Disclaimer: This tongue-in-cheek explanation of epilepsy is done by someone recently diagnosed with epilepsy so it is by no means accurate. For an accurate description, please consult your doctor!
I noticed that when I mentioned Epilepsy some of my readers commented as follows: “I’m sorry I don’t knowÂ what to comment because I don’t know much about epilepsy.” So I’m going to try to explain in my own laymen’s term what it is.
First, I think that the most accurate way to describe epilepsy isÂ to call it aÂ condition or a disorder. It is inaccurate to call it a desease or a sickness or illness because those who have it can be very healthy individuals.Â What they have is a condition that makes them more susceptible to seizures than others.
According to my doctor, everyone can have a seizure when the condition is right. Someone with epilepsy just has a lowered treshhold for a seizure that is all.
Just what exactly is a seizure then? Well we all have electrical waves in our brains at all times, whether we’re sleeping or awake. A seizure happens when there is a sudden, abnormal electric activity in the brain. This means that I am a very electrifying person! (when my brain merajuk)Â Geddit?
Many people are afraid of the word Epilepsy because they do not understand it. When I was in primary school I had a classmate with epilepsy and whenever she had a seizure, the teachers would do the wrong thing (I’m going to explain what is the wrong thing in a while) and we all thought she was possessed! That is the social stigma attached to it due to lack of misunderstanding.
There are so many types ofÂ seizures that I can’t mention it all here without boring my readers. Did you know that there is even one that makes a person sing, dance, laugh or cry and remove their clothes in public without knowing it afterwards? It depends on which part of the brain is affected. It can be rather embarrassing which is why it is easy to get depressed, be afraid (of not knowing when you will have the next seizure) and have a lowered self confidence and self esteem as a result. So if you are helping someone with epilepsy, please realise that these are the emotions they have to deal with. Speaking of which, I am not going to let these emotions control me.
Did you know that there is another type ofÂ seizure called absence seizure which often happens in childhood whichÂ just makes the person stare in space for a while and waking up afterwards without realising what has happened and people just think that the person is not paying attention in class and has poor results from the moments he/she misses out? Epilepsy is not easy to diagnose and some people go on for years without being diagnosed.
When we are dealing with something we do not understand, people are afraid to talk about it and so they don’t sometimes because they don’t know what to say. Take for example my friend firehorse. She had written a post dedicated to me on her blog and she got 10 measly comments when she usually gets about 30 or so.Â I take this to mean that two thirds of her readers are afraid or ratherÂ uncomfortableÂ to say anything. Lol!
Some people have an aura (a brief electrical discharge in a localised part of the brain) which some would call a warning sign or a partial seizure before a bigger or generalised seizure. I will talk about my auras another day. I’m lazy today.
Ok. Now comes to the most important part of my post. How do you help someone in a seizure. I will just point out what I think is the most important thing not to do.
Most important things not to do to help a person in a seizure.
- If its in a public place, don’t stand around oggling andÂ being a busybody. If you don’t know how to help, just look if you must then move on!!! Don’t crowd around the person. They need the air and you don’t want to embarass and confuse them further by standing around looking.
- Don’t try to stop the seizure. You can’t. Just make sure the person won’t hurt themself by moving hard or hot things around them. After the seizure turn the person to the side to prevent them fromÂ swallowing their own vomit or inhaling fluids or acids from their stomach which could cause pneumonia or choking, something that could be more dangerous then the actual seizure itself.
- Don’t put any object into the persons mouth to “prevent the person from swallowing their tongue”. They won’t. In fact if you place a hard object like a spoon for example it could cause harm and injury to their jaw or teeth or if you place a soft object it could cause them to swallow it and choke. (This was what my teachers did to the poor girl in school. They always tried to push a spoon into her mouth.) If you want to be a hero and place your fingers into their mouth it would probably be bitten, so don’t.
- If its in a public place, after the seizure, comfort and speak to the confused person gently and ask if they need help to get home etc. DON’T take this as an opportunity to steal their wallet!!!!
- Don’t wake a person from their deep sleep after a seizure and don’t offer any food or water until they are fully awake.
- There is no need to call and ambulance and send the person to emergency unless the seizure does not stop forÂ 5 minutes or the person stops breathing forÂ longer thanÂ 30 secondsÂ in which case in could be life threatening and medical help is required.
My husband asked me how I would feel if I had a seizure in a public place and I told him that I would not feel anything because I don’t remember it afterwards. I only remember bits and pieces but I think it would be harder for him to handle. He would have to handle me, the inevitableÂ busybody crowdÂ plus make sure our two young kids are safe. (Which is why I stressed No: 1 as Don’t stand around oggling if you can’t help). Thats all I want to write for now. I want to go and do my exercise now.
Some of the self help techniques I am trying out for myself, include exercise, deep breathing, relaxation, getting proper nutrition and sleep, yoga (If can’t go to yoga, yoga will come to me. I can’t go to a yoga class so I bought a begginers yoga tape instead. Hehe.), awareness (reading and recording down), taking my medication with timeliness and working with my neurologist together. Hopefully I will become seizure free then.