Man arrested 10 times for being drunk - but symptoms were due to epilepsy

A MAN has claimed he was arrested more than 10 times after officers mistook his epilepsy symptoms for drunkenness.

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Brian Rocks is campaigning to raise awareness of epilepsy. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Brian Rocks is campaigning to raise awareness of epilepsy. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Brian Rocks has been in hospital hundreds of times, had personal belongings stolen and has also been found miles from home as a result of his seizures.

More than 10 alarms are fitted around his home, ready to alert his family and local support workers if he is wanders out of his house, usually during a severe complex seizure.

The 50-year-old is now fighting to raise awareness about the condition.

After his most recent mistaken arrest last September, he decided to tackle the problem head-on.

He had come around at the police station and once it was discovered he had epilepsy he was free to go.

He said: "I came out of the seizure and I was sitting in a cell.

"Police just think I am steaming drunk, and I have been falsely arrested more than 10 times.

"I have come round a few times in a police station and asked, 'What the hell am I doing here?'

"Sometimes I am so sore and tired I just lie there before I explain what has happened."

He has written to dozens of football teams across the country asking for their support for his awareness campaign.

Brian, who always dreamed of becoming a footballer, had a trial for Queen's Park when he was 21, but was devastated when he had a seizure during the session.

He said: "It was at Lesser Hampden. They were giving trials to some of the boys to see who they could take on.

"I was doing well in my third trial, but after the seizures I walked off the park and that was the end of my hopes for a professional career really.

"I was heartbroken and I was only 21. They said I wouldn't be able to play."

He is aiming to start the campaign with football teams next month, which he hopes will create more of an understanding about the 40 different forms of epileptic seizures, as well as their effects on those who have it.

About 54,000 people in Scotland are affected by the neurological condition, which can cause them to have seizures, lose consciousness or stay conscious and wander aimlessly, unaware of their surroundings.

Epilepsy can have dangerous consequences. On one occasion Brian had a seizure at home and ended up scalding his hands, which resulted in a visit to hospital.

Brian, from Clydebank, said: "Epilepsy can take many forms.

"It is time we all understood epilepsy better, so people can recognise when someone is having a seizure and know how to help.

"The only warning I get is a feeling of heartburn, and if my chin goes warm after that I know it is a seizure.

"The only way I describe it to people is that when I am in a seizure, I'm dead - I can't see, I can't feel anything, I don't know what's going on.

"You might see me walking about doing things, cleaning up, rearranging things and people think I'm drunk, they don't understand.

"Aftewards it feels as if I have gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson."

Determined to kick-start the campaign, he contacted the Scottish Professional Football League and officials said they might be able to help if enough clubs came on-side.

Eleven clubs have so far promised support, and details are now being finalised before the campaign begins.

Shirley Maxwell, of Glasgow charity Epilepsy Connections, has known Brian for 10 years and was so impressed with his work she nominated him to become a baton bearer for the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay.

Brian will represent people with epilepsy in the relay when it comes through Glasgow in July.

Ms Maxwell said: "I am delighted Brian was selected - he is so happy about it.

"His epilepsy has been devastating and I think it has affected every area of his life - his physical health, his independence, his education and work prospects.

"It became clear very early on he has found some very efficient ways of dealing with his problems in his day to day life. We have learned a lot from Brian and we used what he taught us to write a booklet and make a presentation called The Life Of Brian."

MSP Gil Paterson has put forward a motion in the Scottish Parliament after Brian approached him. There will be a debate about the condition in the Parliament tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Paterson said: "All Brian wanted was to get people to understand, particularly what his own situation was and what other sufferers were going through.

"He is a remarkable person and I just want to do whatever I can to add to his good work."

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "We have a programme in place to help increase the awareness of epilepsy and we are working with Epilepsy Scotland."

For more information on epilepsy, see: www.epilepsy connections.org.uk

hannah.rodger@eveningtimes.co.uk

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