Over the weekend, my sisters and I attended a health talk about nutrition for people with Alzheimer’s. Since the speaker was talking about the brain, one of the participants went up to him with a question about epilepsy or how to handle someone in a seizure because she had seen her neighbour having one.

Sad to say, many people still have misconceptions about it or do not know much about epilepsy. She was talking rather excitedly.

“Its Gila Babi.” ; “We put a spoon in his mouth.” ; “He’s an electrician, I think it must have affected his brains.”

I wanted to tell her what to do and what not to do when you see someone in a seizure but although she was asking that very question “What to do when you see someone in a seizure.” I felt that her mind was closed to the replies.  She was talking agigatedly rather than listening.

I guess that this misconception about epilepsy compared to other disorders is because of the nature of it. A seizure is very frightening to watch. The person loses conciousness and loses bodily functions and controls, eyes may be jerked upwards, face may turn blue, person may lose bladder control, hands and legs jerking uncontrollably, teeth biting down very very hard on the tongue, frothing around the mouth. Horrible isn’t it? Perhaps that is why people who don’t know much about it call it gila babi! Literally translated that means mad pig. Or they might think that the person has gone into a trance or is possessed by some devil. For it may appear that way.

When I was young, I was told by classmates and teachers (yes, teachers too, teachers who tried to pry a spoon into a poor epileptic girl’s mouth each time she had a fit. I think the teachers shouldn’t have been this disinformed. If you have a child who has epilepsy you should make sure his/her teachers know what to do and what not to do), I was told that if you get bitten by a mad dog thats what will happen to you because when you have a seizure you sometimes foam at the mouth. Have you ever heard that one before? Of course the one about being possessed by spirits is a common one too leading to many drinking “fu” drinks instead of getting the proper medication for it.

So am I a mad pig? Well, I may be a bit mad at times and I am a pig when I see food but I don’t have gila babi. I have epilepsy. It was diagnosed when I was 41 (yeah yeah, I’m that old). I have only had about 5 seizures in all. 3 of them occured on the same day. I am taking medications and my seizures are under control. Besides medication, I try to eat well, sleep well, exercise and not get stressed up over little things. The stress part is harder to control because I have poor emotional intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is a very nice word for someone who likes to scream and shout over small small things. 😉

So tell me, what do you know about epilepsy? Have you ever witnessed anyone having a seizure? How did you feel? Helpless, scared or afraid? If you don’t know much,  you can read my previous post Epilepsy as explained by MG or this one What is Epilepsy from eHealthMD or this interesting one Many “believe myths” on Epilepsy. By knowing what to do to help someone in a seizure, you may be helping someone tremendously so do read up if you have the time.

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