by myself before, so it felt like it was far away. But it was my dream to go to America, so I was up for the challenge.
I organized all the flights, accommodations, and activities separately and when doing so I started to feel excited. The activities were mostly tours, so when it came to doing them I had to tell the tour leader I had epilepsy. They were tours that I believed I could do taking into account my epilepsy.
Booking everything by myself made me nervous though and in the days leading up to my departure, I wondered "will I be able to do this?".
When the big day came, I was carrying my luggage, and a bag of mixed emotions, through check-in and security. Knowing that it was just me on this journey, without my friend, made me nervous. But I was able to get through the standard procedures because I had travelled before and once I was on the plane I was able to relax and fall asleep.
[Sound of an airplane landing]
When I arrived in New York I took a taxi to my hotel. It was the evening, so wasn’t able to see much of the city, but was feeling excited.
By the time I arrived at the hotel, it was past 10 o’clock in the evening, and as soon as I checked in to my room, the jet-lag kicked in, so I had a bit more sleep.
The next morning, after breakfast, I left the hotel and looked up at the skyscrapers. To see them in daylight made me get a proper view of the city
[Sound of the lively city]
"I've done it!", I thought to myself. "I've made it to America!".
My lifetime dream had come true.
I had booked a tour of the Statue of Liberty for the first day because that was the thing I most wanted to see in New York. I went via the subway to the port because I heard this was the best way to get there and got on a ferry to Liberty Island. The weather was a nice sunny cool breeze. Being on this day tour helped me get over the nerves of being alone because I was around other people
As the island came closer and closer I was finding it more and more amazing. I just couldn’t believe I was seeing it for my very eyes. It was definitely bigger than I expected it to be. Then when I got there and got off the ferry it took my breath away. To be right in front of the Statue of Liberty was just stunning.
Over the 4 days I was in New York I also went to places like Times Square, Empire State Building and Ground Zero where the Twin Towers used to be. I wished my friend had been with me on this journey, but it was also exciting doing it all by myself as I had never done something like this before.
After New York, I went on to San Francisco to see the Alcatraz prison and the Golden Gate Bridge (another landscape I had always thought about visiting), Las Vegas to see The Grand Canyon, and then Miami to have a couple of days on the beach. It was like a little tour of America from the East Coast to the West and back.
Along the way I would talk to people in bars and restaurants to find out what the culture was like. On one night in New York I went to a bar and baseball was being shown on the tv. This was something I didn’t have much knowledge about, so I asked someone in the bar about how the tournament works. I also found some cities could be more upbeat than others.
When I got back home to London, I found out that the friend who hadn't come with me had been talking about me. He had told everyone he knew what I had done, travelling across America with epilepsy. (Maybe because he was impressed).
When he said that to me it made me feel proud of myself. I felt like I had accomplished something, and felt more confident in travelling.
When I travel I always have my medication in their original boxes and a pharmacy bag so the airport knows it's medication. I try to take my medication at my destination time so my body can realign itself. I let people know when I will be back from trips. I also usually have a travel buddy and he always checks up I have taken my medication.
FRAN: Hello adventurers, I am Fran Turauskis and you are listening to Seize Your Adventure