By Charles Ellison
On Tuesday, April 4, we shared our very last broadcast of Reality Check with Charles Ellison on WURD Radio. That happened after a full month of being off the airwaves, dogged by a bit of speculation over what had happened: Why had I suddenly, without warning, disappeared?
Monday, March 6, was that fateful day when it all happened. I was struck with a very sudden seizure during a live broadcast of Reality Check that ended up turning into five back-to-back seizures and a life-changing epilepsy diagnosis.
Had my wife not sprung into action as quickly as she had, I would not be here. I spent two hours in an emergency room and a couple of weeks in a hospital bed finally discovering in a very hard way that I have epilepsy. I can only recall what happened that day and the 48 hours leading up to it from the recollections described by other people.
As a result, I had to make a very tough decision: Do I keep up the rigorous and demanding pace that’s required to make Reality Check what it is every day, along with City Council LIVE on Thursdays? Or do I put my physical and mental health first?
Listen to Charles Ellison say farewell to Reality Check and discuss his epilepsy diagnosis with WURD Radio general manager Ashanti Martin.
These seizures seemed to appear as a warning, not just in a medical sense, but in a spiritual sense, too. I feel that I’ve made the right decision. It’s definitely what I needed, but it’s what my family needed, too. One morning, days after leaving the hospital, body still sore from the beating of multiple epileptic seizures in one existential session, I woke up realizing that I have to put my body and mind first.
Of course, don’t get me wrong: This was a very difficult decision to make after six years of a successful and fast-growing daily public affairs program. I was already gearing up for the rest of this 2023 Philadelphia election season and the 2024 presidential, congressional and multiple state-level races. We had created countless insightful conversations on the most pressing issues of the day. We had tapped into expertise from our home base of Philadelphia and from all over the world. We had also put WURD on Philly’s busy media map as the only news outlet in the city with a bureau in the nation’s Capitol as I shared Reality Check’s voice with you, the WURD audience, most days directly from Washington, D.C.
This program would not have been possible without the years of insights, research and expertise all of these smart and special folks provided to a very curious audience in need of that constant “Reality Check.” We also made it engaging with the occasional thoughts, lectures and urgent calls to action from our listeners and viewers; elected officials in Philadelphia graciously gave us their time to find out what they were up to. Most importantly, it would not have been possible without super-producer Troy Wilmore.
I’ll still be working with WURD, but in a limited capacity as its national public affairs correspondent and running the weekly show ecoWURD Magazine. In addition, keep an eye out for the occasional column or two. Of course, I’ll still be engaged with other projects and we’ll always be in touch!
Thank you again everyone! And, please: Take care of yourselves. Make sure you’re prioritizing your health!
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Written by: Charles Ellison