Shaz McCormack, from Maidstone, suffers from epilepsy that impacts her daily life but she could never have imagined how badly one of her four minute convulsions would turn out. While cooking a roast dinner for her family, the 20 year old suffered one of her fits while putting roast potatoes into the oven and suffered third-degree burns to both her arms and hands requiring skin grafts to whole swathes of her body. It could have been even work for McCormack has a neighbour not heard the banging on the floor and phoned the police, because she was rendered completely unconscious by the convulsions. She says: "I had a day off college and thought I’d cook dinner for my family when they arrived home. I was roasting potatoes in the oven and when I pulled the tray out to turn them over, the room went black. What must have been minutes later, I woke up surrounded by firemen with a silver shock blanket wrapped around me. I was extremely confused. And my hands felt like they were on fire. My skin was tight and hot, and I couldn’t bend my fingers. The firemen told me I’d had a seizure and collapsed, with my arms still inside the boiling hot oven."
She was quickly rushed to her local hospital in Maidstone, but moved to a specialist burns unit in Grinstead when the extent of her injuries was revealed: "Mum was distraught and couldn’t stop crying. Doctors told me my skin was too fragile to go into theatre so I had my first skin graft two days after my accident. Then, later that week, doctors also inserted temporary metal plates to support my fingers so I didn’t move my skin. My surgeon revealed I’d burnt through the blood vessels. The burns were so deep that I was left with blackened skin which was completely numb. I’d suffered third-degree burns to both hands and my arms. Doctors didn’t know if they’d be able to save my fingers and thought I’d lose them all. I was hysterical when they told me, luckily mum was able to calm me down. And thankfully doctors were able to save my fingers."
She has been left with scarring over her hands which she has struggled with for three years since the incident, apparently choosing to wear jumpers with long sleeves so she can cover her hands even in warm weather. Shaz says she chooses to stay positive but has opened up about her story so that people treat epilepsy seriously: "I want people to take illnesses such as epilepsy seriously as they can have a huge impact on people’s lives. I hate my scars and cover them up all the time." As Shaz’s episodes have no warning signs she’s unable to drive a car and was forced to give up her dreams of becoming a midwife. "In April 2017, I had surgery to implant a brain nerve simulator which sends regular signals to my brain to calm down any irregular activity. I’ve now been free of seizures for 14 months. I want to raise awareness of epilepsy as people don’t understand how dangerous it can be – and how life can change in an instant."