Andrea and Ralf Budweiser from Gschwend

Ralf loves Andrea. Andrea loves Ralf. Since 1999. And they got married in 2007. Before that, they quickly built a house in Gschwend. With a heated outdoor pool. It’s that simple. Totally normal. Two lovable people who you immediately take to your heart. Both are fully employed, in the office and as a carpenter. And Ralf is a « bulldog driver » from the ground up – that’s what they call “Schlepperfans”, in normal German: « tractor fans » in the southern German regions. Ralf is chairman of the local old-timer tractor club and a member of the fire department, a real savior. And Andrea loves her Ralf not only for that.

How Ralf and Andrea became a couple
They got to know each other in 1999 at the Badseefest, at the « Brühzuberrennen », an original competition in wooden tubing, which has been held every year since 1977 by the DLRG at the Badsee in Gschwend on the occasion of the « Badseefeschd ». Andrea (born 1981) was on the way as a fence guest and he with his buddies (Hau-Ruck-Reißenhöfle). Paddled was around the bet – Ralf and his buddies won. Ralf (born 1976): « Through a firefighter buddy I organized her phone number, and then I called at some point and took her out. Then at the Christmas market in Stuttgart it sparked, that’s when we made out for the first time. » And since then they have been an inseparable couple.

Ralf and Andrea go through thick and thin together, in the truest sense of the phrase, because that means that both of them stand by each other in all situations, « without any ifs or buts ».

Andreas epilepsy journey
Andrea has had epilepsy since birth and has always had many seizures throughout her life, mainly at night. She still does not consciously experience most of the nocturnal seizures and Andrea would like to try out whether NightWatch can support the couple in recording all nocturnal seizures and administering emergency medication in good time if necessary.

Since Andrea started on a ketogenic diet 3 years ago, the severity of her seizures has gradually reduced. « I used to lash out with my arms and legs, but since the change in diet, I no longer have extroverted seizures, only cramps, and the seizures usually come at night around 1 am. » She has been disciplined in following the dietary guidelines and has been doing better overall since then. Surgery was ruled out in her case because the risk of affecting the speech or motor centers in the brain would be too high. « When I have a seizure, I sometimes have an aura beforehand and can then suppress it with 0.5 mg of Tavor, the emergency ration is always ready on the bedside table ».

When Andrea was younger, the medication led to uncontrolled weight gain, and it took various medication changes to help her get back to a normal weight. « I used to weigh 120 kilos, it wasn’t until I switched medications that the kilos came off, and I’ve also had some tightening surgeries now. » Ralf helps with wound healing. « The doctor asked me if I could see blood ». As a firefighter, no problem. Andrea « He had to tamponade my buttocks for 3 months because a wound-healing disorder set in ». When Ralf got cancer, she was there for him. And also with various other illnesses of Ralf, the two hold together so that in the end everything goes well again.

I met Ralf and Andrea at a seminar of the Epilepsy Association of Baden-Württemberg. Shortly before that she had a deeper EEG at the University Hospital in Tübingen, and in the whole process an inflammation in the brain with an abscess developed. Andrea spent the following rehab at Lake Constance in Konstanz. Ralf visited her regularly with his own camper « I had a place at the campsite in Constance right on the water, that was nice », and that is also one of the couple’s other hobbies. Trips with caravans, enjoying the Lake Constance area, touring by bike, and enjoying nature without stress.

Andreas and Ralf’s tip for epilepsy sufferers
Deal with the disease openly and self-confidently, don’t make it the focus of your life, don’t let the disease control you.

Andrea has always dealt with her epilepsy openly, also towards Ralf, from the very beginning. Ralf had not known about epilepsy before and he loves his Andrea just the way she is. When she had a prolonged severe seizure at night, he called an ambulance. « Epilepsy is just everyday life, there are only problems at night when it strikes and I wake up with a black eye, sometimes she gets one back ». They both have to laugh heartily about this.

A NightWatch story by Birgit-Elisabeth Langen, February 2022