Two years ago my husband bought me the empatica embrace watch as a Christmas present. It was a sort of crowdfunding scheme so it wasn’t as straight forward as buy the item and receive it in the post a couple of days later. The plan was for it to be released in October 2015 so there was quite a wait and obviously the risk that it might never happen. I read a lot about the watch and what they were trying to achieve. To produce a product which would alert a carer to a seizure wherever the person was and also monitor stress levels (a particular trigger for me and I feel many people with epilepsy but something we can all develop strategies to have some control over), while also be comfortable to wear and look good at an affordable cost all made me feel this was a good thing to take a risk to support.
Two years ago...
Celebrating one year seizure free
So how would any normal person celebrate a year’s seizure freedom but by signing up for the London Marathon! I was a keen runner through school, it was my way of getting away from everything, however it was while running that my seizures began, in fact three of my first four seizures happened during or shortly after a training session. So running the marathon seemed like the perfect way to show epilepsy that I had won and if I could raise a load of money for others with epilepsy in the process even better.
So I started running, I have two children so my main training time was after giving Benji his last feed so I would usually leave the house at 8pm, as my distances built I wouldn’t be getting home until 10pm and our strategy for knowing whether or not I had had a seizure… figure out how long the run should take and if I am not back by that time send a search party out… that could mean me lying there for 2 hours! In the long summer days this worry was quite easy to push to the back of my mind I am not so sure it was so easy for my poor husband sitting at home waiting for me.
Introducing the embrace epilepsy monitor
But then autumn arrived, the cold, dark evenings set in and I started running in the dark… suddenly the worry of having a seizure and not being found for hours became a little more real and running became a little less appealing… but then what arrived… yes my embrace watch.
Seizure alert function
The major test... running
Next was the real test… running… so on Tuesday I set off on my run, would it alarm? Would it stay connected to my phone? Well the answer is no it didn’t alarm and yes it did stay connected and the peace of mind this brings to me and my family is immense. Over the next 6 months I am going to be scaling up my running in preparation for my marathon attempt. I am going to be running in the dark for long periods of time on my own, and finally we have a full proof plan. If I have a seizure the embrace will let my husband know and he can locate me with a simple find a friend location app. That peace of mind is priceless and will help to make the next six months of training a lot less risky.
The final test was when I got home I had a shower wearing the embrace… a little scared of mixing water and electrics as I have put my phone in the wash many times. The embrace states it can be worn in the shower, rain and even for swimming (just not in salt water) and you know what it was absolutely fine after a shower. Which is an amazing step forward as my old alarm was not water resistant so I was vulnerable when in the shower or even washing up as I was worried it would get splashed.
Finally the embrace also comes with the ‘Mate’ app, this is the basis of the stress monitoring system. It is in the very early stages and currently just measures quality and quantity of sleep and basic activity information but even that is quite interesting to look at. It is quite crude and the one thing I would say is that the step counter isn’t very accurate in day to day activities but seems to become more accurate if you go for a run. However I can definitely see where the app is headed and I am really excited for future updates. I hope that one day it will allow me to monitor my stress levels, to develop mindfulness strategies to control them, as I feel controlling these is key for me in remaining seizure free long term.
I can’t thank the empatica team enough for this amazing product, it is helping me to feel more confident when looking after my kids on my own or while out running and training for the marathon. I really do feel this is going to be life changing for so many people living with epilepsy.